I must admit I didn't given any thought to this before departing for Chile, but I do remember hearing that your feet may swell while flying? Well, upon arrival in Santiago, after flying through the night and sleeping less than three hours, I couldn't get my sandals on. My mind flashed back to the summer after my senior year when I went to a Braves baseball game in Atlanta and forgot my shoes (it happens, ok?) My trusty friend, Ben, bailed me out by producing a pair of men's size 10 or 11 sneakers from his trunk that he had been fishing (and standing in a pond) in that day. So, without a better option, I slopped through Atlanta and into the stadium in wet, muddy shoes. I was thinking how UN-ideal it would be to arrive in immigrations/customs in Chile barefoot. BUT, I managed to get my sandals on and winced a lot, got some blisters, and made it through. (Analogy: I hope that even when things are difficult and painful here, like my fat feet in my not fat shoes, I can still be just as excited about carrying on with the adventure as I was about arriving in Chile even with painful feet) . . . I have much more to post but I lost it all and now my computer is dying and I can't plug it in . . . so more soon!! LOVE to all. -maggie
I'll try and get more in before it dies. . .
When you arrive in Chile, if you are an American, Canadian, Mexican, English or Albanian, you have to pay an entry fee. Well, most of my cash wasn't accepted because it was too "torn" and "worn"--word to the wise: bring crispy cash when going abroad! I knew this and planned ahead for the cash I was going to exchange, but didn't think about it for my tax. Opps! Kinda defeating. I guess that cash will never experience the life of a Chilean Peso. I arrived at baggage claim and noticed a yellow Labrador retriever in a vest, and then I noticed another, then another -- they were worker dogs, sniffing away. Very cool. I really, really did think I had not been superfluous in my packing, but OH how heavy my luggage was! [and IS!]. I found a place to sit and just tried to get un-overwhelmed enough to figure out how to find my hotel. I asked for directions, and I understood the lady (speaking Spanish), but I was so tired that when she stopped talking, I completely forgot what she said-- I am pretty sure I went in the opposite direction of what she told me, but I was too embarrassed to go back and pass her on my way. The only elevator I could find was under repair by men hanging from the ceiling by harnesses, so I went down three flights of stairs -- with my backpack, computer bag, very large duffel, and small duffel. They were skinny stairs that spiraled down. Let's just say that even 8 plus hours later my arms are aching. Not a pretty sight. The BEAUTIFUL thing is that my hotel is basically connected to the airport -- just across the crosswalk from the main terminal -- gotta love that. I was not feling up to discerning which taxi to take, making my first transaction in Chilean pesos to pay them, ect. I do love a challenge, but that one was just not appealing (I just wanted to sleep!). They let me check in 5 hours early, again, beautiful. I got to my room, figured out internet, showered, slept for about 3-4 hours (I made myself), washed clothes in the sink, unpacked and repacked - trying to make everything more compact and maybe miraculously lighter??
After not having eaten anything since 6 AM, I decided to forgo the hotel restaurant, so very expensive, and head back to the airport for food -- also expensive. I ate a ham and cheese tortilla with guacamole, and, yes, Bumpa, I got bottled water. [Side note: I at at the one restaurant I could find which turned out to be a buffet and cafe -- a really delicious all you eat with asparagus and watermelon and deserts galore buffet -- Tempation. But, it was about 16 American dollars, so I stood strong and said no to that goodness and enjoyed my tortilla. When I got back to my room I realized I left my very kind waitress a pretty poor tip, but I really did mean to leave a good 10 to 15 percent. Math, especially in a new currency where things go by the thousands a lot of the time, is not my strong point. My mom called my hotel room phone from skype which was an exciting surprise. When the phone range, I didn't know if I should answer, because I have heard the whole don't talk to strangers thing sometime or another, and as of now, I know not a single soul in this nation, but then I remembered I am 21 years old for goodness sakes and answered the phone. Ha. Good thing. Well tonight I am going to get some sleep so I can meet my group early tomorrow morning. I received an e-mail from my program leaders and it was signed "Un Abrazo, Rosanna Y Roberto" ("A hug"). I think they are going to be kind because they like hugging.
I have been very grateful for this day to recover from not sleeping and shoer before meething new people, ect. However, I am also very excited to meet my group and start orientation. I'm feeling a need for some orienting right about now.
The sun came up shortly before we landed and I was able to see the Andes mountains rising out of the clouds. It was so, so great. I have officially again decided that God is a really great artist and I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of His world. I have also decided, that while I am very grateful for this opportunity to travel and learn by myself, and I am certain I am going to meet great people-- I am thinking I have been given so many incredible relationships, and I definitly want a buddy on my next big adventure. If nothing else, I could sleep better on the plane if I wasn't worried about knocking into the person next to me, ect.
So, so far, so good. Incredibly overwhelmeing. I have never felt so American, so obvious and so English speaking - and I haven't even left the international airport! Though there have been a few small challenges, I am grateful to be here and look forward to the many more (probably much more intense) and incredible expereinces to come. Thank you for the encouraging e-mails. (And, Amanda, thank you for your letter that made me cry before the plane even took off. Your words were ones that I needed to hear and didn't even know I needed to hear). Mucho Amor a todos. I wouldn't be here without you! -Maggie