Today’s post was originally posted on my previous blog back in March of 2011.
I’d been living in Chile less than a week when I took some cooking classes. Included in them was a class explaining how to make a Chilean cocktail, the Pisco Sour.
This drink is not easy to reproduce back in the US because pisco, a grape brandy produced in Chile and Perú, is not readily available there.
I’ve been here in Chile almost three weeks now. It’s been a quiet time of visiting with friends and getting my feet on the ground.
When I say quiet, I mean mostly “silent.” Compared to my old apartment, which is just a couple of blocks away, this fifth-floor apartment is like a monastery. It took me two weeks to realize that I was hearing the bell and siren from the nearby fire station. All that noise used to rise up to my 16th floor apartment. Now, I barely hear it.
Here, I’m surrounded by other buildings. Outside noises are muffled, and I never hear the cacophony from the street that used to keep me awake at night.
After last week’s blog post, I received the following message from a friend. She’s a repatriated expat, who lived in Turkey for two years.
Like me, she has many doubts about being back in the US. Many “Is this where I belong?” questions. Many moments of “The grass is greener” somewhere else…or is it? What’s it like to go back to find out?
Here’s what she wrote:
Dateline: Santiago de Chile
It’s Saturday night. I’m watching a cooking show on Chilean TV and catching about every third word. My Spanish is a little rusty. The show’s hosts are down in southern Chile, in Puerto Varas, sampling Torta de Murta. It looks pretty darned good. Not sure that I’ve ever tasted murta berries, but they’re as Chilean as Pastel de Choclo, which was yesterday’s lunch.
I arrived here last Wednesday, early in the morning. With only a 30-minute connection in Dallas, I barely made the second plane. My suitcase wasn’t so lucky. It was delayed in transit. After some drama, I finally received it on Thursday evening.
Two more sleeps and it will be “wheels up” for me. Buh-bye, New Mexico. I’m returning to Chile, two days after my permanent residency visa has expired.
I’ll be entering Chile as a “tourist” for the first time in six years. Whew. How’s that gonna feel?
I guess I’ll find out on Wednesday morning. Since there’s no one renting the AirBnB apartment the day before my arrival, the owner is graciously allowing me to check in early that day with no extra fees.
After a shopping trip last week, I sat in the car to look over the bill.
My visits to Walmart usually aren’t very costly, but this bill seemed high. I mentally tallied each item. The blood pressure cuff that I’d thought was $28 turned out to be $45. Must have been placed behind the wrong price tag.
$11.95 for something else. What was that? It was the magazine I’d bought on impulse. The special issue dedicated to Paul McCartney. $11.95 for a magazine?!
I started to return to the store, but laziness kicked in. It was nearly 100º out. The previous blood pressure cuff I’d bought had cost $65, so $45 didn’t sound so bad, and I like Paul McCartney. In fact, I loved Paul McCartney when I was a teen. My fantasies had vacillated between him and George Harrison, the quiet, broody one, but Sir Paul always won my teenage heart in the end.
Last Tuesday, when I went down to my apartment lobby to check the mail, another woman was there at the same time.
Sigi’s* a little German lady who’s probably lived here since the building opened back in the ’60’s. I was a little taken aback that she was standing there in her housecoat and bath slippers, telling me about a workman damaging one of her walls. She was waiting on the repairman to come and give her an estimate.
I was there when he walked in. A young man, he gave her the once-over. His eyes went wide when he noticed her attire. I give him credit for trying hard to focus on her face instead of staring at her clothes.
Ever since working in the travel industry, I’ve had a theory about travel.
Today, a friend invited me on an impromptu drive up toward Santa Fe. It was a bright, sunny day, perfect for a nearby jaunt.
She asked about my French class. Last week, the teacher had told me that I was “courageous.” Apparently, I’m in a class meant for more advanced French students. Considering that I knew nothing more than “Bon jour”, “Merci,” and “Au revoir” when I started, I’m not doing too badly.
I’d been thinking, before I start traveling again, that I should go ahead and change over my New York driver’s license to New Mexico.
I was hesitant to do it because (A) my NY license was good for one more year, (B) it was hard to get, and (C) I’m pretty certain that I don’t want to live in New Mexico. But it’s where I am at the moment, so I decided to do it.
Last week, I started taking a French class.
I’ve always wanted to learn French. A thousand years ago, I went to college in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I transferred there as a sophomore and didn’t have the option of preregistering for classes beforehand.
During the normal registration period, I signed up for the classes I needed. If one was unavailable, I had to start over and rebuild my schedule from scratch, trying to fit the classes together like a Tetris puzzle. I’d already done this twice, which meant running around the entire campus, from department to department, getting approval for admittance.