As I settle into my Chilean travel routine, I want to reflect on my trip here – before I forget all the details! As always, there were little adventures around every corner. In D.C., I began to transition from my life in the U.S. to my life in Chile. I started thinking about all the things I wanted to do, about thinking in Spanish again, and about the fact that I was returning to WINTER!
By the time I arrived in Atlanta, I had mentally transitioned and was so very excited to be taking these next steps. I decided to begin the way I usually like to begin (and end) any journey – with a glass of wine and a bit of writing! (picture below) I settled myself into a glass of Tempranillo while I waited for my flight. I made two new friends, as I discovered again how all the really cool people hang out in the International terminal. Before I knew it, it was time to board the plane.
I found a rather tall Chilean gentleman sitting in my seat. I tried for a few moments to communicate in Spanish that I actually had the aisle seat, and that he had the window seat. But I soon gave up, and told him (in Spanish) that it was OK, as long as he did not mind letting me up as often as I liked. I simply could not be so cruel as to force this person who was over six feet tall into a tiny, cramped window seat for 9+ hours.
He was very grateful, and very kind. He asked if I was cold and offered me his coat. He got up immediately and graciously each time I asked. He made sure I got dinner, though I was asleep when the steward came by. I would never expect this from anyone. How I missed these little courtesies that I have found to be fairly commonplace in Chile! I was happy for them. It was a long night. Even me, not being a terribly large person, was cramped in that tiny little window seat. I could not have been happier to get off that plane to go stand in line for 30 minutes at passport control. 😉 Then I was in Chile.
My Spanish had not suffered nearly as much as I thought. All that Spanish Netflix must have helped, because I could still pick out words (though not complete sentences). I could stand listening as one man asked me if I knew where he could find his bags; as a disagreement erupted on the airport bus about luggage; and as I ordered empanadas for my onward journey. I did all this with much less difficulty than even the last time I was in Chile. I found I was not as nervous speaking with people, and received more positive responses in return. This all made me utterly happy.
As soon as I was on the bus to La Serena, I fell asleep.
My hostel is only a few blocks from the bus station (not like my adventure in Concepción!) and I was looking forward to the walk. As I trudged uphill, I wished I had brought less stuff. I have four carry-on size bags (picture below), so at first it doesn’t seem like a lot. But, consider that it is winter (clothes take up more room); I am carrying professional clothes, and winter running gear. I also have my entire improvised kitchen (which I am so glad to have!!), computer, etc. It all adds up to quite a lot of things, but nothing that I easily could have done without. I thought of this as I walked, and switched a bag from one shoulder to the other. I purposefully chose to carry smaller bags because I would be on and off buses so much. This is a good thing, especially going up and down stairs, but it is still logistically difficult. My “short” walk was not entirely pleasant, and I’m very glad the return trip will be downhill! 😉
My hostel is lovely! (pictures below) I have my own room, with private bathroom. I love this, as I can spread out and be up as early or as late as I want with no one else to disturb. La Serena is a relatively small city, and compact, so I can easily walk just about anywhere I want to go. I love walking everywhere again!!
Of course, not everything can go well. I had serious issues trying to get the stove lit on Friday. Nothing I did seemed to work. It was too late, or I was too demotivated, to go back out. After finding a grocery store, purchasing food, unpacking my improvised kitchen, and even ADDING to my improvised kitchen (because the hostel had no cooking utensils, so I bought a spatula), I could not get the stove lit. Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.
I had already eaten two meals out, and not been impressed with the choices immediately available. I couldn’t even find a good empanada! How difficult is that, I ask you? As much as I love Chile (and I do love Chile), the food here is not spectacular. I really wasn’t interested in trying again. It was also cold outside. OK, it was only 50 degrees, but goodness it felt cold because there is no heat in any of the buildings. So I looked around my food purchases for what I could eat. I found carrots and a bottle of wine. Seriously! (now this DOES remind me of Concepción!) I peeled a carrot (with MY peeler), cut it (with MY knife) and I poured myself a glass of wine (using MY wine opener). That was dinner – and only because I was prepared with my improvised kitchen! 😉 So sad, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t moving. And I had wine – the most important thing.
The next day, the gentleman who lives in the hostel showed me how you have to put the lighter RIGHT ON THE BURNER to make the stove light. Oh, how I wish I had known that the evening before. But no worries. The next day was much better!! More soon, lots of adventures to come.