The weather was hot down in Chile for Christmas and New Years. This year I decided I wanted to spend Christmas at the beach, so I went to Viña del Mar. I arrived on the 23rd in the late afternoon and stayed at my usual hostel. It was relaxing enjoying nice meals at restaurants, talking with other travelers over breakfast at the hostel, and seeing the people who work there again.
The best part, however, was Christmas Eve dinner. The hostel organized a dinner since everything is closed on the night of Christmas Eve. There was steak, chicken, salmon, salad, dessert, and drinks. There were people from Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Lithuania. Having a sense of community and meeting such an interesting group of people was a really nice way to spend the night.
Some restaurants were closed on Christmas, and when dinnertime rolled around I was getting hungry. I found out that Papa John's was open, and I got to introduce one of the travelers to the wonder that is Papa John's. We had an interesting conversation about our backgrounds, traveling, and life around different parts of the world.
Upon my return to Santiago on the 26th, I was given a unique opportunity. Some of my friends were going away on vacation, and they asked me to take care of their cats. I was so excited leading up to it and really enjoyed it. They asked me to sleep over each night, and they had food in the fridge and showed me how to use their Netflix account. I enjoyed watching Friends, making sandwiches, and playing with Tommy and Tigresa.
So what are the cats like? They are both a lot of fun. Tommy doesn't drink water from a bowl like normal cats. Instead he drinks from the tap. Tigresa eventually decided she wanted to be like her older brother, but when she tried to copy Tommy when he was drinking from the tap he lashed out at her. She then went into the bathtub and was meowing at me to turn on the faucet for her to drink from that faucet. I could only imagine what would have happened, so I didn't. Tommy also likes jumping into a red cooler and being taken around the house like he's in a plane, so that became a daily activity. Besides drinking from the tap and the cooler plane rides, Tommy was pretty laid back most of the time and just did his own thing.
Tigresa has a lot more energy. She played with my sandals, meowed to be petted, and enjoyed playing with a cardboard box as well as a mouse on a string. When I worked on my laptop while watching Friends she mostly left me alone, but the last night she started sitting down on my teaching materials, meowing at me insistently, and trying to walk on my laptop while I worked. I think she was getting comfortable with me. It didn't bother me at all; she just wanted attention and the work that I was doing wasn't pressing.
While I enjoyed my time in Viña and cat sitting, I was glad to get back to my apartment. I hadn't slept in my own bed in a week, and I needed to do some cleaning and get food in. I decided to stay in for New Years and enjoy some video games and reflecting over the past year.
It was a year with challenges, changes, and accomplishments. Leaving a job, paying off one of my big student loans, becoming more assertive in my professional and personal life, and realizing that I am capable of being my own boss were some of the memorable events of 2015. My hard work and persistence has paid off, and I've had to ignore the naysayers that told me that I should move back to the States. But with time those naysayers are becoming fewer and fewer. Having been able to live in another country for over 5 years is an accomplishment that I sometimes forget about. It's easy for me to write off things that I do well and compare myself to others, or I look at areas of my life that aren't the way I want them and focus on what is missing or what I should be doing better.
2016 is going to be a year of further development. It's going to be a year of developing my communication and leadership skills via Toastmasters, creating a savings/investment plan, and visiting friends that I haven't seen in a while. Life might throw me some curveballs this year, but I have learned that I am stronger than I thought and am capable of handling whatever comes my way.