Last weekend I had a visitor for the weekend. Stefani (who I met in Pichilemu) was finishing up some traveling around South America, and she was going to be in Santiago for the weekend without a place to stay before her flight back to Denmark. Rather than staying at a hostel I told her we should hang out and she could crash on my couch.
The weekend included a trip to downtown for some shopping, a fruitless attempt at finding chocolate chips to bake cookies (the store I went to before was closed and Lider was sold out of chocolate chips since they were on sale), making M&M cookies instead, lunch at El Aji Seco (a Peruvian restaurant), watching youtube clips (we are both very amused and a bit scared by the honey boo boo child from Toddlers and Tiaras), tanning by the pool, video games, and of course Papa John's. (Stefani had never had it before). It was a lot of fun, and I hope to stay in contact and that I can one day visit her in Denmark.
I don't like to talk about negative things on here, but I've come to some realizations in the past few weeks. I'm not really much for going out late, but it seems the Chileans I know really enjoy partying and going out to discos and bars. When I first got here I enjoyed going out to get to know people and since it was new, but since then the novelty has worn off. I've tried extending invitations of lunches, dinners, or coming over to my apartment for drinks, but unfortunately those invitations have gone unacknowledged or declined over and over again. I'm realizing that I don't really have too much in common with these people, and so I've decided to try and get to know people that enjoy things other than going out to party. I've also realized that some people here have had the same friends since elementary school, and so entering a social circle like that isn't always easy.
With being here for almost two years now, I've gotten to meet a good amount of people. Some people are staying long term like me, while others have come here to study for a semester or year. Yet others come here traveling through South America or trying their hand at living in another culture while teaching English. It has become pretty commonplace to meet someone, get to know them, and then find out that they're leaving Santiago. My first thought is, "But he/she was only here for.....". Then I realize that for some people a period of 3, 6, or 10 months away from your family and the comforts of home can feel like an eternity. Some people also are turning the page to end one chapter of their life and are looking forward to starting a new one, whether it be returning to their home country to start a career, go to grad school, or travel to see another part of the world.
I've met some really cool people that have left Santiago, and I'm really enjoying keeping in contact with them. Although some of them I may not ever see again, it was a cool experience getting to share this experience of living in Santiago.
I'm also realizing that unfortunate situations happen and people have falling outs. It's a shame that misunderstandings between people sometimes can't be worked out. I've realized I can't change people's minds and while they may not want to keep in contact, I feel grateful for the relationship we had before then and dediced to end things on a positive note. It wasn't easy at first, but I realized I feel a lot better reacting in that way and in my opinion being the bigger person.
Talking about relationships ending, I am also finishing a good amount of my classes with my students at Grants English. I have truly grown to look forward to classes, as we talk about our weekends, traveling around Chile, our families and friends, and our opinions about things happening in the world. I've debated the student protests and compared private versus public schooling in Chile and the States in one class, and in another class a student told us about the challenges of buying a house and finally buying one and making the move. I've helped students prepare for presentations in English and prepare for trips to the United States. Traveling to these classes and chatting with the secretaries and having classes has become a part of my routine, and so not seeing these people is going to be an adjustment for me. I'm truly thankful for having had such wonderful students, and I'm hoping to stay in contact with them and possibly have future courses with them next year.
On the other side of things, I've been able to reconnect with people after not having had contact for a long time. With the distance between me and family and friends it's easy to put off staying in contact. But one thing I've found with true friends and family is that no matter how much time goes by you can always pick up where you left off.
Those of you that know me well know I love classical music, and I was lucky enough to see an impromptu concert on Friday afternoon. I fnished at class at 6:00 and didn't want to fight the traffic home, so I walked part of the way. Near the Paris at metro Los Leones I came across a musical group with a handful of violins and violas, a few cellos, a few flutes, and a French horn. They plaed a classical arrangement of some popular Chilean music, some music from the Nutcracker Suite, the March from Carmen, and the Can Can Dance song (I can't remember the exact title, I think it's Orpheous or something like that). There was a large crowd surrounding them, and the music was so energizing that the crowd grew bigger and bigger. A few of the violinists were dancing while they played. It was a really cool thing to see and made the walk home enjoyable. I recorded video of it but it wasn't uploading, so I'll try to upload it later.
On the weekend a few of my good friends that I haven't seen in a while came over to visit. We relaxed by the pool and caught up, and afterwards we went to an Italian restaurant near where I live. The portions were large, and the service was amazing for Chile. During our meal a musical group comprised of a violinist, accordian player, and bassist came in and played a few pieces for us. It was a really nice experience, but unfortunately I forgot my camera. I'm considering going back there for my birthday next week for dinner.
The next two weeks will include tying up loose ends with paying bills and such while I'm back home, celebrating my 30th birthday, buying gifts to bring back with me, arranging my classes for when I return in March, and enjoying a bit of free time and the summer before returning home to the winter weather.
I'll be landing in New York at about this time in exactly 2 weeks.