A week and a half ago, I returned to the U.S. I was sad to leave Chile, after such an amazing experience. But I knew I would be returning shortly, and that made my departure much easier.
It was completely surreal coming back to the U.S. I landed in Atlanta close to 5:30 AM and was greeted by some of the friendliest and most awake (for that hour) airport employees I’ve ever encountered. They all welcomed us as we came off the plane and made our way through customs and baggage claim/re-check. Each one smiled broadly and offered assistance or just a friendly word. I was so shocked. Was I really in Atlanta? I remarked to several employees how pleasant it was to meet such happy people so early in the day, and thanked them for being in such a good mood. This was a good start!
My journey went in reverse, so my first stop was to see my brother and sister-in-law. We had a great weekend, with much alcohol consumed and stories shared, before I began my trip back to D.C. Back at home, I was pleased to find my apartment exactly as I left it. Settling in took no effort.
I had purposefully planned a very full schedule in D.C. I wanted no time to reflect on being back. So, after doing my taxes and sorting through the mail, I met up with as many people as I could and accomplished a variety of necessary tasks. I did not get to see everyone. There simply was not enough time – and this knowledge makes me understand and appreciate how very fortunate I am to have so many tremendously good friends.
For those I did not see, I am very sorry – and look forward to seeing you when I return in May! For those I did see, thank you so much for the wonderful, wonderful time together! (I felt especially great that my friends who were waiting to quiz me on my Spanish were satisfied with my progress thus far – I promise to keep learning and hope to impress you again in May!)
The time with all of you was so special to me. I enjoyed sharing my stories (the ones that didn’t make it to the blog!), laughing with you and explaining how much my time in Chile has changed my perspective on life. You all noted how happy I looked and sounded, and how different I was compared to the person who left in January.
You were all correct. As I write, I sit in the Atlanta airport, excited to return for another, shorter Chilean adventure. I will be using Airbnb, and traveling a bit more. I will return first to Vina del Mar and then move down to the Lake District. My time will be spent improving my Spanish and completing my Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) online certification. An 150-hour online course, it is designed to prepare me to apply for English teaching jobs. I plan to return to Chile in July to search for a job and see if I can stay awhile.
Where did this come from? Check out the photos below. Though I have not spoken of the Vision Quest aspect of my journey much, it played a significant role while in Chile and in my decision to return now. The balcony where I spent so much time, my run route along the ocean and the most gorgeous bus stop – ever – all played a role in opening my heart to new possibilities. So I’ve included several pictures that I took during the five weeks I lived in Vina del Mar. Who would not want to stay??
I am not sure exactly what the summer holds for me, but I do know it will be exciting. I promise to continue the blog. I will share the good, the bad and the occasionally ugly (in my attempts to speak Spanish). 😉
I am still planning to write my book on gender integration in the Marine Corps. Currently, I’m thinking of establishing a separate blog to play with some research ideas. As this gets off the ground, I am happy to share the address with those who might be interested.
The next time I write to you I will be back in Vina. Wish me luck!