Last night we went to the airport and dropped off my American host sister, another student from my university who was living with my family this semester. It was emotional. Leaving- whether it’s the States or Chile- is definitely my least favorite part of traveling. That and all the hours in the plane. Someone really needs to work on a more efficient and cheaper way of travel. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just pop back and forth between continents? Then you could just go down for a long weekend. I could have come back to the States for the Fourth of July. I could come down for Chilean Independence Day. Are we agreed that someone needs to work on that? Okay, aerospace engineers. Get to it.
I’ve become more settled here the second time around. I live in a house with my family. I could actually manage giving someone directions in my neighborhood. I have places that I like to shop, and I know where to go to buy certain things. I know that fifteen minutes can make all the difference between a 50 minute and a 90 minute commute. I have a routine (and anyone who knows me knows that I love a routine).
And yet, other things have happened that have been unsettling. There’s been a spat of robberies affecting my friends and coworkers lately- nothing particularly serious, but unfortunate all the same. I work in a part of town that’s quite different from where I live. I’ve seen what it’s like to be young and alone in a foreign country, and how hard it can be when you only have yourself to rely on. I’ve been exposed to more poverty, which is always uncomfortable. And it should be. I’m not saying you should avoid the glance of the homeless man begging for coins on the bus. Not at all. You shouldn’t. But you shouldn’t ever feel comfortable or nonchalant when you can tell that he hasn’t showered in several days, and that his hands are so cracked and dry that they’re bleeding. It’s unsettling. It’s unsettling when the bus driver doesn’t pay attention to the elderly woman getting off of the bus and closes the doors before she’s out- resulting in her falling out when he barely stops and opens the doors again (Note: everyone got off the bus and about half of the passengers stayed back to help. Buena onda. Clueless bus driver.). It’s unsettling when we have to go home early from work on protest days because the protests can get out of control enough that for those who live in the center of the city (not me. Not even close. I completely bypass all protests.), it can be dangerous to get home.
Does that make me cuica? Cuico/cuica is the chilenismo for snob, except it’s a little more derogatory. Is it cuica to avoid certain areas of town because it’s far away from home, I don’t want to go there on the bus, and I don’t want to pay for a taxi there? Is it cuica to always pay for a taxi if I’m going home alone? Is it cuica not to venture past Bellavista/Lastarria or outside of Ñuñoa when I go out? Does being unsettled by all of the things in the paragraph above make me cuica?
I can’t apologize for my limits. I know where I’m comfortable and where I’m not. If I’m uncomfortable- as in, I feel like something is wrong- I will not enjoy myself. I’m not a risk-taker. I’m settled. For as young as I am, I really like being settled. And I think the more settled I get, the easier it is for me to be unsettled.
Friends and family: I would like to re-emphasize that all of the crime and safety things mentioned above affected other people, not me. And that this is crime you will find in any big city in the United States. And that I take plenty of safety precautions, and overall, everything is good! Everything is very good. It’s all flying by, and I won’t get into it now because I’m a broken record on that subject.
Maybe I’ll bake something today. Or take a walk. Or read. Or all of the above.
Should I do a food post soon? Yeah. I think that’d be good. Chilean food, round 2!
Cuídense! With love,