We function in terms of probabilities…what’s the worst that can happen? How likely is that? Since arriving in Chile, I am learning that when the worst happens, you just keep moving.
When we first arrived and Jeff’s visa quagmire had him running all over Santiago and paying exorbitant amounts of money to get permission to work, we talked about the worst case scenario. And then that scenario played out. It took not one trip to the immigration office, but something like 8 trips over our first six weeks. And we are still waiting to have visas. Despite this, we are humming along in our life here (though some Chileans still have a pretty hard time understanding how that is possible without RUT cards…I’m here to say, it is possible).
Then when we moved into our apartment and were told by the landlord that the lock had only one key and if we lost it, we were out of luck. We wanted to avoid the worst case scenario, so I went to a locksmith and had a spare made. And that spare worked; one time. The next time I tried to open the door, I had a tired Rayna hanging on me as well as bags of groceries. And the key did not work. A locksmith was called, he confirmed the key sucked, and then punched out the fancy security lock and installed a more typical lock, handing us two spare keys along with the bill. This was the worst case scenario, and yet we survived it, without the sky falling.
And then there are the boxes. Or as we like to call them, the most unwanted, expensive, terrible shipment ever to arrive in Chile. Back in June when we were hustling to sell our house, visit all of our family, wrap up our work and move, we made the poor decision to ship boxes of household goods to Chile. This decision was made based on a couple of things: first, I’d been miserable in Nicaragua and didn’t want to experience that again, so having some of our stuff seemed like a good approach to helping me (and the family) be comfortable in our new home. Second, I’d heard and read that there were lots of things that are really expensive in Chile or hard to find, so I figured we would avoid all that hassle by just shipping the stuff we already had. How bad could it be? Oh man, it has been bad. So bad, that I think I actually am a little traumatized by the experience (when an email comes in about the shipment, my stomach tightens immediately). It has cost us 4x what we had budgeted to get 20 boxes of stuff that we have lived without for the last 10 weeks. We have had to go to offices in the city for paperwork to prove that we arrived here legally, that we are a family of three, that we plan to stay here, etc. We had to hire an agent to do the customs paperwork, but he didn’t really like talking to us, so we basically had an agent for our agent (Seba, a very kind and generous new friend who deserves a service medal for how much time he spent trying to help us…we’ll forever be grateful for all his patience with us and the process). Seba told us that the very worst thing that could happen would be for our boxes to get put in storage; we’d have to pay for each day they were housed and to get them out, and that would be awful so we needed to make sure that didn’t happen. Well, guess what? It happened. Our stuff sat for 2 weeks in a warehouse. Our agent kept asking us for different paperwork each week, acting like we should have already had that specific random document notarized. I missed a critical email about our shipment which delayed things. And by the time all of this was happening, we realized we really didn’t need a dang thing contained in the boxes. It’s been awful.
But there is a big, fat silver lining. These “very worst things” have happened. And we’re still standing. We’re even still smiling a lot of the time. Sure, we have had some rough days and some gut wrenching moments, but we are doing just fine. For me, it’s a lesson in perseverance. Jeff and I have had to lean on each other and on our new friends here, a LOT. It’s been humbling and at times really uncomfortable. But we just kept moving. And eventually, in each scenario, we came out on the other side. I’m currently sitting in our living room with a few boxes from the states, and that nightmare is over (thank GOOOOOOOD!).
While I don’t wish the worst things on anyone, I now know that we can survive them. So cheers to Chili and to lessons learned!