As I celebrate my 25th birthday down here at the end of the world, I can´t help but think that a chain of events over a quarter century has been leading up to this experience. Perhaps it is the snow falling in June, or perhaps it is the Chilean wine, but it seems that on this birthday I have finally got it all right.
In any event, I kicked off my big 25 with hugs and kisses from all the teachers and students, and rounds of "Happy Birthday" in every class. My family threw me a big party and I discovered the Chilean birthday tradition: you get your face shoved in a cake. They got me good...the poor unsuspecting gringa! And then the snow began to fall, illuminated by the streetlights and blanketing the sidewalks, and it hasn´t stopped since! Welcome to winter in Patagonia!
In other news, I was informed that I need to change classrooms, so in the middle of the year I have to rip all my decorations and lettering off the wall and move across the hallway. Chileans really know how to make you feel special on your birthday but have no idea how to run a school! Or something like that. But the best you can do is just shut up and do what needs to be done, a good lesson learned in the English Opens Doors Program. The important thing is that I am starting to break through to the students, and they can now respond in English to "How are you?" A small but exciting achievement.
And so as the snow continues to fall I can say that I am one year older but infinitely wiser and stronger after only a couple of months at 49 degrees south... six months and a very long winter await.