To be honest, I was more than surprised myself. It was as if the moment we pulled out of the driveway, another “me” took over. Typically, I am extremely organized and rely heavily on lists, schedules, plans, budgets, etc. to navigate through life. I often have an underlying (or at times, overt) tenseness about the way things are going. But, on the road trip, I was more relaxed than I ever felt in my life. We had no schedule, no specific plans, and only a general idea of where we were going to go. To the “normal” me, this would be a recipe for disaster, but for some reason, I completely embraced it… so much, that my laid back attitude almost concerned Adam at times. “Are you ok?” he would ask me… “Really?” I felt like another person, or perhaps in some ways, like the person I wish I could be.
Since that trip, I have channeled that energy into all of my travel experiences. It is getting easier now to just “flip the switch” to “travel mode.” Both last year and this year, Chile has been the perfect place to practice this comfort and flexibility. I would say that here “plans” are “possibilities” and that in any given situation, it is most likely that things will not work out as planned. I would also say that for some strange reason, I really like it.
When I explained to the students prior to our trip that this is the way things are in Chile, I think they couldn’t really understand. But, also, those that knew me fairly well couldn’t understand how I could handle (let alone enjoy) this type of environment. Since we have been here, the students have come to understand this cultural difference and some of them, like me, have embraced it. Within just a few days of being here, many of them learned to shrug their shoulders when plans changed and just “go with the flow.” I know this has been harder for some than others, but they have all tried their best to adjust.
For example, this week the students were supposed to be in placements in Santiago schools to work with Chilean children. This is a major component of our program. However, many of the local schools are currently on strike. So, there was some major reshuffling and rescheduling of students… all at the last minute. But, not one student seemed upset or frustrated with this. I know they were disappointed to not get as much time in the schools as they had hoped, but they also realize this was a situation beyond our control and thus not something worth getting worked up about.
Below is an example of some paperwork with schedules, plans, lists, etc. You will notice there are a lot of cross-outs and question marks. But, in the end, everything worked out!
Speaking of returning home, it our last night here. Estamos muy triste! We do not want it to end! But, we will all be happy to see family and friends upon returning. So, it’s time for our farewell dinner now. Chao!