You may be surprised to learn that while you are reading this blogpost, I am currently taking exams (or more like making a zillion group projects). That’s right, folks. I’ve been in class while you’ve all been vacationing. It’s cool.
But in all seriousness, I can’t believe that it’s finals already. There’s no way I’m about to leave this amazing country that I’ve called home for the past 4 months.
Where do I start? So many things have happened since you’ve last heard from me. So let’s go down memory lane, shall we?
San Pedro de Atacama was absolutely incredibly beautiful! As on other trips, I found myself repeating, “this is not real life.” From the Geysers del Tatio to the copious amounts of salt on the ground, everywhere you looked in the Atacama desert took your breath away. (Fun fact: the salt flats in Atacama make up two-thirds of the world’s lithium.) Even a person with a horrible camera couldn’t take a bad picture in Atacama. It’s literally so amazing. Among visits to Valle de la Luna/Valle de la Muerte, the flamingo reserve, Laguna Altiplánico, the geysers and Ojos de Salar, my favorite spot might have to be Laguna Cejar, a lake with a salt content almost as high as the Dead Sea. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to sink! After floating for a bit, the girls and I hopped out of the lagoon covered in salt, and traveled to Laguna Tebinquinche, a shallow lagoon where many people go to see the sunset. The appearance of the mountains as the sun is going down is UNreal. We continued to watch the breathtaking sunset as we took pictures that looked like we were standing on water.
Meanwhile, back in Santiago, I had the opportunity to shadow in hemodialysis and surgery!! Needless to say, hemodialysis wasn’t the most exciting day of clinical observation. However the nurses and patients there definitely made the experience. The patient I talked to was just a plain ole dad, putting his job on hold to take care of his health. It may not be the most fun thing to do 3 times a week, but at least he had the right attitude about it. We also had so much fun with the nurses… By the end of the day, they were asking us to translate things/how to say words in English, and sharing about their vacations to Walt Disney World (shout out to the most wonderful place on earth!).
The next week, I shadowed in surgery at Hospital Clínico Universidad Católica and it was so cool!! I didn’t even faint. The first half of the day, I watched a gastronomia in the very clean, well-equipped operating room, where they took out half of this lady’s stomach via endoscopy. I stared in disbelief at the surgeon, who through just 4 or 5 little tubes, stapled half of the stomach, cut it out of the way, pull it out and then proceeded to suture the half of the stomach that was staying in her body… Like seriously?! Mad props go to the surgeon that could suture endoscopically. I still don’t even think I believe it to this day. Ask any of mis compañeras…those sutures were pretty much the only thing I talked about the days immediately following this observation. The second half of the day, I observed a sinus surgery. Looking at the inside of a nose is not as fun as looking at the inside of your thoracic cavity…however it was a fine day of observation indeed.
Last Sunday, a few friends and I participated in a 5K/10K in Santiago! Among the facts of where the race was to be held and how much it would cost, we also learned that the first 1000 runners to register would receive a free shirt. And let’s be real…we only do things for the tshirts, right? Totally kidding. Anywho, the time came for us to pick up our numbers and our poleras. I was a tad unwilling to travel 45 minutes on public transportation to get to this place, but I’m so glad I did. It’s called Mallsport and is exactly what it sounds like. There are so many outdoorsy stores there it’s a hiker/extreme sports person’s DREAM! I probably turned in circles for a while just to take it all in… Besides the two floors of stores, there were go-karts, rock-climbing and laser tag inside and surfing and ice skating outside! Literally was the coolest thing ever.
The race itself was very well-organized for a first year event. We all gathered at the starting line anxiously awaiting for the countdown clock to dwindle down to the start of the race. Por fin we started and quickly left the pack. After a while, we all separated and ran our separate paces. I was super glad to meet Nina at the start of the second loop! We ran together for most of the second loop and then sadly lost each other. At this point, I was starting to second guess my decision to run a 10K. But you know what? You’re only in Chile once. This totally vale-d la pena. As I turned the corner and saw the finish line in the distance, all my cross-country training (thanks Coach Raabe!) came right back; something in my head clicked and I just sprinted. Out of nowhere. Have absolutely no idea where that energy came from but I finished STRONG. And the best part was hearing everyone cheer for me at the finish line. I sincerely wanted to brag to the person beside me about how great my friends were. I would also like to take this moment to brag on one of the summer program kids, Sierra. She won the race for our age division! Like a boss.
I also had some of these super great friends in tow when I went to see Chicago: the Musical at Teatro Municipal de Las Condes this past Thursday. It was SO great. First of all, they matched the actors/actresses so closely to the characters in the movie. The scenery and orchestra were all fantastic and they all were great singers. It really made me want to just get up on stage and dance and sing with them!! But also teach them some dancing skills, because their battements, for example, were not up to par with the fabulous kicklines of the Wofford Dance Team. Regardless, I absolutely loved the performance. The best part about going on a Thursday night was that it wasn’t sold out; I tell you this because our original seats were on the very left side, literally right over the orchestra pit. However we moved during intermission to the middle section on the floor and it was absolutely fabulous. Great decision, team.
We also got to partake in watching the Chilean national team play…twice! Last Thursday against Paraguay and this past Tuesday against Bolivia. For the game against Paraguay, we went to HBH in Plaza Nuñoa. If you ever want the best soccer game experience without actually going to the soccer game, go to HBH. I really felt like I was there. (This made up for the fact that we tried to get tickets to the Tuesday game and were not successful Going to HBH was definitely the next best thing.) The whole place was filled with people whose eyes were glued to the tv, waiting for Chile to score another goal and take the victory! Chants were constantly spread throughout the place; as soon as one would stop, another would start. SO fun.
I also write this post after a long day of celebrating Bruno’s birthday! Yesterday night, we decorated the living room with blue balloons and a Feliz cumpleaños banner while Josefina was off distracting him. (He totally knew what was happening though.) As soon as the clock struck midnight, we brought him out to see our display of felicidades and cracked open a bottle of champagne. Chileans are really into celebrating the whole 24 hours, and that we did. Tonight, we had family and neighbors over for a big dinner (of pastel de choclo!! A really Chilean dish made of pino, a mixture of hamburger meat and onions, with choclo on top, the Chilean word for corn. It’s really similar to Shepherd’s pie). We sang happy birthday to him, ate cake, took pictures… It really felt like I was part of the fam.
Nina has been such a blessing to our family. Her outgoing personality was just the encouragement I needed to speak more with my family. And in doing so, I feel much more comfortable speaking in general. It could be that I’ve been here for 4 months now, but I’d like to think that she had a little something to do with it too! I’ve also realized that with our new addition to the family, I really don’t want to leave here. At all. Can’t I just stay here forever? I’m going to miss everyone so much!! I just wish that I have made at least half the impact on them as they have on me.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16