Before coming to Chile I felt reasonably well informed about the culture, the climate, the beauty, the risks. I was told about/read about pick-pocketers, muggings, robberies, pollution – but didn’t feel too concerned with all of this, as I felt prepared. A nightmare where I was at a money machine and couldn’t read the many words on the screen however was the one thing that really scared me. In the dream I was desperate, but couldn’t get the money that was necessary for my survival.
I’ve now spent one whole week in Chile. I’ve eaten the most tasty avocados every day, talked with amazing and beautiful people, seen the most spectacular architecture, attended a lecture in Spanish, waited in government lines, seen a “real” protest, giggled at the cuteness of animals on the streets, ridden the subway, reunited with a dear friend, settled in at my university, wrestled with the time difference, caught one attempted pick-pocketer, ordered food in Spanish, worked, studied, spoken with strangers in broken Spanish and loved every single moment of it, all of it.
I have had the blessing to have a dear friend show me around the city, escort me on the subway, translate for me when necessary, teach me how to operate in a city that has both its charms and its dangers – so couldn’t have had a better introduction to my new home.
I’ve tried new food. Including tuna, chirimoya, pepino….
Chile, it’s like different worlds within one city. It’s beautiful yet it’s also ugly in places, it’s hostile on the streets yet people are friendly when talking in private. It’s diverse. It’s alive. It’s different to what I am used to, yet I really think I am going to like it here – and I feel there is so much I can learn here. I still have so much to explore and will write more once I feel I have some perspective. But for now it’s all just so new. Every single day, every hour I’m experiencing something different. This really is an adventure and better than I had hoped and yet it already feels normal.
I feel like I have been none-stop with errands and study, which is why life here already feels normal. The feeling of stress doesn’t need a passport. I have a very exciting weekend ahead to look forward to however. I’ll go shopping at a very cheap outdoor (and highly dangerous) market on Saturday, a party with a girl I meet in a very very long line while getting my Chilean ID registered – that night, then Sunday I’ll be experiencing one of Chile’s favourite pastimes it seems, church, before having lunch with one of my best friend’s family two hours out of the city.
Now my biggest barrier to overcome is the money machine. Just like the nightmare I had back in New Zealand, I was standing infront of a money machine yesterday, with the most unaccommodating font, a whole screen stuffed full of words with different options – none of which I am familiar with, and a huge queue of people waiting for me to get out my money and move along. I couldn’t do it. I explored all my options and even waiting in line for another ten minutes to give it a second go. My heart was beating, I was trying so hard to make sense of the options – but didn’t figure it out. I might see if I can scout out an unoccupied money machine this weekend so I can take my time to translate the options. Fingers crossed I can get out cash by myself…