The days of winter vacation are passing rapidly and marked mostly by weather: sun yesterday, rain today, temperature dropping or rising... some days the fire starts easily and other days not so much. I am working on my motivation to leave Coyhaique and explore, but in winter the idea of riding a bus six hours to sleep in an unheated cabana is slightly unappealing. In any event, my recent surplus of free time has allowed me to reflect on life: here, elsewhere, and anywhere.
In a little more than three months I have ceased to think twice about powdered milk and coffee, having to relight a pilot halfway through the shower, and sometimes sleeping in a mummy bag under my blankets. I have perfected my "ciao," switched my cellphone language to Spanish, and even incorporated the ever present "po" into my vocabulary. (Po is an abbreviated form of pues, and Chileans use it to emphasize everything, i.e. sipo, nopo, obviopo.) Adapting to existence in a foreign culture is an odd thing. I sometimes wonder if I will continue to put mayonnaise on rice and eat pizza with mustard and hot sauce when I return to the states. What will I do without a wood stove to warm up my socks and red wine? Will I never dance chamamé again?
But the most pressing realization about life at the bottom of the world is how little things really do change. I have my daily routine, I go to the gym, I hang out with friends, I have a boss I don´t like, I struggle the same struggles and think the same things. We can´t escape who we are or the essence of our existence no matter how much we try to change the details. And for me, this is a very important point. I believe in the power of a journey to profoundly change a person, but I don´t believe we can depend on exotic experiences to make us who we are. At the end of the day in Coyhaique, I lay in bed and listen to the rain falling outside my window. And if I close my eyes, I could almost be on 5 Sherry Lane, wondering what tomorrow will bring.