I’m fairly logical, as far as human beings go. And yet I recently found myself thinking this: “Ah yes, the weather is definitely getting nicer. Must be time for Spring Fair back home. I wonder what everyone is up to.” Apparently, I have no trouble imagining that I am literally displaced by six months from the US instead of just one hour. Er, no. The month is October, not only in Chile, but in the whole world, and people back home are drinking pumpkin lattes and walking through piles of dead leaves. The fact is, my life here feels so different that a part of my brain concluded Chile and the US occupy different trajectories not only in space, but also in time.
Unfortunately, when I say “this feels like a different life,” people tend to hear, “this feels like a big vacation.” That is not true. If it were a vacation I would not have spent much of this Saturday and Sunday working on essays and presentations for class. I would not read the local newspaper. I would not have a “usual route” for running.
Most of all, my not-vacation in Chile has meant I have enough time to develop meaningful relationships with my friends and host family, while not enough time to take them for granted. At this point, I need to actively avoid platitudes (“I will never forget the friendships I forged here,” “Chile changed me forever,” “I felt myself,” “It was bittersweet”). The best I can do is a montage of people and conversations: Talking of earthquakes and dictatorships with my host father, warming my hands on a mug of tea. In Chiloé, waiting for cyprus oil to distill, talking about of all that is beautiful in this country and all that is unjust. Going for a brisk walk with my host mother after dinner, stepping over subway gratings. One ipod and six pairs of elbows resting on a table, wood stove drying our hiking boots. Sitting on a stone wall with a friend, watching a priest disappear into a flash of greenery behind an old door.
* In honor of my not-vacation, I am posting only not-touristy photos today.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Maya is a senior majoring in Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. In addition to classes and laboratory research, she enjoys running, martial arts, and improvisational baking (with variable results). Having achieved comprehension of the Baltimore accent, she hopes to master Spanish as well, and is looking forward to many adventures in Chile!</span></p>