Tag Archives: Chile

Life is to traveling as traveling is to life

15 Jun

Someone told me this and it stuck in my head: “when you travel, it wakes up your instincts…and from that, you learn.”

I thought, “then wouldn’t LIFE itself be just like traveling? Traveling through the minutes with new situations hitting you constantly and waking up our instincts? And every time, no matter what, we just have to keep on going?? Wait……………….keep on going EVEN if the situation sucks?”

Totally hott dude with dog companion on beach

Can’t my travel through life be a trip to the Bahamas with an all-inclusive hotel where I meet this totally hott dude running with his dog companion on the beach?

I can tell you that my life/trip in Chile has done way more than give me a cocktail on the beach. It has enraged me at times. My security and patience instincts will never be the same. Getting robbed and waiting for two hours for dinner when you’re starving will do that to you.

But, at the end of the day, I learned.

We are blind when we first start life. We don’t know what the hell is going on. But as we go, our instincts are awoken and we say, “Oh, guess I shouldn’t do that next time. Oooops.”

You learn streets best when you learn them lost. You learn customs best by throwing yourself into the country. Here is a better one: I learned the dirty word for “penis” in Chile when I screamed it at a party trying to offer everyone “pisco”, but accidentally said, pico. Oooops…again.

My fave pico...I mean pisco.

As we all know and have heard from religions, artists, and our dearest parents, “one learns through experience.”

But, we really learn depending on our reaction.

Reactions are difficult when you are robbed. Or lied to. Or cheated on. My reaction to the thirteen year old boy who robbed me was not a reaction I would have given if someone had given me something free. I won’t go into further detail as I am sure it is obvious of my choice of words.

An experience can be an adventure, an affair, an encounter, an ordeal, or a test.

It may be a music festival that lifts your heart and soul through mere words and streaming sounds. Perhaps it was a woman you met who could only speak when her husband allowed her to. Or, it could have been the only person you loved most in this world, tell you that they don’t love you anymore.

Life presents us with things that are marvelous or humbling. Brilliant or depressing. Lovely or scary. Enlightening or embarrassing. We experience humility, confusion, selflessness, anger, loneliness, and pure happiness.

Lets face it. Life can sometimes suck or be stand-on-your-toes-jump-in-the-air-do-a-dance brilliant!

Whatever the experience, I think it is one of the most beautiful concepts in this world. Why?

Because it forces us to go beyond what we think our worth is.

Having said that, next time a big shocker of an experience comes your way on your life trip, remember it happened because life did it. Good or bad, be smart about your reaction and take it as a lesson.

Hopefully by the time I’m 80 I will have learned enough to not accidentally yell “penis” at parties in foreign languages.

My Madre Was Right About the Earthquake

3 Mar

It is Saturday morning at 8:30. I am awoken by a text message that says an earthquake, that was 500 times stronger than the catastrophe in Haiti, hit the country where my dearest friends live.

500 times stronger.

I immediately open Skype. My mind is racing with the most depressing thoughts in 1,000 directions.

Where is Daniela? Camila lives in Rancagua, how was the damage there? It was a Friday night. I know that everyone was out when the earthquake hit.

I cry.

I call my friends to their cell phones and receive no response. Landlines aren’t working. Cell phones aren’t working. Internet isn’t working.

It is 8:45, seven hours after the earthquake, and my immediate communication with them is now a black hole.

I have never felt such a strong sense of helplessness in my entire life. The helpless feeling becomes unfathomable.

As I lie in my silent, safe, and standing home, my head is panicking. I cry even harder.

What are my best friends doing right now? Where are they? Were they on vacation where the earthquake struck? Are any of them alone and needing medical help at this exact moment?

An hour has passed and the only thing I can do is think blank, unanswered thoughts.

I have a flashback–last winter. It was the night my madre had the most serious face. I could always see her expressions.

“Hannah, there is going to be an earthquake in Chile soon and it will be really bad,” she said. She began to run her hands through her hair quickly, as she always did when she was talking about politics, crime, etc. I stood confused and terrified, still listening to her explanation. How did she know this?

I never thought about that night, again. I blocked it out. That could never happen to the country that I love.

I have another flashback. The day that I left through the gate of my madre’s yard to leave four months of my life in Chile behind me. I was not thinking it would be an earthquake that could devastate my second home.

Devastate my best friends’ lives. Devastate their families’ lives. Devastate the places that we adored. The places were we formed our strongest relationships with each other, always looking past the differences of the two cultures.

Devastate a country whose people have a hospitality about them that is non comprehensible.

Two hours have passed. The pain from my helplessness has become numb. I cannot do anything for them at this moment.

I stare at my computer, waiting for a ring from Skype. Watching and hating CNN for everything that they are telling me, and everything that they are not telling me.

Finally, there is a ring.

A call from a best friend who tells me that he is fine. That his house is fine. That Alvaro is fine. That my madre is fine.

The ground is not okay, but they are all right. Their life is okay.

Even today, I am still waiting to make sure that my friends’ family members have been found and are well. I waited two days until I received a message from Camila. The sense of helplessness is still heavy for those that are still searching.

However, I am utmost grateful for the peace of mind that we have all received in these past days from knowing who is safe.

Those that we love are unhurt, and that is the most important thing to remember during this time of catastrophe.

¿Por qué ‘Vuelvo Allá’?

12 Jan

My first ever blog in my history of blogging.  I like it.  I also like Chile and that is what is going through my head 60% of the day.  Chile also explains the name that I chose for my blog–“vuelvo allá.”  Long story short: as your typical blonde, southern-accented, small town girl who has lived in the same state all of her life, I lived in Santiago, Chile last August through December.  I want to go back.

Yes, I know there are people reading this thinking, “not a big deal.”  However, I know there are those Southerners who wonder why in the hell I chose a country that had the first-ever democratically elected Marxist president and is now Socialist.

Heaven forbid, Socialism.

Going back to my thoughts 60% of the day, it happens.  I think about my time in Chile.  As for those who are world travelers, you may not want to read the rest of my, “I am bright-eyed and bushy tailed from my foreign experiences” story.  Perhaps it will remind you of your thoughts 20 years ago when you first left your country.  However, those who are not world travelers, you may want to continue with my raving and explanation for my blog name.

Sixty percent of my day, I want to return.  This explains my name, “vuelvo allá (literally meaning, “I return beyond”). 

The experience was not easy as pie.  The typical horror things occurred.  My bag with debit card, cash, Chilean license, and cellphone was literally cut off my body and taken by a 12 year old; I was yelled at negatively and positively–either for my blonde hair or for being an American (I think it is clear as to which caused the negative yells); I now mispronounce words in English due to my struggling efforts of learning Spanish for four months; and since Chile is the second largest consumer of bread in the world, I ate almost enough to gain my “Freshman 15” Senior year of college. 

Woo!  No, thank you, 40 types of Chilean bread for giving me the Kardashian-look.  I have brought you back on my body to the USA without having to get YOU a VISA!

So, I had a traumatizing robbery, was stared and yelled at so much it would be considered violating in my culture, can’t speak English, and my bathing suits may or may not be replaced by next summer.

I would never wish for anything else.  A cellphone and debit cards are just “things,” my English can revive itself, and I am starting to like my Kardashian butt.

Quiero volver allá.  Before Chile, my poor eyes had only seen outside of my country a total of four weeks in my entire life.  I thought, socialism=bad, communism=hell, central heat and air=in mostly every house and absolutely necessary for life, a woman president=highly unlikely, metros=what??, not owning at least one car per household=(even bigger) what??, and just thinking about not believing in Christianity=that is unnatural as a human.

Chile taught me something. As childish as this sounds, I mean every simple word of it: this world is a lot more fun.  I feel that I have a trillion cultures, governments, religions, people, and beautiful places to discover and unveil.

Most importantly, the people.  I want to return to my beloved friends.  The ones who were patient with my Spanish every minute and love me for my quirky, philanthropist, and sensitive self.

Cultures. Governments. Religions. People. Places.  It is what I will think of 60% of the day and blurb it out when I feel a tick for writing.  There are things that I will admit about myself that I have learned, even if it makes me seem shallow or foolish. I am foolish.  I know this because I am growing, and no one grows until they become foolish.

Hopefully, “yall” might want to read for inspiration to travel…leaving your bubble. Or, perhaps you may find some entries witty.  I just know that this will help me “vuelvo allá.”

Now, I’m wondering what I was I thinking about 60% of the day before I left for Chile?  Socialism=bad, Communism=hell…