It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around and how perspective can change everything. I was in a really low point the day I wrote my last post, after the only people I had befriended in the hostel had both checked out and left me alone in a room with five empty beds. Solitude may be a sanctuary or a curse, and while it is sometimes necessary, I derive my energy from being around people.
So literally seconds after I submitted the previous post, another hostel guest offered me some of the beer he and his friends were drinking. And then…well then I suddenly had friends. Just like that!
This was the very next night:
I need to make a special note that this picture consists of 3 Americans (including me), 1 British girl, and the rest are Brazilians. This hostel is like a Brazilian hot spot – I’m afraid I might have been hearing more Portuguese than Spanish since I’ve been here.
These new friends of mine are the nicest people. They were so welcoming and always made sure I had a full glass. Even with a language barrier with many of them, there was no hesitation in hanging out. I spent my entire weekend with them, going to museums, touring parks, eating out, etc.
I had no idea I would be hanging out with so many Brazilians. Not in Chile, anyway. Now my mom can be proud. A couple of them were from Sao Paulo too (shout out to Grandma and Grandpa and Kneese family!)!
And there was this guy:
Carlos! Also an English teacher in Brazil and kept the level of communication open in the group. Him meeting me was essentially like snapping fingers in front of my face. I needed a wake up call. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get out and explore the amazing things about this new place you’re in! He didn’t say that, but he did keep pushing me to try new things. Like this place:
When someone comes to you and says, “Let’s get ourselves locked up in a house and see if we can find our way out,” it doesn’t sound like the most enticing proposal. I was convinced it was going to be scary. Instead, it involved a whole bunch of puzzles and mind games and could be a great team building activity (teacher brain)! Our group of 4 locked in a room together made an awesome team, everybody contributing something to figuring out the puzzle, and we made it out of the room within the time limit! Success!
I’m really grateful for these friendships, but at the same time I’m so sad that none of them are staying here! However, this kind of lifestyle is definitely something worth trying. I always thought traveling alone sounded scary, and I guess it is to some degree, but you really never know what kind of people you’re going to meet! Even though you barely know each other and might not even speak the same language, somehow, you’re friends. You find things to do together, always have options of people to grab food with, and there is always an open invitation! I love it!
And I’m really not kidding. The next three people in my room were from Brazil (of course) and France. They all spoke French, only the French guy knew a small amount of English but no Spanish, and we all attempted really hard to communicate. Now when we pass each other it feels like we’re old friends. They were also super sweet and encouraging, wishing me luck on my interviews and asking how they went. Another lady in the room was from Argentina, and I found her Spanish much easier to understand. I felt so encouraged by the fact that we were able to communicate! Today I found myself at lunch with an Argentinian and Australian. They would try to talk then both look at me, and I realized I was the interpreter! Haha…I did my best. Amazing how it is meeting people from all over the world all the time. There’s another guy in here from Brazil who speaks no English, which means we’ve barely spoken at all. Even so, we have been in the same areas with the same people, so a few minutes ago when he entered the Hostel lobby, he came up and kissed both my cheeks. I’m just in awe of the whole fast-friend thing.
One of the coolest restaurants I’ve been to in Santiago was a seafood place called Ocean Pacific’s. It was the most themed restaurant I’ve ever been to, and when we first got there, we probably spent about 20 minutes just exploring the place.
It had two levels and several different rooms, all incredible to look at. The amount of decor was unbelievable! We had our table set nice and fancy in “The Captain’s Room”, which was basically a private room, perfect for Portuguese/Spanglish conversations. I admire everyone’s desire to communicate, despite language barriers.
In my time with the Brazilians, I’ve quickly noticed how much they love to take pictures. We pretty much snapped a pic at every meal. I’m grateful for it though! It’s nice to have the memories. Here Isabella (one in the middle) insisted we get a picture with the waiters dressed as sailors.
Aside from Brazilians, I’m usually hanging out with at least one British girl. There have been about four different ones I’ve met, and I’ve loved how even speaking with them we tend to get confused and laugh at some of each others’ vocabulary. Alanna (the one on the right in the picture above) was in the hostel for about 5 days, and she was full of energy and really fun to hang out with. (“What the devil is Angel Food Cake??” Hahaha)
Oh, and I should probably mention I HAVE A JOB!! Within one week of being here I had offers from two different language institutes and my classes start next Monday! Incredible! Thank you for your prayers. The only thing I still have to do is find a place to live!
Some other personal updates on how I’m adjusting to Chile…
I’ve lost weight since being here, which is both good and bad. It’s always good to lose weight, but it’s been happening at such a fast pace that I don’t really know what I’m doing!
I miss my straightener. Goodbye straight, non-frizzy hair. *sigh* I know it’s vain, but…Mom? Dad? Want to ship it to me? (pouty lip and batting eyes)
Riding the metro during rush hour is extremely undesirable. You get pushed and squished, even more than you’re probably thinking, and it just seems to be lacking some aspect of humanity. All it does is make you aggressive. Hopefully I can figure out how to cope!
Cheek-kiss greetings. Definitely different. I think I’ve gotten better, but it still reserves a certain level of discomfort for this American. Even prospective employers will greet you like this. The best is when a situation arises with another foreigner where neither of you are 100% sure whether to greet like that or not, and you awkwardly dodge in and out of it. I’m wondering if when I return I’ll be so accustomed to that kind of greeting that I’ll freak out some people back home.