moving to valpo (2 of 2)
Changing host families continued: As I alluded to, the move itself was by far the easiest part of the entire process; the hard part was waiting. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to live in Valparaíso, not Viña del Mar, so when CIEE offered me a family in each it wasn’t much of a decision. I told them I wanted to move to Valparaíso as soon as possible, and after a short meeting on Friday the 23rd – roughly a week and a half after my initial decision – CIEE scheduled the move for Monday the 26th at 5 pm. This timing turned out to be awkward for a combination of reasons. First, the director needed to confirm the move time, and I wasn’t allowed to broach the subject with my host family until afterward. That alone wouldn’t have been a problem had I not been leaving for a weekend long backpacking trip in the Andes, but as it was, given my late return time Sunday night, I had only a few hours in which to approach them. Nevertheless, at that point I had exhausted my patience for waiting and therefore felt that I couldn’t delay any longer.
Though it was a fitting conclusion to our relationship, the way in which those last twenty-four hours played out was less than optimal. First, when I arrived home Sunday night, dirty, tired, and hungry, I found not only that, as expected, CIEE had confirmed my move time, but also that my host family was gone. My host mom appeared sometime later that night, but immediately shut herself in her room to have a loud phone conversation while watching TV, and by the time she was finished, having resolved to explain my situation the following day, I had gone to bed. Early the next morning I awoke to find the apartment deserted, and so after procrastinating for a few hours by finishing my homework, I gave my host mom a call, told her we needed to talk, and left for class. On the train into Valparaíso I also sent her a text explaining the entire situation because class would end only an hour and a half before my move time, and I knew my phone-Spanish was far from adequate.
Despite my apprehension, however, the last hour in the apartment was relatively straightforward; I spent most of it packing. At that point my host mom was aware of my situation, and after I finished we said our goodbyes, and I left. It seems rather indicative that, like those of middle school, our relationship was terminated via text message.
Thus far my new host family has been everything that my old one was not. I have a host mom who is incredibly bizarre in the most charming of ways, a brother who, like most Chilean twenty-year-olds, does little more than study, watch football, or spend time in bars watching football, and a maid/nana who cooks, cleans, and generally makes fun of me for my Gringo habits. The most important thing, however, is that here I feel like a true member of the family, not an awkward and inept guest. We eat once (Chilean tea/dinner) together each night, go out exploring the city, and chat for hours in the kitchen, which is smallest and most cluttered I’ve seen in my life. I’m looking forward to baking my host mom’s favorite – chocolate chip cookies – for her birthday party is this coming Friday.