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8.21.8 Hello from Santiago, Chile

Hello from Santiago, Chile where it is a cold 60°! Rather than travel directly to Buenos Aires, where we plan to live for the next 4 months, we chose to spend a week in Santiago, Chile with my cousin and her family. She and I spent time together growing up in Europe - she in Germany and I in Switzerland. I still vividly remember spending a week together in a winter ski camp in the Alps when I was about 8. Sam, my youngest, is 8 and I can’t imagine putting him on a plane alone and expecting him to land safely at a camp way up in the mountains!

Sleeping Masks on the Plane.JPG

In less than a week, we will arrive in Buenos Aires and will work on settling in. My children will start school, will need uniforms and I will prepare to learn about chronic disease management in Argentina, and to teach how we use chronic care. I have never “moved? to a different country as an adult before, only as a child. It is my turn now to create a household in a foreign land that feels like home but embraces the new. I certainly have renewed respect for our residents who have come from faraway places and manage the many complexities of life and work in the US.

When one thinks of Sabbatical, one thinks first of rest and then of time away – away from the usual routine and its restraints. So far, we have had little rest. I continue to feel post call after a nighttime flight with poor sleep, followed by a day of skiing in the Andes and then a full day sightseeing in the city.

Pita and Family Skiing.JPG

With regards to being away from the usual routine, it struck both my husband and I that it is much harder to separate today, in our global and fully wired world, than when we traveled 15 years ago. To stay connected then, our day revolved around finding the Herald Tribune in the Kiosks, finding the international phone center, hording airmail paper and stamps to send home a letter and figuring out which bank to use to exchange our traveler’s checks. Since we have arrived, we have read the NY Times online, Skyped with the grandparents, emailed family regularly, and are living off our credit card and the cash we get out of the many ATMs. It doesn’t feel like we are removed at all. I like it like that. I like being able to be away yet still be a part of our family and friend’s lives at home. On the other hand, it takes a conscious effort to cast away the routines we are accustomed to in order to experience a country as it truly is.

Chileans are both warm and friendly. My youngest Sam has had his hair fluffed many times, people are always smiling and eager to talk to us and answer our questions. We have been able to order dinner meals off the lunch menu and the man leading the outdoor chess reunions was willing to play with my middle son because none of the men there was interested in playing with a kid. In the afternoons, the parks and plazas are filled with people just hanging out. In the buses, the people talk to each other and to the bus driver, rather than sitting quietly minding their own business. On the other hand, we have been told not to wear jewelry, to carry our bags close to us and were the lucky recipients of a mad taxi ride through the crowded streets of Santiago at break neck speeds for twice the normal fee. I don’t know if there is an inverse relationship between the amount of law and order and the sense of a greater community; if there is I am not sure that increased order is worth the loss of community. It’s been a real joy observing and being a part of this culture.

Today we were witness to public health in action. It was the “Dia del Corazon? or “Day of the Heart? and there were tents in the plazas where people could get their cholesterol and blood pressure checked. There was quite a line of people waiting. I don’t know what the options were for those who tested high, but I assume they were directed to see a physician!

Heart fair in Santiago.JPG

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