Sunday, February 28, 2010

I am alive.

8.8 earthquake in Chile in Concepcion. I am alive. My house rocked like a boat on an ocean, but sustained no injuries. Everyone of my friends i know here is fine. I was with my aunt and uncle at the Sheraton waiting for news and eating free food and playing cards. Now that they{ve gone off to try their luck at getting on the cruise, Iam here with my boyfriend and his mom and grandma. I{m not alone. I am fine. Shaken up (haha) but fine. I will write more...and hopefully more coherently when I don{t feel the fog of not sleeping very well and being with family who are waiting for me to finish so we can go eat lunch at their apartment.

Much love for everyone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Leaving Spanish Behind

I realized recently that in leaving this country, I am leaving much more than a culture. I am leaving all the details too—the stray dogs that still make my heart pound just a little faster, biking up cerro san cristobal (and being practically sick watching those stupid runners climb up it faster than I can on my bike), ayoom and this special house with the perfect lighting and the perfect temperature during the summer. I leave Kanke and Belen and Prema and all the hippies that are sort of half friends who always seem to have homemade incense in their pockets.

I leave behind Pollo.

But the thing that really gets me (besides the obvious leaving behind of my love) is that if I'm not too careful, I lose a language in leaving, too. And darn it, I barely got comfortable! I was beginning to joke. Talking on the phone in Spanish was not as difficult as it had been. Given a good spanish day, it was downright enjoyable. I could even argue in Spanish (trust me, this is impressive).

Having a second language is not like a riding a bike, where even if you don't ride a bike for ten years, you still know how to ride. It's more like getting a piercing. If you don't wear the earring, the hole closes up. It leaves a scar, but it closes up. If you want to wear earrings again, you've got to start the process all over again.

What comes to mind is the scene from Awakenings with Robert DeNiro. A new medicine allows him to awaken from his catatonic state. He feels absolutely alive. But the medicine's effects wear off and he finds himself slipping back into the catatonic state he had been in. The knowledge of knowing he's slipping back...that's the worst part.

I feel a panic there, thinking about slipping back into the fog of a single language. I just don't want to watch it happen. I don't want to talk to Pollo on the phone and know that I know less Spanish than the week before.

Pollo has a TV that allows you listen to several programs in either the English version or translated into Spanish. I need this capability in America--either the TV or something I can implant in my brain for automatic translations.

And a lot of motivation....

So when you see me watching Dog Whisperer in English, remind me of this post. And make me change it to the Spanish version.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cerro San Cristobal

I made a pact with myself that I would bike Cerro San Cristobal three times a week until I left.

I have already failed.

But here's the reason. I decided I would try to beat my time each time I went up. I got a little crazy and made myself feel a little nauseous, and then I didn't want to climb the hill anymore.

I have, since that moment, recognized a couple of things:
a) I am competitive
b) I am really slow
c) Either I need to push myself to the point of passing out to remain competitive, or I can mute my competitive spirit as much as possible and enjoy the journey.

Since I don't really feel like passing out, I gave up trying to compete. I now curse those darn runners who stride past me (me, on the bike!) under my breath with a bitter "good job" and try to ignore that speed walker who seems like lightening next to my slow chug.

I am trying to become zen with my own pace.

Plus, the popsicle I buy at the top tastes better when I don't feel like passing out.

But in honor of my competitive spirit, I will say that I did cut my time by four minutes before I quit all this time business. 28 minutes and 20 seconds, ladies and gentleman. It's my record time and it's the only one I'm reporting.

Now I'm going to become one with my zen pace, curse quietly, and climb the hill again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I just want things to be easy

After a lot of dreaming about new careers--writing, personal training--when I imagine my life once I get back home, my biggest dream is nothing more than that ... will be easy. Please, let my transition home be like water flowing in a stream, like the ease of a summer breeze.

After the struggles of living here--getting cold after cold, having to actually use my pepper spray, trying to tell jokes in Spanish, trying to not spend ALL my money, trying to make sure that no one else spends my money, having a boyfriend and still deciding to leave--I just want an easy transition into my life back at home.

I crave for it mainly because I have a feeling my difficulties aren't over yet.

After all, I have five boxes to my name. No car, no job, no bed even! I have nowhere to put my clothes. Last time I was home, I put them into a makeshift dresser that looked an awful lot like a cardboard box.

I have a laptop (with a new 120 GB hard drive--Thank you for the going away gift Pollo!) and a camera and a passport--all wonderful travel furniture. I pray that they will be enough for home, too. I pray that with very little effort, and lots of enthusiasm, a bike and then a car will come into my life. Soon after, a job that I love or that at least I can stand for a little while will fall into my lap. Just as easily, someone will offer me their spare bedroom for $300/month within walking distance of my job. Aww, the dreams of a tired traveller.

How funny that at the end of this amazing trip, after having experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life, I can't wait to settle in to a normal life, where I get to complain about my stupid job and make decent money.

So while you're praying for important things, like Haiti's recovery, and the passage of the health care bill, and a good last season of Lost, would you also put in a little something about how grateful I'll be for a little, tiny, tiny bit of "easy"?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Coming Home March 9

It feels like it's been months of me thinking: Do I go? Do I stay?

Since December, I've had a few days of "I want to go home now!" followed by days of "I could really imagine staying longer..."

In December, I decided I needed a measure, a way to figure out whether to stay or leave. I decided I would stay until I said, "It's time to go home!" for a solid week. Perhaps a solid week would have appeared much sooner, had it not been for the pololo who loves me here. It's hard to sift through the complications of loving someone but still not being able to imagine living forever in his country.

In the end, it was merely several conversations with my friends and family in English that made me realize that, when I thought about returning home, I was excited. When I thought about staying, I wasn't.

Perhaps after a few months back in the U.S., I'll come to my senses and return to South America for more adventures. Perhaps...

More likely, my big adventures will now be in English, in California, and very ordinary (although, some might say ordinary is merely a state of mind).