these first couple months have been a period of letting go and adjusting to the new normal, as nate calls it. one stark difference has been the lack of community here. i keep forgetting that it takes a while when you move to a new place, but sometimes the social potential seems so bleak here. everyone is welcoming and happy to offer tips, we’ve had dinner with a handful of people which has been fun, but we haven’t really found anyone that we click with. a lot of the locals spend most weekends with extended family, having barbecues and escaping to their seaside condos on the weekends. someone once mentioned that there is also a lot of residual distrust from the pinochet era so that people tend to be more closed off.
the youth group is on the small side, which has its advantages in terms of logistics, but when i look at the obstacles to growing the group sometimes it seems discouraging. we aren’t part of the international school community, the kids in the youth group don’t have wide networks of friends, the dynamics of the group sometimes falls a little flat because the kids don’t go to school together or have a ton in common, there aren’t a lot of families that are really involved in the youth group, etc. for a youth group to thrive, i think there has to be an existing momentum, big personalities and something attractive, which makes it hard when the existing group is small and sometimes stilted. i think nate looks at a situation like this and rises to the challenge, while sometimes it feels like pulling teeth to me.
overall, apart from the challenges and ups and downs, we enjoy a lot of things about life in santiago. we love the temperate climate, the ability to spend time outdoors, the rogue sort of culture, the panoramic view of the mountains and proximity to the ocean, the cheap wine at the supermarket, the fresh baked bread, fresh ceviche, numerous parks and playgrounds, empanadas on street corners and abundance of steak and fatty cuts of pork. we even found homemade kimchi at the asian supermarket! we love the walkability of our neighborhood and proximity to the church and international school, living in an apartment and learning about a new culture. i’m still hesitant to form a definitive opinion about living here but most days, it’s been alright!