In talking about the civil unrest, this fríend of a friend asked me what it would take for me to leave Chile. And it’s a good question. For a while I was seeing a gringo exodus, but it was mainly the same people that always leave, end of the contract, short-termers, people who were never happy here, or people with school-age kids who want a different kind of education/ or for their kid to sound like (and be) a native English speaker. Then to be honest, I stopped seeing the exodus in part because I put all of the gringo Facebook groups on ignore. I don’t need to buy any more stuff, and I also, quite frankly, could not stand some of the closed-minded commentary I was hearing, largely from people whose experience here has been so very different from mine.
A friend of a friend was visiting the other day, and we went out for coffee at one of my two main coffee haunts, where I like the brew and the atmosphere, there are shaded outside places to sit and a mellow vibe, also enough ice in the iced drinks. She (the friend of a friend) asked me about the civil unrest here in Chile and I told her I was glad she wasn’t here on a Friday, which is when things are usually most conflictive, and also that she was coming and going before March. Because we don’t know what’s going on in March, but it looks like it’s going to be huge. I plan to participate in the Women’s Day march on March 8th, as I did last year. Of course I will take precautions and make plans to be safe, and also offer further-away-dwelling friends that they can stay with me here at casa bearshapedsphere if that’s something that’s holding them back from going.
So why stay?
Because it’s home. It’s where I live, it’s where a large portion of my friends and chosen family and stuff all are, and where I know how to function as an adult, and I have a job (well, a bunch of jobs/freelancing). Because though there are cultural challenges, and the generalized lack of trust between people that don’t know each other super well is an ill that poisons many interactions, because I like it here. There is a lot of room for growth and change, and there are some really lovely traditions that persist in time. Also, I turn sixteen in Chile-years in April. Sixteen! I might even have to celebrate.
I mentioned in my last post that I’d moved “recently.” Recently is a funny word, because it is, as they say, relative. If you ate recently, that’s probably in the last few hours. If you were in a country recently, it might have been in the last year. I think moving recently depends on who you are, and how often you move. In truth, I moved at the end of April, which makes it ten months ago. But I was away for about three months of that, and things have been a bit crazy in workland and in winter everyone stays inside and my mother died and the estallido social and and.
So even though I’ve been living here for a while, I keep on opening my eyes to new things. Stores and things that are close, the names of new-to-me streets. Just this morning, I found out there’s a new-to-me feria less than a mile from my house. I popped over there after a morning meeting, and there was so much fresh and sweet and people being kind to each other and I accidentally didn’t mention having taking squash to a vendor (I got a ton of things and they tallied me at the end), so I went back to pay him and we introduced ourselves and hi Pablo if you’re reading this. It was just in a word, joyful.
I am not still in Chile because of the fresh produce. But it’s an important part, and the food here has always been an important part, and it is something I would not want to do without. Even if berry season is over, which is a true travesty.
And here’s what we bought. 1 USD is currently 818 Chilean pesos (CLP) which is crazy high, and not good for Chileans, and indicative of larger economic problems. It of course also affects the produce prices, as does the fact that this is in Providencia, where goods and services tend to be higher priced. But here’s the haul for a total of 11,100 CLP or $13.59 11,100
1 bunch scallions 500 CLP= $.61
1 bunch cilantro 500 CLP= $.61
1 bunch parsley 500 CLP= $.61
1 piece (chunk?) squash 1200 CLP= $1.47
1 head broccoli 1300 CLP=$1.59
1 head cauliflower 1000 CLP=$1.22
1 bunch beets 1200 CLP= $1.47
1 honeydew 1500 CLP= $1.83
4 peaches 1800 CLP=$2.20
1 head lettuce 600 CLP= $.73
1 bunch basil 1000 CLP= $1.22