Saturday, March 15, 2008

Las Despedidas of Summer and Natalie

The word despedida is on the list of Spanish words that I love, being a word whose meaning and the feelings it expresses cannot be fully explained if translated into English. Any attempt would be something like "goodbye party" or "time to say goodbye." As I said though, the word doesn't quite express the same sentiment in English as it does in Spanish.

February is the last month of summer, and Natalie and I used any opportunity we had to give summer its proper despedida. We couldn't have started it any better - soon after my return from the U.S., we went to the beach towns of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso and attended one night of Chile's yearly national summer concert festival, seeing Nelly Furtado, Calle 13 (Reggatone/Spanish rap), and Amango (Chile's TV version of High School Musical.) At times, it seemed it was teen night, but we had a great time. In the days leading up to the event, Natalie and I laid out on the beach and soaked up the sun. Returning froom the beach weekend, I joined Natalie in working at the Congregation's pool each day, supervising the orphanage kids as they swam (when I say swim, it really meant jumping in the pool over and over, or climbing on me asking to drag them all over the pool while I swam, haha.) Any extra time we had was spent going out with friends, often to small bars or pubs where we could sit out and enjoy the summer night with a few cocktails.

The first week of March brought cause for another despedida: Natalie's departure from Chile, ending her time as a Holy Cross Associate. Like Summer's despedida, Natalie's extended over several weeks. Literally each day soemething was scheduled, whether it was a barbecue or lunch at someone's house, bowling night with the gringos, or one last card night at a friend's house. The main event of all this was a party in which all the people Natalie's life has touched throughout her time here were able to show up and say goodbye over drinks and food. The party was a huge success, so much so that around midnight we were afraid of making the neighbors angry so we went out to a bar. The bar was okay, although Natalie and I were not impressed with the music (techno? really? come on now...) So, Natalie and I decided to leave and head back home. Feeling pretty good from a few cocktails and while searching for a cab, Natalie spotted a large plaza with lots of people and restaurants, and said "they look like they are having fun, let's go see what they are up to." And so, we crossed the street - in which a sushi restaurant was found and prompted us to stop for some late night/early morning eats. Who knew you could get sushi and margaritas at 3:30am in Santiago?? A great end to a really fun night and weeks of celebrating Nat's 1 1/2 years in Chile.

And so, the same day we said goodbye to Summer, we sadly said goodbye to Natalie. It was even noted in the weather - the first day of Natalie's absence brought rain and grey skies for the entire day, signaling fall is here and winter is on its way. She is certainly missed, but those who know Natalie know that this was the best decision for her and her time here in Chile was certainly not wasted.

With any despedida brings changes, a new way of life combined with the old. As you can imagine, two despedidas in the same month certainly makes things a bit different. On my own now, it is a new way to live, but one I have found myself quickly adapting to due to the return of the school/work year, and 14 hour work days. Yet, the work and all that it brings has been welcomed and the way that things continue to go, my own despedida will be here before you or I know it.


At 3/15/2008 3:09 PM, Blogger Patrick Furlong said...

Dude, you eating Sushi, who would have ever guessed.

Awesome post. Hearing about the pool, I can´t lie, brought nostalgic memoires flooding forward. If I send you something, can you give it to Paola and Camilla and Domingo?


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