Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to Chile

During the long flight back to Chile, I sat next to a Chilean man who had been to the US on business(something to do with a US system for poultry processing). He knew some English so we had a long conversation-it still strikes me as funny today that his command of the English language included saying "shit" in every sentence at least once and I'm sure he didn't know it's not exactly "correct". And I didn't have the heart to mention it. So, an overnight flight and waking up to morning and sunrise over the Andes. I managed to get all the correct lines and get my baggage and was soon greeted by Chilean taxi drivers and then Michael broke from the crowd(nice to be tall!) and whisks me away.

It's summer again! Leaving Denver in the cold and then to be outside of the Santiago airport in the heat is just strange. I know it's been 12 or 14 hours is strange. We hop in the jeep(after stowing my bags of treasure) and roll the windows down and we're on our way to Pirque. The now-familiar sights along the highway and then the road to Pirque(yes, I remember-right here, left there) and we're at the house again. I open the door and there are my things and I have an urge to look and touch these items. I must be home.

Michael has been working hard while I've been gone and I'm ready to jump in and help. The strangest thing happens-I got sick. It must have been a virus combined with the change of temperature and humidity(cold, dry Colorado to hot, humid Chile) and the result was that I became quite sick with normal flu-like symptoms but as those subsided, I lost my equilibrium. I couldn't walk straight-or even at all without support. I was completely dependent on Michael to walk any distance at all. "This is what it feels like to be very, very old" I thought. "What if I don't get my balance back? What if I don't get better". But surely I will. As someone who almost never gets sick and never had to be dependent, it was life-changing. We still didn't have internet at the house so were going to the internet cafe for short periods of time. I missed the internet terribly. This was my lifeline to family and friends, to a library of information, news and current events. Combined with being an invalid of sorts and just having left my family, it felt devastating. After about a month, Helia gets a prescription from her doctor which I take for 10 days-and it does nothing. I've looked on the internet and decided it's probably caused by an ear infection and I need antibiotics. Michael hatches a plan for Helia to take me to her Spanish speaking only doctor. So I pay extra to have Helia to interpret Spanish to English and insist on antibiotics. By now, I'm worried. But the antibiotics clear it up and I'm normal again in 2 weeks or so. Whew!

The internet. The neighbor next door helps us connect to his internet(sort of-it's too far away) through the wireless router we brought. So I have internet while standing in the tool shed. Our neighbor is wonderful for helping us and I am happy to have some access to internet although it's not reliable and sometimes we still go to the internet cafe for a quick email check(3 days without internet access, I find, is my limit). Getting internet(or phone etc) has proved to be quite difficult. The utility poles(there is a one a few feet on the other side of our fence) here are not as easy as calling the company and hooking up. There are complicated rules we don't understand. You must get permission to use any poles(poles are owned by the landowner not the company) and even then other rules may preclude that use(only so many or only certain types may use certain poles). Over the months, it only gets more complicated. So no internet. We ask and ask. We get answers of "no problem" but still nothing happens. The best thing about Chile is that things are slow here. And that's also the worst. There is no sense of urgency at all. A friend in far southern Chile recently ranted about no electricity after a year-which makes my internet complaint small. Internet comes to us much later when a Chilean friend says "No problem!" and means it and through her we get a usb internet plug-in that picks up the signal from cell towers. Cell signals are easy here while home phones are rare. Since January, I've wasted untold hours on the internet. I'm like a kid in a candy store.

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