moving to valpo (1 of 2)

In all honesty, blogging about these past two weeks has been hard.  Most weeks produce a lot of content – and this one was no exception – but thus far I have been unable to package it into something readable, and more importantly, seemingly significant.  Then again, usually life refuses to fit into sensible packages.

The last week and a half has been marked by the somewhat traumatic, dramatic, and not to mention frustrating experience of switching homes.  Beginning with the trip between orientation and their house, my relationship with my initial host family was less than fantastic.  Initially they were friendly enough, though somewhat removed, but that I attribute more to my lack of Spanish than anything else; even after a month of practice I only have had meaningful interactions with the most patient victims of my broken conversation.  That said, the moment we entered the house my host brother disappeared into his room while my host mom showed me around the kitchen.  A few hours later my host mom took me out – for the first and last time – to show me a small part of Cerro Concepcion, about a minute walk from where I’m now living in Valparaíso.

I remember that first weekend in Viña del Mar particularly well because, while I had expected spend it acclimating to life in a foreign culture with my new family, I instead spent it virtually alone.  At one point my host mom explicitly stated that my brothers had little time for anything other more than their usual activities, and proceeded to ask me why I was not participating in extracurricular activities.  Given that I’m not the most outgoing person and that the language was still truly a barrier, I had a lot of time to myself.

Despite this conflict of interests, however, making the decision to switch homes took a long time.  Two posts ago I wrote about necessity of forging expectations, especially when travelling, and at the time I thought that perhaps my I had set my expectations too high.  The family that I was previously with wasn’t bad – although the location was horrible for me; la calle Alvares feels like a generic Florida strip – I simply wanted more than perpetual apathy.  But while adapting is crucial to any adventure that involves travelling, so too is holding on to those expectations that are most important.  I chose to live with a host family so that, despite my lack of communication ability, I would have more opportunities to experience Chile with Chileans.  Therefore, because that wasn’t happening, I needed to move.

Today I was late to class twice because I got involved in various menial conversations with my new host family.  Suffice to say, so far moving seems to have been the right decision, but more on that process later.