Sunday, June 28, 2009

Leaving

video Mexican Twirlers (for lack of a better term) on a summer day in Valparaiso celebrating Mexican culture and the amistad entre Chile y Mexico.

Three weeks left to live in Chile. I haven't written as teaching and editing has taken most of my time and energy, but before I go I do want to leave some last thoughts to end my blogging about this part of my life.

Favorite Places: The little plaza in the barrio Concho y Torro in Santiago, Ancud, Chiloe, traveling through the desert, watching the ocean outside of my window in both places I've lived in Concon.

People I won't forget: Susana, Pamela, Ximena and her children Paz and Gaspar, nanny Inez,the English department at St. Margaret's, the Junior School staff, Joan in the photocopy room and the rest of the auxilaries, Pia and Carmen in the library, Paula in the library, Sandra, my neighbor . . . and my students, especially my 4th medio girls: the Andreas (A, H and P), Ashley, Romina, Alexandra, Ximena, Fernanda, Paz, Francisca, the Maria Joses J and C), Diana, Pauline, Isabella, and Maria Ignacia.

Most Chilean memory: Riding on the bus from Loncura at night, sometimes standing holding on to the seats when there were lots of people, people sleeping, listening to their MP3 players, children singing, lights from the refinary letting us know that we are almost in Concon, crossing the rotunda.

Strangest thing: The two headed baby girl floating in a large jar of formadehyde at the sad little natural history museum in Valparaiso.

Most distressing: too many swastikas painted on walls, the anti-Jewish grafiti in Valpo, Santiago and coming into Arica. Also, so many people who think fondly of Pinochet and who don't seem to know the role Nixon had in bringing down Allende. Allende wasn't a good administrator and factions got out of control, but he had called for a referendum to see if he should remain as president but the coup happened before it could occur. No one seems to know this, either. There is still a huge class system here, and a person's last name carries way too much importance. Pituto, or the practice of giving "ins" to people, using connections, is lauded here. I know it happens in the U.S., but I think most people do frown on it.

Second most distressing: the street dogs who, on one hand are delightful, but on the other, they break my heart.

Wish I had:learned more Spanish.

Most challenging things: dealing with paperwork and stamps and being told different things depending on which official I talk with.

Best places to walk: Valparaiso, the beach at Quintero

What I'll miss most: dinners with Susana, the fog, my classes at St. Margaret's, the wonderful fruit juice, the seafood.

What I won't miss: finding myself in vehicles without seatbelts, toilets with no seats or toilet paper or lights, and at times all three not present, honking horns, clocking in and out of work, things that don't work like lightbulbs right out of the pack, high prices for paper, toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, etc. etc.

Who I especially appreciate: all the people who have given me rides,and Rosemary Faille for being the fairy godmother of bureaucracy maneuvering. Melanie for making me feel at home,her wonderful voice and our adventures as mermaids.

I haven't been in a writerly mood lately. Perhaps I'll get to here and write another post or two, but something tells me I probably won't. I am thinking of a post I made last year about how I felt there was something in Chile that I felt was missing back home, a love of life, I think I said. I realize that this isn't quite as true for me now as it was. Being here has definitely made me appreciate the U.S. more I think we're all just people, wherever we might live and the life you choose to live is up to you. The longer I've lived here, the lonelier I've become, perhaps the newness washing off. It's time to go home. But Chile has become a part of me, and what a gift it has been to be here.

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