Sunday, February 28, 2010


I was dreaming when I first felt the earth moving. It took my mind some
time to awaken, realize there was something wrong, label it “earthquake” and tell
my body to run to my host parent’s room. I was still delirious when I reached
their doorway where my host sister had already fixed herself. My host parents
were inside their room, one securing the TV and the other holding on to the
dresser. It was my first experience feeling the ground move left to right like that,
like some kind of dizzying carnival ride you feel sick after. I watched as the house
literally swayed with the current. My mamá grabbed my hand tightly. We heard
the lamp crash, the shelves fall, the dishes jumping, the car alarm sounding, the
windows rattling, the world ripping apart at it’ seams… but underneath the chaos
my family kept assuring one another, “Tranquilo, tranquilo, tranquilo.”

The shaking lasted three minutes. Just after it subsided, my mom went for
the candles and I for my cell phone flashlight to survey the damage. The noises
around were unsettling, with alarms and sirens and screaming like a movie sound
effect. We went together, my host sister and I, holding hands, into the living room
and kitchen. I, praying the whole time, helped replace some of the tumbled
objects but because they knew aftershocks would follow, we left heavy things like
the stereo on the ground where they had fallen.

Opening the front door to see the outside world, I momentarily forgot the
electricity had gone out—everything was so well illuminated just as if the street
lights were on. My sister pointed to the sky: a brilliant round moon and vividly
bright stars. “Mala suerte,” I joked, noting the stereotypical omen of bad luck on
nights with a full moon. But just after I said that, I realized that the opposite was
true; this sky light was actually a gift from God for the people who would remain
without electricity through the night, attempting to collect themselves and gather
their families and belongings. My mind immediately jumped to the poorer parts
of Santiago, where strong houses like mine are not found and where there for
sure would be more than just broken plates. The moon would guide the victims
away from their collapsed surroundings and (perhaps) save lives. Seeing as the
terrible earthquake in Haiti happened in the middle of the night too, I wondered
if they had a full moon too?

The aftershocks my parents predicted did come, and are still coming, and
might continue to come for another 5 months. This morning at 8:30am I awoke
to the now familiar feeling. It makes me nervous just hearing a slight rattling
from my bedroom window, even if it’s moving from the outside wind, because it
means another rumbling is approaching. For the most part however, I am
remaining tranquila through remaining with God. The damage here was
thankfully very little compared to other parts of the country, both in Santiago and
in both directions outside the city. We visited my host brother’s house in the hills
outside of Santiago, and his whole neighborhood is without running water,
houses are cracked in two, and roofs completely caved in. He and his family
cannot even occupy their house right now, and imagine the families who have
nothing to occupy anymore.

I’m not sure how school will go from here, with registration and the first
day previously scheduled to be next week. The country is in a declared state of
emergency, and most businesses and public transportation are still closed. The
government is asking that people not be traveling around the city or even leaving
the house if not necessary as they try to survey the damage and help the
desperate. Thus I will be staying in for awhile.

I end my story with a plea for your prayer for my newly adopted country
and for my newly adopted people, mi gente. I’m sure at some point you will be
able to donate money too, but for now there is nothing you (or I) can do but ask
for the stability and safety of the country once again, for the rescue of those still
trapped, and for the families of the over 700 people who died. Know that I am
fine, gracias a Dios, and as soon as I can I will be a part of the relief efforts down
here at the end of the earth.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mi Casa (es su casa)

Greetings from the end of the earth...

My Chilean family is so wonderful. Here are 3 reasons in photos why they are perfecto for me:

 My room's wall. Note the bright green wall and Gaugin painting.
They grow grapes outside my room above their garage.
 They bought me chocolate as a welcoming gift. 

My family consists of Papa, Mama, and Stefie, my 23 year-old rad sister. They are all wonderful and are super hospitable. I feel very at home and I enjoy this place very much.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I am here in Santiago, and I can only compare it to a story Elizabeth Gilbert tells in Eat, Pray, Love (my guilty pleasure plane read):

When a new hen needs to be introduced to an already formed group of chickens, the farmer cannot just place the chicken in the coup during the day, because the others will consider the newcomer a threat and attack her. Instead, the farmer places the chicken in the coup during the night while both the others and new one is sleeping. When the group wakes up, they see the new chicken and assume they just never noticed her before. The clincher is, awakening within this flock, the newcomer herself doesn't even remember that she's a newcomer, thinking only, "I must have been here the whole time..."

This is how I arrive in Santaigo. I feel like I have been here the whole time.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Count Down to Chile

9 days...
until I leave for Santiago, Chile for 6 months to study abroad and change my life.

I supposed I would make a list of goals, places I want to see, etc. in preparation for departure, but you know what? Sometimes it's best not to make plans. Yes that is super cliché and is not at all nothing original, but I do declare myself free from goals and lists! Freeeeeeeee!

How lovely.

I will use this nook on the world wide web to communicate my discoveries to anyone who cares to read. 

Bienvenidos a mi mundo, compañeros.