Sunday, January 18, 2009


I have few pictures of Santiago and few touristy things to say. I do have an idea about what life is like in one upper/ upper-middle class family who all but adopted Dan and I. Mario, the father, and Alvaro, the son a little younger than Dan and I picked us up at the airport at 7am--early by South American standards and have treated us fantastically. They are the family of the wife of Dan's previous coworker Toby. I wasn't sure how this would turn out, so I initially had my reservations, but I have been blown away by the fantastic hospitality.

Perhaps they did adopt us. On the second night, after so much food we could barely move and more drinks that I could count over many hours, there were proclamations that I shouldn't call Mario a friend or an uncle but rather a father. He told the story of Toby for the 10th time.

Toby stayed in my house 3 days. 3 days. He left for three month and then came back to stay for 3 years. Toby is my son ( and indeed, Toby married one of Mario's daughters) and you are my children too. Tonight you stay in my house and when you return to Chile you don't stay in a hostel. A hostel is so cold. soooo cooooold (the drunken slur was in evidence but the heartfeltness of his words had echoed all day). Whenever you come back to Chile you stay in my house. It is warm here. You are my children and you can stay 3 days, 3 months, 3 years and it doesn't matter. My heart is ********this******** big.

They will feed you with the best food you've ever eaten, says Toby, until you are stuffed and want to explode. like a balloon.
and they do. the food is rich and full of meat and eaten with fresh tomatoes. It's delicious and ridiculously plentiful.

Mario and his family speak almost no English and Dan and I have been speaking as much Spanish as we can muster.

The Spanish I remembered more than doubled the first day. Again the second. I'll hear a word once and remember it because I studied before. Other words that I haven't heard are also flooding back in my active vocabulary. Of course there is much more I don't understand than what I do but it's fantastic being immersed and totally above my head again.

I find it funny that this feeling of only understanding 50-70% of the conversation is where I feel so comfortable.

Today, after sleeping till a ridiculous hour and then, eventually, going to the swimming pool at Mario's country club, we stopped by a bread shop. And in that moment I could picture myself living in Santiago. They say it's where all the best teaching jobs in South America are....

and yet, I woke up this morning missing Japan and sense of purpose everyday. Today I'm sending off my information to WOOF to try to get to a farm for a week or two before heading to Buenos Aires. I think my Spanish is improving well for now and will postpone going to a Spanish school for a few more weeks.

A current plan....
tomorrow Dan and I leave for Mendoza, Argentina. He will stay only one night but I will stay three and see a bit of the city. I will travel south to Barlioche and try to WWOOF near there or in Patagonia for a week or two. There is a couchsurfing campout in Pucon Chile -- nearish to Barlioche at the end of Jan, beginning of February. I'll see where the road leads me.

I will be in Buenos Aires sometime from late February and all of March and probably April. I'm probably going to rent a room for March and April. March I will do my teaching course and April I will volunteer. In May I will travel in Brazil, visiting my friend and his family in San Palo and meeting my friend in Rio de Janeiro. After that, I don't know...

My bonus from GEOS was much bigger than I expected. I guess people had my back more than I thought and the money got transfered on a day when the yen was strong. All in all, my budget for the trip is almost doubled.

Today a third language grown in my head and I feel very lucky to be sharing this time with my brother. Today, I have a Chilean family. Today, I played in a pool and no one looked at me as if I was foreign, at least until I opened my mouth. Today I feel none of the fear of the future I did a week ago. Today I feel I am exactly where I should be, doing what I need to do, learning the right things.

It's 9:30 at night and, in Chile, the night is still young.

much love to you all, I miss you in a totally new and warm way.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic story! It's good to hear that things are really going well, and you're the first person I've ever heard to say that their bonus was bigger than expected! And also, I must say, your wait was a lot shorter than mine... I think I waited 5 months!

Do you ever practice your Japanese, or is it leaving as the Spanish comes in?

dajii said...

I am your dajii and you can't fit my heart in that whole country. But i'll let you be a foster child just for the experience .. then you're grounded. I hope chilean chicken busses are treating you well, that you are safe out in the wild world. i know you are doing fantastic, and miss you to no end. Feed us news please. Where are you now? Love so endlessly.

Em said...

following you here now.