Location: Santiago, Chile
[33° 27′ 0″ S, 70° 40′ 0″ W]
Snow coming down on our casita in the Andes, a welcomed, if unusual occurrence. Makes for good, moody, moving away weather. We’ve been having send-offs, despedidas, fare-well dinners, goodbye parties. We’ve been feeling stuck, wrapped in emotions of excitement mixed with trepidation for what’s to come and nostalgia for what we’ll be leaving.
A few weeks ago blue skies, clear roads, and warm days made for an easy autumn. The leaves changing color in the low Chilean trees gave the taste of fall at home, if not the leaf piles, cider, and pumpkins of the midwest. Amazing that four years flowed by, almost like a sluice cutting through the rock.
Getting ready to leave our little house in the mountains. The process of packing started months ago, cataloguing all of our worldly belongings and starting to ship, sell, donate, and throw away stuff. It’s pretty incredible how much crap two frugal, minimalistic people with a tiny house can accumulate. It’s mostly gear. I blame it on the gear.
Come our despedidas. So fun and also so hard to say goodbye to our good friends. I think being abroad makes you closer to those around you. You’re all dealing with the same hardships and excitement, crests and troughs as your friends. Makes for close connections.
Despedidas involve a lot of wine generally, which we are happy to partake in. Trying to get our fair share in before heading off to rum territory again.
The boys have different styles of going away parties. When the snow rolled in, I went up with Jhan, Sergio, Oscar, and Casey to be the first on the mountain. Chairlifts bedamned! We brought skins and avalanche gear because of the copious fresh powder.
The flat light of the heavy snow made mountain and sky look the same dull shade of light gray. With a little swirl from wind and a touch of altitude it was enough to give us all a little sense of vertigo.
Two hours up to the top of Andes Express we hunkered down for a quick respite and a bite to eat before reaping the benefits of our climb. Quite a colorful crew. In this type of environment, all the bling is necessary to see each other through the heavy snow.
What goes up must come down (unless, of course, you go up at 11 km/s, then you escape Earth’s gravity). Since we skinned up at well below escape velocity, we obligingly came back down… through glorious powder.
Well, it was glorious for most of the time. Thigh-deep pow is great when you have the angle to drag you through it. Once the grade evened out, we found ourselves underpowered and friction dragging us to a halt even on slight downhills. It’s a little obnoxious poling downhill. But a good time was had by all.
Wrapped up the year with a week of reviewing for exams. A few of my nerdier classes felt compelled to bring in drinks and munchies to throw a party and thank the powers that be that their math profé was leaving them in peace. All foolin’ aside, I’ll miss my students. They’re an eclectic, curious, and talented group.
Pash loves to get all cute-sy with her little 8th graders as well.
Got to shake off the seriousness and nostalgia of leaving with the last concert by A Lo Gringo. After ten years, Marko, Peter Barnett, Rico, and Jorge were calling it a wrap due to some international moves. There was an incredible showing by friends, colleagues, parents, and even a few students who snuck in.
I was honored to be asked to perform with the band for their last gig. In stark contrast to my usual ballady style, we went with something completely different and hit ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys. We only ran through it twice earlier in the week, and it went off pretty well. Only one glitch. When Jorge asked me to sing it originally I said, “There’s no singing! Just screaming!”, to which he replied, “Yes!”, and laughed his contagious belly laugh.
Thank you to A Lo Gringo for all the fantastic music, fun, friendship, and ‘wena onda’ that they’ve brought in the last ten years!