Sunday, October 26, 2014

Back to the Blogging World

After a long hiatus I'm back!

Looking back, I can hardly believe how quickly time has gone by.  My last post was from when I was back in Jersey.

So, what has happened in the past two and a half months?

First, the time at home and the trip back.

I enjoyed the rest of my visit to the States.  I got to experience a bit of luxury that I don't normally get to indulge in when my brother invited me into his hot tub when I visited him in North Carolina.  I ate the delicious food that I missed and caught up with friends and family that I hadn't seen since my last visit.  I also stocked up on the things I like that I can't get in Chile (certain types of tea, castile soap, skin care products, etc) as well as things that are more affordable back in the States (dental floss, mouthwash, deodorant, etc).

My bags were actually underweight going back, so that was a nice surprise.  One thing that made the trip back a bit difficult was an 8 hour layover in Miami.  The merger between American Airlines and US Airways has resulted in some pretty inconvenient layovers, and this was one of them.  One of my students was going to be in Miami and we tried to make plans to meet up, but it didn't work out.  I could have tried to leave the airport and enjoy the beach for 3 or 4 hours, but the prospects of leaving my bags, paying for a shuttle or figuring out the public transportation system, and then being sure to get back in time was a bit overwhelming for me.

So I dropped my bags off at luggage storage, got a bite to eat, browsed the shops, and got some exercise walking around.  There's actually a good amount to see and do in the airport there, although the food is expensive.

My dad had a voucher to access their VIP lounge, and so after about 4 hours of walking around the airport I picked up my bags from luggage storage (they closed at 8 or so) and decided to check it out.


It was AMAZING inside.  After checking in, I got into an elevator and went up to the third floor.  There was a reception desk, luggage storage area, business center with computers and printers, coffee area, bar with a lounge, designated quiet areas, rooms for kids to play, free snacks, and showers.

I walked around and was in awe that such places existed inside an airport.  It turns out they provided complimentary soft drinks as well as some house wines and beers.  I put the complimentary wine to good use (leaving a tip for the servers with each glass of course!).  

I also got to take a shower.  It was like a hotel bathroom inside, with towels and soap and shampoo.  After having been on one flight already and at the airport for 6 hours the shower was very relaxing and a nice way to end the time in the VIP lounge and long layover.

And the best part?  When I checked in they gave me back the voucher and told me that I could use it again for my next visit!

Second, getting back.

While I always enjoy my trip back to the States, I am always glad to get back to my life in Chile.  I came back to winter, but having had two weeks of summer made it bearable.

I picked up where I left off at work, and the big difference was coming back to the new office.  I really enjoyed seeing everyone again, and I think that's a sign that you enjoy your job.

The dieciocho holiday (Chile's national holiday, which is actually celebrated for about a week) came and went, and I had a great time.  This year it fell on a Thursday, and I had off work Wednesday through Friday.  I went to a barbecue on Wednesday, and the food and company was really nice.  For the actual dieciochomI was invited to celebrate with some friends' family in Melipilla. I really enjoyed getting to know them, and the weather was sunny and warm.  Friday and Saturday I went to a few fondas in Santiago, and Sunday I took it easy and some friends came over for Settlers of Catan and wine.

And then I woke up sick on Monday morning.

I was careful to eat and drink in moderation during the holiday, but apparently that wasn't good enough.  Most of the holiday was warm and sunny, but that Monday morning was cold and overcast, and the entire week ended up being that way.  It took me over two weeks to get over it, but I'm glad to be recovered.

Another newsworthy event is that I have officially joined the 21st century and have a fully functioning smartphone!  One of my friends came down and very graciously agreed to have it mailed to her from Amazon and to bring it down to me (along with some Kit Kats).  My old phone would randomly stop charging, and the battery would only last 3 or 4 hours even at full charge.  After replacing the battery things didn't get any better, and at one point it just completely stopped charging.

After taking the phone to a Samsung store here, they helped me install the chip.  I was super excited and wanted to start Whatsapping and calling people.

Then I realized that I had lost ALL my contacts.

I thought I had saved them on my chip, but it turns out I saved it on the internal memory of my old phone.  So I started recollecting all my contacts.

It's so convenient being able to read emails and see messages on the go, and I'm so grateful to be connected to people.

Some other great things have happened recently.

Since the weather has warmed up I started walking to work three days a week.  It takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes, and one of my students who lives near me told me it's a 7 kilometer (or about 4.5 mile) walk.  In the morning it's nice and cool, and I enjoy listening to music and just letting my mind wander.  Each weekend I'm also walking.  Last weekend I walked to a friend's apartment about 45 minutes away, and today I walked to Denny's (about an hour and 20 minutes).

I've also become more spontaneous.  A few friends invited me over to their apartment the same day, and we had a great time catching up over wine and snacks.  There was a Ricky Martin concert at the Estadio Nacional on Friday night, and I invited a few friends that live in the area over a few hours before it started.  We opened the windows and were able to hear it while we chatted over some wine and snacks.

I've also become much better about developing authentic friendships.  I feel like I'm connecting better with people with whom I have things in common, and I'm much better in tune with people that I want to spend time with and that treat me with respect.  I used to feel like I didn't have enough friends and that I had to take whatever friends I could find, but now I'm learning to let go of friendships that aren't working out rather than trying to force them to work.  I feel like I'm becoming more secure and confident, and it's a great feeling.

I've also run into people from my past that haven't exactly treated me well.  I was bitter for a long time for various reasons and let a lot of negativity dwell inside me, but having seen them and knowing that I have surpassed their expectations is a good feeling. (People seem to think that I was only going to stay in Chile for a year or two). It also gave me the closure I needed to let go of all the negativity and be grateful for the good that came out of difficult situations.

I hope everyone reading this up in the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying the fall.  For everyone else, happy spring!

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