Let me clarify, life here (so far) is by no means a grind, nor has it been particularly consistent. I suppose we’re doing roughly the same activities each day – waking up, eating food, walking around town, speaking Spanish, eventually going to bed – but the rhythm and flow has yet to solidify. We remarked today that it felt like we’d been here for far longer than the mere 6 days we’ve been out of the country. We haven’t even been in Puerto Varas a week, and it’s already starting to feel a bit familiar, a bit like home. Progress!
It helps that we have the living situation we do. We live with Luz, an elderly woman who is the mother of one of Leslie’s good friends, who she met while living in Vietnam. Luz is amazing – totally easygoing, one of the most active 78 year old’s I’ve ever met in my life. She keeps a busy schedule, and participates in a lot of clubs around the city. She knits, crochets, cooks, tends her garden, goes out with the family, and I’ve noticed she has a particular fondness for wrapping up the evenings with American television (a lot of reality TV shows on TLC, in fact). She is extremely helpful, doesn’t mind that I spend half the day in the kitchen using her herbs and cookware, and responds to any question we have with a smile and a witty answer. Luz is our Chilean grandmother, and could not look any cuter than when wrapped up in blankets watching TV at night.
The rest of Luz’s family is incredible as well. One of her three daughters lives about 100 feet away in the house at the front of the property, which puts her in frequent contact with two of her grandchildren. It seems to me that their lives here are bustling, pleasing, comfortable. Luz is conscious of conserving the gas (as soon as you’re done showering, run downstairs as fast as you can to turn off the gas that heats the water!), turning off lights, and has an impressive stock of dried herbs from her own gardin (and quite a compilation of herbs sprinkled throughout the yard). It feels a lot like home, between the line-drying, the herb-using and herb-drying, and the attention toward minimizing money spent on basics. Her household doesn’t feature a lot of extravagance, and I see plenty of whole fruits and vegetables in her pantry. Ahhh, home!
Continuing my lifestyle, at least in terms of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” sense, was a point of concern for me. Not that I thought I’d be forced to eat McDonald’s and throw perfectly good pairs of clothes away or anything, but I was very much hoping to continue my slightly-eco-conscious lifestyle and maintain good contact with the Earth. The only thing missing is composting…I’ll see what I can work on with her.
This living situation is very beneficial, especially as I seek to forge my new self-employed lifestyle, because I’m able to come and go as I please. That was another point of concern for me, prior to arrival: I don’t deal well with feeling constricted or “boxed in”, or like I have to suffocate my inclinations or live according to someone else’s standards. Maybe that sounds heavy, I don’t know, but I’m very glad to be in a situation where I can come and go as I please, conduct my days as I please, and everyone lives in harmony.
Furthermore, the house is very close to the center of the city, so it’s a pleasant walk to and from the house each day. Just enough to be a bit of exercise without dreading the haul. Also, when you get closer to the city, the snow-capped volcanoes creep slowly into view and it’s one of those situations that it’s so awesome and beautiful that I get angry and scream a little. I’m sure anyone who knows me can identify this reaction.
I’m thinking of buying a bicycle so I can bike to and fro a bit more easily.
I was also thinking of buying a car, starting a hostel, opening an orphanage, starting a non-profit to teach underprivileged children the art of creative writing, opening a cafe as part of the hostel where I can cook and share all my meals, and publishing three novels.
No, seriously. I’m doing all of that.
More later, friends!