the new normal [part 2]

In my last post, I talked about [de/re]sensitizing myself to clashes of cultures and injustice, and the importance –for me, that is– of staying conscious of that process. That post was inspired by a list I started making this semester of all the things that I now find mundane about my existence here. Have at it!

  • feeling the power of the ocean
  • re-falling in love with the mountains
  • car alarms that sound like an alien invasion
  • 10-15 minutes in line to buy anything in a pharmacy or grocery store… even just a tube of toothpaste, for goodness sakes, and forget going to an ATM or trying to buy food during the first week of the month during the evening. impossible.
  • people answering emails > 24 hours after you sent them one…. sometimes even weeks
  • bread for every meal… but it’s fresh! squishy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, never on the whole grain side
  • homeopathic remedies as the first line of defense … honey, lemon, oranges and ginger for colds. Propóleo –a honey extract– for sore throats. Parsley tea to boost kidney function during infections. Plenty of garlic.
  • people telling me that I got the cold in the first because I didn’t wear shoes in the house or went to bed with my hair wet
  • randomly seeing people I know walking down the street
  • the undying pleasure of a good wool sweater
  • feeling vaguely gross because of all the bread
  • comments about my height
  • people making jokes about my first name (“savannah” sounds like “sábana”, which means “sheet” in Spanish)
  • owning my gringa-hood by carrying around a water bottle and drinking non-caffeinated tea from a jam jar
  • being constantly vaguely confused about what is happening around me
  • having people be surprised that I am often vaguely confused
  • earplugs
  • fires
  • class cancelled 50 minutes after it was supposed to have started
  • arriving on time to class, and 20 minutes before the professor
  • student votes to push back test dates
  • stepping off of the bus while it’s still rolling and feeling really cool (never have fallen… knock on wood)
  • feeling a little guilty about not making my bed in the morning, but not really, because even when I do, my host mom just goes ahead and remakes it
  • fluctuating between happy, well-rested days when I’m like “yes! I can communicate fluently and marginally eloquently in Spanish! whooopie!” and tired depressing days when I’m like “are there no words in my mind to express this thought? where did my English disappear to? has the Spanish ever even been there? shoot, yet another dangling sentence I didn’t have the vocabulary to finish was left to flit in the breeze!”
  • kisses on the cheek… and only feeling awkward when I’m with north americans who don’t get it yet
  • cheap vegetables in the market
  • being secretly proud of myself when I realize I’m the only gringa in the room… and secretly relieved when I’m not and I understand everything everyone is saying
  • being (almost) the only person to consistently go to class
  • seeing the sunrise, thanks to 8 am classes, morning traffic noises and the coming of winter solstice
  • protests
  • the constant coinage pursuit for bus fares
  • stumbling upon contemporary street art as I walk around town, from a street fair of mini theaters, to the urban mountain biking championship, to weird modern dance with painting tape and dissonant electronic cello music
  • breaking social norms with footwear (not wearing shoes, wearing flip-flops, wearing men’s shoes because they don’t make women’s shoes in my size, minimalist running shoes, etc.)
  • feeling stupid/woefully under-read in philosophy classes
  • wanting dreadlocks but not having the guts to get them
  • so much tea
  • incredibly graphic chilean slang
  • actual wool yarn from actual sheep with some grass still mixed in
  • not losing my keys, which is actually pretty impressive seeing as for the first 18 years of my life, I never had a house key, because we never locked
  • not answering my cell phone… although I guess, what’s new?
  • having people annoyed when I say I don’t have WhatsApp (just look at the phone, people)
  • collecting stares as I walk to my drumming workshop with a djembe over my shoulder
  • being tired of u-shaped foam mattresses
  • wishing that the socks/honey/tomato/egg/squash street vendor I got used to seeing would go back to their usual place, because I want that stuff, and don’t want to pay twice as much and wait in a killer line at the supermarket
  • rationing my Celestial Seasonings tea
  • Skype marathons
  • knowing at least 50% of the time just how late to be to things (and then being super proud of myself when I hit it on the dot and only marginally perturbed when I’m way off)
  • being tired of bread
  • chatting pleasantly about nothings
  • meeting all these incredibly well-read people who don’t look anything at all like the clean-cut academic types I know back home (cray dreadlocks, mohawks, whispy ponytails, all of the above at once)
  • the smell of pot…. everywhere
  • the smell of urine…. everywhere
  • broken bottles…. everywhere
  • stray dogs…. everywhere
  • public bathrooms…. nowhere
  • sirens
  • car alarms
  • beeping honking whistling motor vehicles
  • almost burning myself in the morning brain fog when I have to light the water heater for my shower
  • a lack of pilot lights
  • pretty money (the color tells you the value…. revolutionary! they’re not all green!)
  • asking myself why I ate all that bread
  • daily showers, even during finals
  • photocopies of photocopies of photocopies, and no books to buy
  • cursing the ATM’s and their $7 withdrawal fees



2 Comments Add yours

  1. mos-health says:

    S, as always, I loved reading you two most recent posts, especially the list in part 2 with which I began this rainy Sunday in Rockford. So, I have a request: Please keep sharing your story when you get home. Your vibrant, fearless descriptions of life are consistently inspiring or challenging or funny or touching or quirky or some combination of these or something indescribable and never boring and often instructive and always worthwhile. And now I’d better get some coffee and get ready for the rainy drive to Beloit and meeting for worship. Today’s query is about what attachment blocks ones access to the Spirit. Hmm… Where will I start? I am far to well attached to so much! ¡La Paz! ¡Un abrazo! – mos


    1. Haha, I don’t think there’s any fear I’ll stop writing any time soon. A little too addicted, I think, at this point. Perhaps, a little too attached to my own perspective, too. That’s a good query. All the best!


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