Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Saturday, July 12

Today was my last full day in Chile. I spent the entire morning packing. Throwing an entire life into a suitcase that cannot weight more that 23 kilos is not as easy as it might seem. Manuel had promised me a long time ago that he was going to take me up to the hills overlooking Rancagua, and he came into my room around 11 and invited me to go. I thought a last morning spent with my dad would be nice, so I agreed.
We drove up through the hills and past the little mining town next to the big copper mine, Codelco, where Eric works. We arrived pretty far into the hills to the place where the border patrol between Argentina and Chile begins, and then turned around.
We arrived a few hours later, and Lilian was waiting for us to go get lunch. We went to our favorite restaurant, the Mini Sheraton. The wait is always long, but today it was terrible, and we ended up waiting about an hour and a half for a table. We started eating lunch at 4 in the afternoon and it really couldn’t have come sooner because Lilian was really crabby from being so hungry. After lunch, they took me over to Sole’s house so I could say a quick goodbye to her. We hugged and she cried and told me that even though she had made fun of me about my accent and always told me that Chile was a much better country than the US, that she really did love me and was going to miss me. I already knew that, but it was really sweet to hear her say it. Then my parents dropped me off at the Jumbo. Jose met me there, and although I didn’t have very long, we walked around for a while catching up. We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and although we aren’t exactly best friends, Jose was an important part of my exchange and definitely someone worth saying goodbye to. We said goodbye, and I got into a collectivo to go home. As the collectivo was pulling out of the jumbo, Cata called me crying. I asked her where she was and she said she was at the Jumbo. I asked the driver for my money back, got out of the collectivo, and while running back toward the jumbo, told Cata to wait where she was. We sat outside the jumbo on a bench and she cried and told me her problems with Louis, and how Cristobal coming back hadn’t been how she had expected it, and how she didn’t know how she was going to deal with everything once I left, and I just hugged her and was happy to be able to be with her in this moment in a way that I would never be able to again once I left. After about a half hour, I really had to go home. I got in a collectivo and went back. I was planning on just having a quiet last night, when Sally called me. She said that Lilian had been supposed to take me over to the San Martin house blindfolded because they were planning a surprise goodbye Alex/welcome Cristobal party that night, but that Lilian had obviously not understood the plan, but that I should come over quickly and look surprised.
I went over and the whole family from Talca and Santiago was there. They were having an asado and Nancy had prepared a giant buffet of desserts. Vicente, Louis, Cristobal, and Sally were there. Also my cousins Pedro, Javi, Maria Jesus, and Nacho. I talked to and caught up with all the amazingly warm people who had grown to become my family in just one year, and us kids had fun together talking and joking around.
 Nancy commented to me how amazing it was that I was almost more a part of the family than Cristobal was, because he still felt different and unsure of where he fit in after a year abroad. Eric gave a speech about how happy he was to have his son back, but also how hard it was to see his daughters, Sally and I, go. I gave a speech thanking everyone for being my family and for giving me the best year of my life. Around 2:30, I asked Eric to drive me home because I had a big day in the morning. We all cried as I said goodbye to my family. I went to sleep for the last time in my comfortable bed in my house in Rancagua, Chile.

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