Southern Chile – September 2015
It was supposed to be an amazing vacation. Two free days in Pucon, Chile’s adventure capital, followed by five days exploring Los Angeles (the Chilean city) and Temuco. All of this with Hobbes and my perfect girlfriend. Then life happened.
Without writing a book on the details, things weren’t ideal. We got a flat tire and couldn’t explore the area as hoped, had quite the adventure changing it and had to drive a long way on a donut spare, some of the promised discounts didn’t come through, and we were 30 minutes from the nearest town without a reliable car or nearby bus route. Nothing was within walking distance No one else spoke English- my Spanish is respectable, but is my third language and trying to take part in exclusively Spanish family conversations was nearly impossible- and all TV was in Spanish. And, call the waaaambulance, there was very poor phone reception and no internet. I spent the week feeling like I was alone in a crowded room. The small inconveniences of course didn’t make me forget that I won the lottery of being born into a stable, middle class family in the United States during the most prosperous period in earth’s history. I also knew that the extra vacation from my vacation of a “hipster fantasy life” (as described by a friend) was a blessing, but to call it a huge disappointment would be an understatement. I was considering heading back to Santiago early. First world problems, yes, but problems still.
On a ride into town with her father to buy groceries, we heard the news of an earthquake in coastal Chile. An 8.3 magnitude at its epicenter. 6.4 in Santiago. Over 7.0 in Valparaiso. Tsunamis were expected all over the coast and over 1,000,000 people were being evacuated. Dozens of aftershocks were to follow. Suddenly, everything had changed and I was quite alright with not being in Santiago.
I learned the next day that a close friend’s mother was again battling cancer, this time having brain surgery to remove a tumor. I was previously diagnosed with an “unexplained mass” in my brain, which may or may not be the cause of the seizure disorder I developed at 23, but I still live normally. Nothing but dumb luck separates her condition from mine.
I spent the next days nervous for the safety of my Chilean and Californian friends, then realized again how blessed I am. My friends in Chile were fine, there were no deadly tsunamis, and my friend’s mother’s brain surgery went well.
I think I’m done whining for the rest of eternity. Life is good.
For more information on my previous time in Pucon, read this.