Last night I enjoyed a very nice happy hour with the lovely gringas I’ve met in Santiago. It’s funny because we went to a place called “California” that serves, what I’m guessing, is their version of California-style food (burgers, burritos, etc). Further, our waiter spoke English because he was from Monterey, CA! Finally, the tables around us, or at least the one next to us, full of gringos speaking their perfect English.
In short, last night I was basically in the U.S… but also a five minute walk from my house.
I can’t tell you how good that feels every so often. The – “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came” – kind of feeling you get when hanging with peeps who GET what it’s like to live here but be from there.
Your friends back in the US don’t get it because well, they continue their lives in the comfort zone we all know as home. Trust me, there are many a times I want to run back to that comfort zone myself. Even the ones who have traveled and lived abroad (which in actuality are far fewer than you might think) don’t truly get it. Because what we’re doing here is MORE than just living abroad. We’re accepting families, customs, places and things as our own. Not just “hey, check me out, I’m living in another country!” In any capacity though, living in another country is a feat and of course those who have done it deserve a hats off. I think that’s probably the reason why those who do study abroad together in college become such close friends.
It’s a similar thing with the gringas here but a slightly more intense feeling of connectedness because we have relationships and marriages (for the most part) that we’re also living through with Chilean men. (And depending on the type of Chilean man you’re with, this can either be a slice of heaven or a deep, cultural shock to the system).
I might loosely “complain” that I’m having a hard time making Chilean women friends but I agree with a fellow gringa that stated to me last night that I’ve been here “all of a second.” Apparently she made her first Chilean friend three years into her life here so it would seem that I have time to get that going.
In the meantime, while I assimilate and wait for the right Chilean woman to come along (in a friendly kind of way!), I rather enjoy the gringa bubble that floats about in this grimy, smoggy city full of disgruntled Chileans with mullet cuts and questionable fashion sense (generalizing here, of course.)