Friday, May 01, 2009

Adventures in Talca

Well, today is May 1st and that marks exactly 17 days until I am headed back to the US permanently. Time is simply flying by and I still have much to do on my to-do list, such as places to see, foods to eat. etc. Yet, as the days get colder and winter creeps in, I am glad knowing that nice weather awaits me in just a few weeks.

Work itself is a bit mundane, as the transitioning of all of my projects to new coordinators is coming to an end. As a result, I find myself with time to complete the things on my to-do list, although I seem to keep adding things to the list every day. I also find myself with time to visit people, which is nice. The best is that I am spending more time at the orphanage, playing with the kids, although each time I attempt to leave the kids there are always a few tears from some that are worried I will not come back before I leave for good, despite my assurances that this will not be the case. Last Sunday, I realized that departing from them will by far be one of the hardest things about leaving my life here.

Today is the feriado, or federal holiday, of Labor Day. As happens in the United States, no one works and everyone travels. A few days ago I decided to spend the long weekend visiting my very good friend Sarah who is a Maryknoll volunteer in Talca, about three hours south of Santiago. Last night, after spending the day visiting SeƱora Sara and her granddaughter Amanda for Amanda's 7th birthday, I made the trip to the bus terminal to buy a ticket and make my way to Talca. Silly me, I forgot that it is usually wise to buy a bus ticket ahead of time on holiday weekends; the terminal was packed and I found myself squeezing through people and fighting my way to the front of the line (line etiquette does not exist in Santiago and it is a survival of the fittest thing.) For those that knew me when I first arrived in Santiago, and how the large city overwhelmed and scared me a bit, they would be amazed at how I managed everything so calmly last night - in fact, it was really just second nature. Anyway, long story short, I was told there were not any buses for the night at the company I wanted and ended up walking around the terminal talking to every bus company, finding out they too were sold out of tickets to Talca for the night. As luck (or God) would have it, I heard a man telling a salesperson that he did not want his ticket to Talca for the night and that he wanted a refund. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity and found myself with a ticket for a bus two hours later. Sitting against the wall of the terminal, waiting for the two hours to pass, I thought to myself how much I had changed in the last 2 1/2 years and how comfortable and ready I feel about moving to New York City, which is great.

Arriving late last night, Sarah and I talked and walked to the corner for some late night food (love random corner food stands in the countryside!) This morning, we had a very adventurous day, walking three hours to and up the local "mountain/large hill" of the town, where a huge statue of the Virgin Mary looks down on the city with a fantastic view. After, we headed into town and ate at the restaurant "Las Viejas Cochinas," (The Dirty Old Women, haha.) Las Viejas Cochinas is a must-stop for anyone who comes to Talca. For a whole 10 dollars a piece, we had more food than Sara and I have both eaten in long time, including a liter pitcher of Ponche (white wine, sugar, and fresh strawberries), a huge steaming clay bowl of 20 clams and mussles along with a half of broiled chicken and broth, and a huge portion (that we could not finish) of bread and sopaipillas (fried squash bread) with a delicious tomato, garlic, salt, and oil salsa. Needless to say, we felt pretty good leaving (in large part due to the ponche) and were happy about the two hour walk back home.

And so, I am hanging out here until Sunday morning, when I will return to Santiago and travel directly to the orphanage to spend the day with the kids. Monday I will have my last spiritual direction and will continue to work on my to-do list throughout the week, stopping by the various schools I work at to get some things done and have a few meetings. On Friday, the priests and brothers of Holy Cross will be having a goodbye dinner for me, which I am very much looking forward to. They have been a large part of my experience here and have always been so supportive of all that I have done.

One of the things on my to-do list is to make various videos of my life here. It is not exactly top priority, but I am hoping I get to them sometime before I leave. If I do, I will certainly post them on the blog - stay tuned!

Until next time,

- M

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