Life in South America has proven to be just like life anywhere else, except that it’s in South America instead of North America. And everyone speaks Spanish. And there aren’t that many blondes wandering around. And it’s hard for me to find a size 9.5 shoe. And the culinary culture isn’t that refined. And people aren’t really that into spices. And everyone kisses each other on the cheek when they meet, even when they’re strangers.

Okay, so life in South America is a bit different than life in North America. (Oh yeah — tons more stray dogs!) But since I’ve been able to re-acclimate to life north of the equator, I’ve noticed a few ways that my life overall has been helped — and similarly hindered — by my jaunts down south.

Let’s investigate some!

1. My brain learns, but in order to do so, it must forget. And this involves forgetting English. My handle on idioms, cliches and other parts of speech is at an all-time low. This doesn’t bode well, as I am beginning a venture to brand myself as a language consultant *cough cough*. Hey — who knew they were called speedbumps? Roadbumps is just as effective at getting the point across. And my future language consultancy clients will understand this. (syn: road acne)

2. I now have measuring cups for eyeballs. That’s right, I see in 3-D AND in 1-tsp increments! Due to the absolute dearth of measuring tools in the kitchen (is it just because of where I’ve lived and who I’ve lived with? Or is this an invention that really never made it past the Andes?), I’ve been forced to eyeball, size up and otherwise scrutinize every recipe I’ve ever loved including in my eating lifestyle. Thanksgiving 2012 was a prime example, and my forays into Vaguely Healthy Cookie Creation were met with varying results until I finally pinned down the non-specifically-measured ratio a couple months ago.

Well, close enough. 

3. I am a tad more resourceful. Now, I don’t want you all thinking that I’d be able to fend for myself in the wild, because I certainly can’t, nor can I start a fire, always operate doors or change the gas tank for that damnable space heater in my Chilean living room. However, I CAN think around certain situations where common household items are lacking. For instance, are you making mashed potatoes? Were you scouring your new kitchen for a potato masher, only to find out that not only do you not have a potato masher, you also don’t have anything resembling a bowl in which you’d like to mash? No problem! Find one of those drinking glasses with the uneven bottoms and get to work! Serve AND eat the mashed potatoes out of the same pot you cooked it all in, and to top it off, don’t use napkins (because nobody buys them) and just use the dish towel. Hey, you might be asking, that’s a pretty good idea with the dish towel. Where did that come from? The Argentinians!

4. I speak great Spanish now. Finally. Also, I can understand almost any Spanish you try to throw my way. Thanks, Chileans.

5. I speak hodgepodge Spanish. As in, Mexican-Chilean-Argentinian Spanish. My accent shifts between all three, freely utilizing vocabulary and expressions from three distinct cultures. Someday, this will get me into trouble.

6. I am losing my grasp on normalcy. Some might argue this has been a long time coming, but I assure you, taking the leap has hastened this demise. I suppose ‘normalcy’ is a term that can be argued until the alpacas come home (what?), but living life this off the grid has certainly shifted (re: completely destroyed) my paradigm. In losing my grasp on normalcy, I am finding more expansive happiness, plentiful creativity and penetrating gratefulness. More things seem possible, life feels limitless, and joy lurks around every corner. This doesn’t mean life is some effortless, non-squeaking joint that operates perfectly at every moment. But rather, I’ve come to appreciate and laud the aches and groans and squeaks and eventual functioning of these joints, because these limbs are carrying me to places — both physical and emotional — I’ve always dreamed of.

7. Questionable metaphors, like the one found in item 6, tend to be more predominant. I don’t know why, or how to fix it.

8. I will probably only ever wear black leggings for the rest of my life. No, seriously — bury me in leggings and a slouchy shirt, because that’s all I ever want to wear.

A beach in Huron, OH, complete with sunset, lake,
slouchy shirt and leggings. 

It’s up to you, reader, to decide if these items have helped or hindered!