[Written shortly after moving to Chile.]
Moving to a new country is not easy. All the things you take for granted just don’t happen as you expect. Life becomes a smattering of minor thrills and slogs of perseverance in a swamp of exhaustion.
As you can probably tell from this post, my brain flits all over the place trying to get every box ticked.
If I spoke Spanish with any fluency, I imagine it would be a slight bit easier
I can speak and read Spanish, but like a child, I’m missing much vocabulary and so all my sentences come with gaps that my brain has to fill. My brain churns and churns. When I read in English, my brain slows down and relaxes. In Spanish, reading is work.
I don’t worry about communication. The problem with half-speaking the language is just one of exhaustion. But I have enough to be able to communicate. My struggles are, for the most part, compensated by Chilean friendliness. The Officina de Extranjeros in Murcia could learn a lot from the PDI in La Serena. The latter know how to smile.
In this swamp of exhaustion one of the simple things you might take for granted is food
Here, eating is a challenge. Not because I have a problem consuming Chilean food or a specific diet, but because the supermarket is some distance away and I have no car. This means everything I want I need to carry, or I need to take a taxi.
I’m going to be moving again in a few weeks and so there’s no point doing some big shop. I’d have to work out how to transport everything all over again. As a result, my diet has been simplified and is going to involve eating of the same few ingredients that I have to hand over and over. It’s not inventive, but it keeps me alive.
Don’t let me begin on the absence of a decent sharp knife for cutting anything.
When I moved to Spain, I put off buying a wide variety of spices until a day where I was cooking for someone else and decided that they were necessary. Once I’d done so, I regretted having waited so long. So this time I’ve decided to buy spices now, at the beginning.
I also need to buy other essentials, like powder for the washing machine.
The Internet is a further challenge
My Latvian phone doesn’t appear to be happy with a Chilean SIM. My temporary apartment, provided by the university, doesn’t have WIFI unless you go and sit downstairs in the entrance hall with the guard. The website for looking for more permanent accommodation doesn’t like to be accessed from my English SIM as it doesn’t like my British IP address.
But amid all this, there are high moments
Like the daily sunsets that I watch from my balcony.
And although the language here is a challenge, it’s also a delight. Every Spanish conversation still gives me a thrill, because I find myself proud to have spoken at all. It doesn’t have to be much either, conversation with a chap in the waiting room of the police station or a few lines back and forth with a curious waitress who wonders where I’m from. It’s all precious in part because it is so difficult.
Then there was the moment I saw my first hummingbird, going from flower to flower, nowhere special, an overgrown bush at the side of the main road. I stood and stared in wonder.