Saturday August 1, 2015
Getting through customs was less nerve-racking than I was anticipating. Perhaps I was in a heightened stake of awareness, constantly on my guard since I barely slept during my two flights across two continents nor did I sleep well the night before I departed. Perhaps it was the fact that I hadn’t talked to anyone in 12 hours–on the domestic flight, I sat in a window seat squished between the hull of the plane and a dude who was man spreading all over the place, on the international flight, the guy next to me was from Japan and my Japanese is non-existent and his English was minimal –but when the customs agent asked me for my forms in Spanish, I responded with only the slightest of hesitations, as I continued walking through the airport.
I arrived to Santiago in shorts and a t-shirt–professionally casual–totally comfortable with my clothes in NY and Texas , but wholly unprepared for the cold that Santiago would unleash upon us. I stood out from the other TransVip customers /volunteers as I approached the counter, waiting to catch the shuttle to take us to the hotel that would be our home for a week.
Chase, Allie, Meghan, and Sierra were all dressed appropriately: pants, hats, jackets, boots, comfortable in their warmth, as I put on a brave face, already promising to myself to be a better, more extroverted version of myself, one who can roll with the cold in shorts. It was my first test and I passed with flying colors.
The rest of Saturday in short…
– We arrived at our hotel, ready to socialize or sleep of the impending jet lag. I was prepared to start making friends, immediately introducing myself to folks, and showcasing about my ability to remember names incredibly fast. I was ready to be the person to gather folks and ‘force’ them to introduce themselves, but dangit, SARA beat me to it! It was then that I felt an immediate kinship with her. I said “I like this girl’s style. She wins at life.”
– Despite being incredibly tired, I trekked to Santa Lucia Hill with a group of other volunteers, after happening upon a Bolivia Day celebration. It was a cold, grey day and the view was particularly clear, but it was breathtaking neverthesless. Being able to view Santiago from above as the Andes exhibit their majesty from afar was glorious. We are all microscopic pieces in the puzzle that is the universe.
– I managed to use my recently discovered fountain of adrenaline until the night. And then I crashed–hard–at a karaoke bar at 1am. (Closed eyes, drowsy stare, somethings never change no matter how much you do.) I managed to make it back to the hotel along with 3 other volunteers–Morgan, Areyonna, and Marcella–but not without making a fool of myself in the process. We all craved churros, churros with manjar, aka God’s gift to man, were purchased, churros were eaten on the street with impunitity. Impunitity leads to excess manjar on a piece of parchment paper and me stuffing that parchment paper in my mouth and being caught. No one is supposed to see my bad habits this soon in the relationship!
This is what happens when people are thrown together in circumstances such as these: you reveal more of yourself in a shorter amount of time, relationships tend to be more intense, faster, with the understanding that never running into these people is a high possibility, removing the vulnerability that may be present in your typical relationships; tis the emotionally transient nature of being a traveler. I do hope that my time here proves this to be wrong.