These last couple of weeks have flown by and been super busy, which is why I haven’t blogged recently. My bad, y’all!
Where to start… First of all, I can’t believe I leave in five days! FIVE DAYS. How has it gone by that fast? Many people asked me, in Spanish and English, if I am ready to leave and honestly, I’m filled with mixed emotions. Two months seems too short but at times, seems enough. There have been a few moments when I wanted to give up and hop on a place back to the States but then, there have been some amazing moments in this wonderful country.
Here’s what I am gonna miss from Chile and what I could do without, haha.
1. The Weather/Scenery: Okay, I know I have talked about how cold it is and how I have to sleep in like five layers to stay warm, but honestly, I would rather have that than be dripping in sweat and swatting at mosquitos (I’m talking about you, Houston). Even though it’s cold, during the day, it feels amazing and sometimes there is no need for a jacket! Plus, I have loved seeing the Andes Mountains covered in snow everyday. It’s incredible here! But with the cold, comes freezing water. It’s easy to take for granted hot water and I am so incredibly excited to have a hot shower and not have to worry about the water temperature changing on me.
2. The People: Now, I have encountered some really rude people, don’t get me started on my experience at the zoo, but most of the people here I have met are so kind, friendly and thrilled I am in their country. I’m going to miss the kids at Grace College but mostly, the Pizarro family. They truly have become a second family to me and their kids are so dear to me. I know I am going to be a hot mess and have already cried thinking about saying goodbye to them. Seriously. Thanks Julian for getting me all emotional. Plus, all the incredible pastors and missionaries here are so kind and welcoming!
3. The Food: Some of the food here is super plain and at times, lame with flavor, but I will seriously miss empanadas. Like, oh my goodness are they good. Not good for you, but you know, treat yo’ self! Also, Chileans know how to make pastries, coffee and chocolate. I am bringing back so much chocolate back home and cannot wait to have little tastings with my friends and family. Also, home cooking here is wonderful and cooked with love. When we went to La Cruz, about an hour and a half from Santiago, we had the privelege to stay at a family’s house for a day and a half. They cooked us this amazing lunch with fried fish, called Merluza, and fresh vegetables from a farmer’s market. It was AH-MAZING. Best meal, hands down! But don’t get me wrong, I really miss my sweet tea, Chick-Fil-A, kolaches and my dad’s fajitas. First stop is definitely Chick-Fil-A though!
4. The Transportation: I really love the subway system here. It’s so easy and fast and goes all over Santiago. I really wish Houston would invest in one, seriously. Who do I talk to about that? But I really miss my car and being able to drive anywhere. The closest metro station, or subway, is about 15-20 minutes from me, which isn’t horrible but when you’re running late or tired from a long day, it’s frustrating to not have access to quick transportation. Also, I really don’t like the buses here. Yes, they are efficient and cheap, but my heavens, the drivers and crowds. They brake like mad men, don’t fully stop to allow people on or off and they will stuff the buses with as many people as possible, which therefore I get crushed because I am so short. Subway, yes. Bus? I’m good.
5. Not Being a Foreigner: Traveling is really fun and I love experiencing different foods and cultures but being a foreigner here in Chile is a little overwhelming. People constantly stare at you and at times might want to charge you more for whatever your buying because “you’re American”. I’m super stoked to be able to understand almost everyone I encounter and be able to have full conversations back home. But the plus side of being a foreigner means that you can use your American girl charm if you’re in a sticky situation and once people realize you aren’t fluent in Spanish, they’re super kind and helpful. Being American can be helpful at times!
So like I said, I have mixed emotions about leaving Chile. I could easily stay here for a month or two more but I am excited to be back in familiar surroundings with my family and friends. It’s much needed and plus, I really miss my dog, haha!
I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity and already want to come back! I’ve grown so much in myself and I’m really proud of how I was able to be independent around this huge city! Chile, you will always be special to me.!
Here are a few, or a lot, of pictures with everything that has happened.
Not sure if I’ll blog before I leave but I’ll have some sort of closing blog. Thank you for your prayers and love! Soon, I’ll be back in the States and in the greatest state ever! Chao!
It’s been great here but also, rough. I feel like I have shared the happy moments here in Chile but not so much about what I have been going through emotionally.
I have officially spent an entire month here in Santiago, Chile and on the positive side, I couldn’t be more proud of myself for learning how to naviagate this city. For those that know, I have never traveled internationally. I mean, I went to Saltillo, Mexico for a mission trip but that’s like literally across the border and I didn’t need a passport… I don’t really count it. So for my first international trip, it’s been rough and amazing at the same time. Coming here Julian told me to be flexible because I won’t have a set schedule, there will be some days where I won’t know my schedule until maybe that day… Seriously. That kind of stuff typically drives me crazy. I’m used to knowing what my day will consist of and to be without a plan is weird for me. Luckily though, I have given up my expectations which has allowed me to be flexible and relaxed, PTL (praise the Lord).
In the beginning of June, I was excited to explore the city and learn all of its’ nooks and crannies but it proved to be a little difficult. I was here alone without a missionary partner and felt isolated. I am such a social butterfly that whenever I was FaceTiming my friends, I felt like I was such a chatter box because I could actually have a conversation with someone in English (sorry to those friends). So it was rough, then I started to get the hang of the metro, or subway, and was able to figure out by myself how to navigate the city. Once it was getting better, then I dealt with some difficulties. I switched host families which came with some obstacles, such as, getting locked out of the house for over two hours, I have keys now, thankfully, and later injuring my lower back on the stairs. I was so done. Done with Chile, done with being away from my friends and family and done with the Lord trying to teach me a lesson. For the first time last week, I wanted to go home. I wanted MY bed in MY city and be surrounded by MY native language. I was over it. There were so many emotions going through my head. I was emotional about past experiences, what my future plans were going to contain, how much pain I was in from my injury and just missing a familiar surrounding. But praise the Lord for friends who can empathize but tell it to you straight. Andy Ramirez, Maddie Rarick and Zasmyne Robinson are gems as friends, just to name a few of the wonderful people I have in my life. They allowed me to cry over FaceTime, vent and then prayed for me and gave me sound advice. They reminded me that first of all, it’s okay to be home sick and to be worried about my future plans. It’s okay to want to give up but to remember why I am here in Chile. I am here for the Lord’s Kingdom to share with people about the love of Christ. So with that I picked myself up and was determined to make the best of my time here.
Immediately after my little cry fest, the Lord placed sweet friends from the States in my life. Oh, is He good. I needed, I mean NEEDED, friends, badly. I celebrated Fourth of July with American missionaries and there saw my sweet friend, Kathryn Smith, from UMHB, and her missionary partner, Abby, from Georgia.
They are doing mission work in Vina del Mar, about an hour and a half away and it was so nice to have friends from the States and the same age as me. We had a chance to go sight seeing around Santiago, since they were visiting for the weekend, which was so wonderful. I had been dying to go see the city and finally had a chance! We explored and watched the championiship of Copa America between Chile and Argentina. Ultimately, Chile won and the city celebrated until morning! Seriously. On my way to the metro that morning, I saw two guys walking home with a tattered Chile flag that looked like it had been in a battle. Chileans know how to celebrate here! Then Sunday was filled with church downtown and more sight seeing.
Kathryn and Abby asked me if I wanted to come visit Viña tomorrow since it was their day off and I immediately said yes! So the next day, I traveled by charter bus to Vina and got to see the Pacific Ocean, eat Peruvian food for the first time (OMG it’s delicious) and do some shopping (YES!). Monday was so delightful and needed. I am so thankful that after some rough weeks, the Lord placed Kathryn and Abby in my life here in Chile. The Lord knew I needed that fellowship and after my time with them, I felt refreshed and ready to conquer this next month.
The rest of the week, I taught at the school, which I am now gaining more confidence in teaching music and it’s actually inspired me to want to get ESL certified and possibly teach English in a Spanish speaking country, but we shall see 🙂 I taught and then was on winter break for two weeks, YAY! Also, what is wonderful is my friend, April. April just arrived here a few days ago and she is also from Champion Forest Baptist back home. I finally have a friend who I can explore with and I am so happy! We’ve already done some exploring and practicing our Spanish with each other. These next two weeks are going to be so great. There are plans to do different things around the city with April and the Pizarros, and we might even get to go skiing in the Andes and visit Argentina! Insert squealing here. Also, we have some plans to go into the town of Los Andes to assist a church on the weekends and work with a group of girls who have been domestically abused. I’m nervous since I don’t have any experience with girls who have been abused but I know that the Lord will give me the words to communicate with them about how loved they are by their Father.
The amount of excitement I have for this month is above and beyond and I’m so thankful that I went through some rough patches in June. April was talking to me about how in the book of James, he went through some trials and tribulations but persevered. As she was talking to me about that, I realized that the book of James in Spanish is Santiago. Oh God, I see what You did there! Things like that are what make this trip what it is. It was rough and I was over it, but then the Lord sends me old and new friends which just fills my heart with joy. This month is going to fly by so quickly and I cannot wait to see what the Lord will teach me in these next couple of weeks. Until then, chao, mis amigos!
First off, I have been living here for almost an entire month… Like what? Living here definitely has its ups and downs but overall, I am loving this city and finding my way through it. I’ve had moments, like last night for instance, where I just wanted to be in my own room back in Texas but I had to remind myself, thanks to my dear friend, Andy, that I am here for the Lord’s Kingdom and that’s my purpose right now. It’s hard being away from family and friends, but I am learning to brace the diversity here and push forward.
Before I get into the differences and similiarities, I just have to say how lucky I am to have the Pizarro family. Julian is the one who asked me to come spend my summer down here and him and his family have truly become a second family to me. They encourage me, pick on me (that’s an understatement!) and have hard talks with me when I don’t want to face reality. I am so thankful that the Lord gave me such an amazing, Christ-like family to support me as I’m here. Plus, Jessica, Julian’s wife, is like an older sister I’ve never had and their seven year old triplets, Sarah, Julian and Jonathan, feel like my own kids, lol. I adore the Pizarros and thinking about saying bye to them in a month already makes me teary eyed.
Now the comparison of two places that have a special place in my heart; Texas and Chile.
1. The People
I am such a proud Texas, it’s kind of ridiculous. I will argue with anyone about why Texas is the best state and miss it more and more each day and I happen to be listening to Brad Paisley’s Southern Comfort Zone right now. Texas’ culture is so diverse. There are so many different ethnicities, just like Chile! Seriously. Don’t bother trying to assume if you think someone “looks like they speak English” because there’s seriously every ethnicity here. But back in the good ol’ Lonestar State, people are warm, friendly, helpful and generous. You really can’t beat southern hospitality! Here in Santiago, it’s a big city of 5 million, where Houston is 2 million and Texas has a whopping 27 million, so being in a big city, people aren’t as friendly, just like if you were to go to New York or Boston. Now, don’t get me wrong, the people I have met here at the church and school have been so welcoming and warm, but it’s not like that everywhere.
For example, Jessica and her three kids were in the grocery store the other day and Sarah, her daughter, was carrying Starbucks to bring to Julian. A woman with her shopping cart zoomed in between Jessica’s cart and another cart to get passed them as if she was on the freeway. This woman nearly ran over Sarah by bumping into her which made Sarah spill the coffee everywhere. The woman didn’t say, “Permiso“, aka “Excuse me”, and didn’t apologize to Sarah or Jessica. Jessica said something to the woman about how if she would’ve said excuse me, they would’ve moved, which would have prevented the whole incident. The woman told her she shouldn’t have allowed a little girl to carry coffee in the first place… That was her response! Back home, people would’ve immediately apologized and most likely offered to buy a new coffee! Eventually, this woman gave an ungenuine apology and left. Now, this type of incident hasn’t happened just once to Jessica, this type of thing has happened numerous times and honestly, that’s just how people are here. Like I said, people I have met have been super kind and friendly but that doesn’t describe everyone, unlike in Texas where I would say most people have southern manners.
Here in Santiago, and really any Latin American country, you greet everyone with a “kiss” on the cheek. Now when I mean kiss, it’s really your cheek touching their cheek and you make a kissing sound. At first, this greeting was incredibly personal to me and for the first week I was awkwardly putting my hand out for a handshake to then be met with a kiss on the cheek. Side note, sometimes they will actually kiss you on the cheek, which threw me off for sure. I initially thought this greeting was bizarre and super personal but now, I actually prefer it! In Texas, there are like a thousand ways to greet someone. There are handshakes, hugs, kisses, bro-hugs, high fives, awkward hellos and so much more. Sometimes it’s really awkward meeting someone new because one person might be a hugger (aka me) while the other might be into handshakes. Here everyone greets you with a “kiss”… I mean, everyone! If you enter church, you “kiss” everyone you make eye contact with. It’s super intimate but I really love it and apologize in advice if I accidently “kiss” you when I see you!
I really miss driving. I never thought I would but I miss being able to get to Target (good Lord, do I miss Target) or Chick-Fil-A (OMG WHAT I WOULD DO FOR NUGGETS) in like five minutes or anywhere in less than 30 minutes. In Santiago, there are cars but you know, I don’t have a Chilean license or anything so my transportation includes walking, the subway, bus or taxi. As much as I miss driving, I really enjoy my other means of transportation, except I haven’t used a taxi yet. Walking allows me to slow down and experience the city and walk off all that bread and empanadas I’ve been eating and I love the metro, or subway. It’s so convenient, easy to use and let’s be real, makes me feel like a cool city girl. The bus is well, interesting. Bus drivers here drive like maniacs and if you don’t hold onto something, you will fall and eat it. The bus system is a tad frightening just because there are so many routes that I get nervous I’ll be on the wrong bus or get off on the wrong stop. Future goal: to be confident in traveling on bus. Overall, I actually prefer the transportation here minus the crazy drivers and always feel accomplished whenever I take the subway somewhere by myself. Self five!
I love, love, love that I am missing Texas’ hot and humid, mosquito filled summer. Unfortunately, I’ll still experience some of it since I am coming back in August but I love the weather here in Santiago. Right now, it’s considered winter with the highs in the 60’s and lows in the 20/30’s. During the day, it feels incredible with the sun shining with a small breeze and at night, it can feel great if you are properly bundled up! The houses have no insulation so I sleep in a long sleeve tshirt, sweatpants, fuzzy socks and sometimes a jacket, with about five layers of covers on my bed. Once I am perfectly wrapped and have shut out all possibilties of the cold, I’m good but getting up in the morning can really be a downer since it’s between 28 to 35 degrees. A down side to Santiago’s weather is unfortunately the smog here.
You can see that there is literally a whole layer above the city of just brown, gray smog. It hasn’t rained once since I have been here and there’s hope for some rain next week. I really hope that the smog goes away before I leave. It hasn’t affected my breathing but if it gets worse, it might since I do have a small case asthma. Plus, if it rains, that means there will be snow on the Andes that surround the city. Gosh, I hope it rains!
Us Texans really need to appreciate our school systems. Schools here are interesting and whenever I am in a class, I am immediattely thankful for the education I had. First off, discipline here is partially applied in classrooms. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the teachers lose majority of their time for teaching because they are constantly telling kids to stop talking, sit down or raise their hands. It drives me crazy. The reason why teachers aren’t more firm with their students is because at this school, it’s a private school where most of the kids come from wealthy families. Unfortunately, teachers are looked at as workers for these families so due to that, they aren’t respected as authority figures. It’s sad and frustrating for me to see these children be so disrespectful. Second, when it comes to higher levels of education, like universities, teachers again can lose their authority. Students here at public universities can protest against their teachers, classes or the university as a whole. With that, protesting can lead to students not attending classes for a month or more! How crazy is that? Just because students might not like something, they can simply choose not to go to class and therefore mess up their academic schedule and can extend school into breaks. There is just little respect for teachers and professor and it’s unfortunate for educators.
Food here is delicious, fresh and pretty simple. There are not a lot of spices, which is ironic since I’m in Chile, but I am not complaining since I have a pallate of a gringa! There are so many different types of food here, which I absolutely love. I’ve had Chinese, which was great, and Mediterranean, along with Chilean food. Seriously, there is Thai, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Peruvian, German and much more! Hot dogs, or completos, are a big deal here and a staple in Chilean food. They eat a lot of bread, avocado,mayonnaise (why???), french fries, beef, seafood, sandwiches and empanadas, which I could eat for every meal, no joke. My goal is to eat a gourmet hot dog, congrio, a white fish only found down here, Peruvian food and every empanada I can find. Also, they eat a lot of McDonald’s, like, I have eaten at McDonald’s more here than ever back home. Weirdly, I am pretty sure it tastes better here. It just doesn’t seem as processed but who knows, I could just be oblivious! Pretty much, if you want a certain type of food, except for real fried chicken, you’ll be able to find it here! But for real, I miss southern food. My first meal back home will consist of Chick-Fil-A and sweet tea and I have no shame about it!
Ha, I just realized that religion is number seven on my list, oh the irony! Anywho, religion here is interesting. Many people here consider themselves to be Catholic, but they aren’t really involved with an actual church. About 11% here is evangelical, which consists of Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist etc, which is different back home. Houston is ranked 9th on the list of the most religious cities in America, which isn’t surprising since there are many large churches like Lakewood, Second Baptist, First Baptist etc. Overall, people here are concerned about living their lives to their rules and Santiago is definitely a lost city. Thankfully, we have people like the Pizarro family who are planting churches and sharing the love of Christ!
I hope that you now have a little more insight into this city and my experiences here. I have a little over a month left and looking forward to spending July being a little more touristy and adventuring into Santiago! Ciao for now!