we are slowly adjusting and learning more about this city. it’s a funny mix of first-world comforts; chains like starbucks, dunkin’ donuts, applebee’s combined with rampant petty theft, crowded buses and shanty towns. some restaurants and stores are located at malls, which are easier to access, cleaner and more familiar. there are nicer parts of the city, and other parts that are clearly the more “developing” part of developing nation. certain neighborhoods seem to be dedicated to a specific type of commerce; clothes along one street, auto parts along another. suburban flight also still seems to be a trend here, with urban areas made up largely of blue-collar neighborhoods, old buildings and foot traffic.
some minor victories include figuring out how to get hot water from the taps, trying to combat the endless amount of dust that accumulates overnight, the dryer fixing itself, learning what a gorro de baño is and realizing that the cashier is asking for a rewards card after scanning all our groceries. i’ve found the municipal recycling bins, and discovered that most of the trash bags here are biodegradable! very exciting if you’ve ever witnessed my steadfast efforts to recycle and compost.
something else i’ve noticed is that everyone is very courteous once they notice you have a child. on buses and the metro, people from young men to older women have gotten up and told me to sit down with emi. the other day, i was trying to cross the street at a busy intersection with a blind corner and lots of buses. two men basically held out their arms and formed a barrier for me to cross, laughing about our little “procession” (i think). my inner feminist kind of balks at these displays of chivalry, but i have to admit that it is a big help when struggling to juggle bags, child and stroller up and down stairs and through crowds.
the youth group is currently on the small side. this partly has to do with the unpredictability of the community. some kids are homeschooled, which means a limited network of kids. the kids are also slightly more spanish-speaking since the last guy running things was chilean; a lot of the kids are either half chilean or from places like russia. we hope that as we get to know more people and plugged into the city we’ll be able to grow the group. nate is connecting with local pastors, looking into volunteering as a way to network and generally loving the opportunities and challenges thus far.
there have been a handful of frustrating moments, but we also live in the marvelous age of the internet, so we’re able to look up things and do some research. being able to keep in touch with people through email and text makes things easier as well because it doesn’t feel like we’re that far away.