So, I am not a planner. As my dad likes to say, having an idea about what you want to do but being open to any opportunity along the way makes plans unnecessary a lot of the time. This drives Jeff nuts, as he is an excellent planner and has seen the chaos caused by a lack of planning. With all this in mind, I did try to read up on Santiago and Chile before we came here. I connected with people who lived here, pestered them with lots of questions, and signed up for facebook groups that were life-in-Chile centered.
And yet, I still know basically nothing about where I am. I was writing another blog post on a different topic, and had to stop because I kept writing sentences that I felt might be 1. slightly offensive to Chileans who know their country/city way better than I do, or 2. just plain ignorant (confession: I’m not sure if Chile is classified as a developing nation, a 2nd world nation, or some other term. I must look into this as I shamefully love labels). Now, I will blame some of this lack of knowledge on my current separation from the internet. Typically, if I had questions about a place, about a culture, or about a recipe, I would just ask Google. Given that we don’t have wifi in our apartment, my options right now are to ask Rayna or to ask God. Both nice choices, but not always quick with informative responses.
For the sake of posterity, here are some of the things I really do not know right now. First, do Chileans work as many hours as it seems? From my limited perspective, it appears that folks work from the morning (I don’t have a solid idea about when morning rush hour happens as we rarely leave the apartment before 10) until 7 or 8 at night, or way later if their boss is still at the office. The admin lady at Jeff’s office is there before he is (7:30ish) and still there when he leaves (6ish). I found out yesterday the public library down the street from us (where Rayna is now a member! Hooray! I have been so bored by our limited selection of books that I’ve been tempted to throw them out the window!) doesn’t close until 11:30 at night. Um, what? I mean, that’s awesome, but I have never met a librarian who is willing to keep shelving past 8 o’clock. So maybe the library here functions the same as a 24 hour coffee shop?
Next thing I’m in the dark about: where is everyone on the weekend??? We live in a very busy little corner of Santiago, but on both Saturday and Sunday, the stores and restaurants are CLOSED. Shuttered. No one around. Are people all out riding horses in the country? Are there parts of the city where ALL Chileans go hang out on the weekends?!? I suspect this might be the case, and if so, hopefully some of our new Chilean friends will someday invite us to these surely amazing secret enclaves of cultural awesomeness(we will try to blend in, I promise!;). Or do folks just hang out with their families, recovering from their long work weeks?
Actually, reflecting on our own Sunday, maybe people are just doing what they do for fun, instead of enduring the big city hustle? After Jeff finished his first week teaching classes (it went OK, which is GREAT because it could have gone horribly:), some family time was definitely needed. Our version of this looked like running up the little mountain near our neighborhood, and there were LOTS of other folks with the same idea. Unfortunately, Rayna caught a pretty nasty cough and was up a ton Saturday night, so we decided to stay home from church and let her rest. In the afternoon, we bundled her into our massive stroller and jogged the 15 minutes to the entrance to the Cerro Cristobal. This place, my friends, is an answer to prayer. I’ll admit, I’ve been feeling pretty grumpy at times, cooped up in the city. It’s challenging to be in nap jail twice a day (I know, I know, enjoy the naps for now, and I’m trying!), and not to have friends constantly arranging activities or trying to hang out (women I love, I miss you so!). But on Sunday afternoon, I got to let go of my city lonely heart and be back in the mountain mind set! It was also so exciting to see that lots and lots of runners, families, bikers and couples also wanted to hit the mountain. With the discovery of our easy access to that little gem, I felt really encouraged that I could make a home here in Santiago.
Ok, now in rapid fire, other questions I currently have about Chile (which I will hopefully learn the answers to through a beautiful life here!).
- Should we be wearing face masks against the smog?!
- Why do the laundry machines require special coins and why does the special coin machine reject my perfectly good bills?!
- Are there tortillas here?
- How do people feel about their government/history/future?
- Annnnd how do I understand about half of the Chilean Spanish speakers?~?
Ok, there are lots more, but this is an extravagantly long blog so I’ll stop. Thanks to everyone who is touching base (it is so wonderful to hear from folks and be kept a little bit in the loop of your lives) and please keep us in your prayers (that Rayna will get over this awful cough, that I might find friends in our building, and that Jeff keeps making progress with work stuff.) Love!!!