Leslie and I both sent packages in advance of our arrival to Puerto Varas, thinking that they would be here when we arrived, bursting with forgotten treasures and sundry wearables that would positively impact the number of dresses available for our daily wardrobes.
It’s been three weeks since our arrival and neither has shown up. I sent mine about a month ago. What’s worse is that Leslie sent hers nigh on three months ago from Vietnam.
I spoke to the post office once already about this and they told me that packages from the US usually take about a month to arrive, depending on customs, if they get detained, etc. A tracking number will let them know where on Earth it is, or even if it’s on Earth, if it’s been too long.
I have yet to remember to email my dad about finding this tracking number that I wisely set aside prior to leaving the US (hey dad, if you read this, could you send me that? My short-term memory loss has prevented me from remembering to email you about this for a week now). Leslie’s tracking number was in the wallet that was ganked (re: stolen) in Santiago. She’s sure that the Saigon Post Office will be less than helpful in finding said number, if she were to attempt to call.
So we wait. And we wait.
Or, we show up at the post office and articulate in half-Mexican Spanish and half-Chilean Spanish that I am still waiting on a package and would kindly like to know if there’s anyway I can receive word about my goods.
I was given a list of received packages today when I went to inquire. Nigh on one hundred pages of boxes, arranged by date received. I combed the list, looking for anything resembling “Shannon”, “Leslie” or “Luz” (the woman we’re living with). About twenty pages in, I saw a package sent to the name of Luz that arrived October 30th. Hark!
My excitement needed no translation (though I’m not sure if the mail clerk was looking at me suspiciously or if that was just his lazy eye). He checked in back and said, “Yes, the package is here”. As in, on the premises, perhaps a mere twenty feet from where I stood. He asked me how I knew Luz – what connection did I have with the lady and why was I trying to procure her mail? I told her we live with her, and our packages were sent to her name.
“Luz must come pick it up.”
Fine. Fine. I receded graciously, but fuming on the inside. I’m not one to mess with protocol, but the simple fact that perhaps Leslie’s or my personal belongings were sitting within sneezing distance from where I stood was a bit too much to walk away from. God knows how hard it is to accomplish any variety of tasks in the US regarding proof of personal identification, so I wasn’t planning on pushing the issue in a foreign country. BUT DAMN. IT’S RIGHT THERE.
Or is it? Perhaps something for Luz was waiting back there, snickering and rubbing its hands together, waiting to devastate the fervent hopes of two American girls expecting an iHome, summer dresses and a variety of VERY IMPORTANT BOOKS AND JAMS.
The anticipation is killing me. Luz will know, the second i see her later, that there is a mystery box that has been waiting for someone at the residence for almost two weeks now. And we must find out immediately what lies within. SO HELP ME GOD.
The American “Instant Gratification” complex is a personality trait that doesn’t translate well into other cultures.
This personality trait (or flaw?) applies nicely to the next area of discussion, that of job seeking. We are equipped with varying amounts of money, between the three of us, but as time passes and we continue to slowly permeate the community, funds dwindle regardless of initiative, intent or success.
My job search is technically postponed, but the other two need them a bit more urgently. I am still making good money coming from the US, and so what I’m looking for, if anything, is something part-time. When I first got here I joined the job hunt along with the other girls, and even applied for a position (“applied” meaning left my resume in a deposit box in the basement of the local casino….like that’s ever going to be reviewed. Sheesh.).
But as it turns out, I’m actually able to maintain livable income via my stateside pursuits, and devote the remaining working hours and free time to the pursuit of publication. I have been a writer since I was 9 years old (my first novel was called “A Weird Moon” and later that same year I received my first rejection letter from Highlights Magazine) and have written a startling amount of novels and have an even more startling amount of unfinished short stories. Not to mention the travel articles that go up online (Vagabondish.com being a notable source), and other pieces that appeared in my college years.
Part of my goal for coming here was to devote myself full-time, or as close to full-time as possible, to Writing. To get back into the creative groove. I used to write every single day for years, staying up way-to-late writing in my bed with actual *gasp* pen on paper, but it tapered off once I graduated college and entered the adult workforce. Pretty soon I was looking at my novel once every six months, and my creative writing juices had almost dried up. Creativity is a skill that must be practiced, so once I quit my job at the health clinic I began exercising these muscles again.
When you enter a country, the visa forms require you to fill in an Occupation box. This used to be easier, back when I was a Student or Gainfully Employed. What does a straggler vagabond put in the Occupation box? I didn’t want to lie, and I didn’t want to put “Vagabond”, either. So when I entered Chile and was faced with the somehow demeaning and too cut-and-dry task of defining myself, I slowly and purposefully spelled out “Writer”.
So, it’s official now. And with the recent success I’ve had re-committing myself to this goal, and the inspiration I feel to make this dream finally become a reality, I suppose this is my first job here now. I am a writer living in Chile. A writer doing a variety of other things with her days and breath, but I suppose that’s life, isn’t it? Rarely is there one pursuit that occupies 100% of our attention. And knowing my lifestyle and my brain habits, I tend to be pursuing a minimum of 10 different things on any given day.
The other girls continue their search. Soon we will be hanging fliers advertising English classes, and then we will continue to scour the city for serving jobs, bar tending positions, kitchen help, anything that puts some pesos in their pockets. High season is just on the cusp of exploding. December is when it all happens around here. So within a few weeks, we should really be able to find something.
More than anything, I am confident we will all be wildly successful. Even if it takes a minute, even if it means the brakes on our budgets start smoking. We’ll get there. And if we don’t, I’ll be ready and waiting to write all about it in our pending travel memoir.