My darling people,
Well, it's official. I am done done doneski with my semester at La Catolica. I leave for what I hope to be an AMAZING trip to the south of the country. And, most importantly for all of you (assuming that you haven't forgotten me and still want to be friends/family), 2 weeks from today my feet will be on US soil. I won't lie to you, I don't know if I'm ready to leave this country. I'm certainly ready to see all of you, but I don't know that I'm ready for this experience to be over. Perhaps there will be another Chilean era in my future.
Anyways, perhaps I don't feel like I'm finished here because I'm still having new (and at times shocking) experiences. I'll leave you all with a few of them here.
I finally cracked down (puns!) and took the plunge to go see a chiropractor. My back had still been bothering me and as the days inched closer and closer to our trip to the south, I was getting desperate. So I blindly chose one in the phone book and hoped for the best. Turns out the doc not only was trained in the US but was American himself. So...I cheated a little and spoke in English, it made it much easier to communicate exactly how/where I was feeling the pain and the exact steps I should take to improve the state of my back. Overall, it was very successful; I felt loads better afterwards and have been stretching twice daily, which seems to be helping as well. And, the best part of all, was that I didn't have to wait in line, or take 10 tickets in order to pay for my visit; however, the one oddity was that they only took cash. When I said I needed to run to an ATM but would return pronto, the receptionist just shrugged nonchalantly, there were no precautions taken to make sure I wasn't going to run off with my free back crack. I'll miss this trusting attitude.
Museo de la Paz (Museum of Peace)
This is a museum which documents (incredibly well) the before and after effects of the golpe de estado (couo d'etat/military takeover of the government) with real artifacts such as newspapers, video footage, pictures and letters, some of which were written by childen to Pinochet and his wife, asking about the whereabouts of their parents who had disappeared. Powerful stuff. In addition, while I was waiting outside the museum for my friends, a man came running out the door with tears streaming down his face. A reminder that all of this took place in the not so distant past.
Interestingly enough, there were some lighthearted parts as well; for example, there was a television showing all the political commercials from 1989, encouraging people to vote "Si" or "No" to Pinochet's dictatorship. For a such a serious subject, they were rather comic, including people skipping on the beach under rainbows for the "Si" campaign and a rousing chorus of different people screaming out "NO!" in silly voices for the "No" campaign. I'd take silly voices over rainbows anyday.
My first earthquake!!! I know there have been dozens while I've been here but I finally FELT my first one last tuesday night! I was up writing an essay and at about 12:30AM, I felt my chair start to tremble. I immediately turned around, ready to shoo away what I thought was the dog humping my chair. But there was nothing there. About 10 seconds later, a light bulb went off in my head and I ran into my host mother's room, calling out that it was my first temblor! She jumped excitedly and hugged me, saying "Te felicito!" (I congratulate you!) A celebration of Mother Nature.
Unfortunately with things coming to a close, come the first goodbyes. Friday night at our "last supper" (No, JC was not present) for the program, I said farewell to my professor for the program class. A truly inspiring, intelligent man; I learned more in his class than in all my others combined. The next one came Tuesday and hit a bit closer to home, I bid adieu my program mate and close friend who will be travelling when I leave the country. Won't lie, that made it all a bit too real. And finally, I had my last trabajo voluntario (volunteering) for English Opens Doors on Wednesday. I printed out pictures and wrote little notes (in Spanish and English) to all my students and at the end of each class they all lined up and gave me hugs and kisses, wishing me well, the darlings. The most difficult part however, was saying goodbye to my co-teacher; I learned so much from her, not only about the English language (which is so difficult to learn) but about educational standards around the world and what steps should be taken to improve them. She sparked an interest in this subject that I never knew I had and perhaps more educational work lies in my future as well...
Now I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have kept up reading my entries all the way to the end. I hope it was enjoyable for you guys, it definitely was entertaining for me, not to mention an excellent way to document my trip and keep in touch with a bunch of people at the same time. This will probably be my last post from Chile as I won't have internet access while travelling and only have 2.5 days in Santiago when I get back before I'll be stateside once again. But, once I'm home and settled, I'll be sure to at least put up some pictures from the South for the last big hurrah.
So I think this goes without saying, but the shout-out goes to each and everyone of you. Thanks for reading and I can't wait to see you all IN PERSON soon!
Un monton de besos,