Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Aaaah...the order and predictability of the American way of life. My innate need for order and timeliness fit hand-in-hand with the American way of life. I love the efficiency and precision of everything from traffic to grocery store lines that run like well-oiled machines. I love the way traffic comes to a stand-still when an ambulance is coming through. I love not always having to look over my shoulder in fear of robbery or being bamboozled. The directness of American communication, clean sidewalks, the wide and well-maintained streets, having a front yard in a quiet and safe neighborhood, the lack of potholes, excellent public schools, and the list goes on and on. At heart, I am oh so very American.
And yet a part of me mourned a bit for the Latin way of life. Having walked almost everywhere for the past two weeks, a sense of isolation swept over me as I hopped in my minivan to drive to the grocery store the day after I got back. The level of isolation seemed unnatural. In Latin America, people are everywhere and interaction with others is almost constant with loud, festive music blaring in the background.
I eagerly bought a large bag of tomatoes in hopes of making one of my tía Marta's delicious tomato salads only to face the disappointment of biting into a starchy, bland tomato (the kind that you can't help but wrinkle your nose as you chew and try to swallow down).
The transition from from a way of life that is lackadaisical to one that is ruled by the clock was in some ways welcome and in others not so much. Chileans often take time out of their days to stroll in the town plaza as they enjoy an ice cream cone. At times they come to simply sit and people-watch while they sort this or that out in their minds. And then there's the siesta, the time between 1 and 4pm when virtually the entire town shuts down for a lunch break and a nap... charming in it's own way but the bane of my Chilean visit. Gaaaaah! Just two hours after things come to life in the morning, they shut down again and unless you have planned carefully, you are left housebound until things once again resurrect.
But what I miss the very most is the warmth of the Latin people. When we went to church on Sunday, there were few faces that I recognized. Many of the people that lived there when we did have either passed away or moved on in life. Yet soon after the first meeting was over, a large group of people, most of whom I didn't recognize, came over to greet us with hugs and kisses. The friendliness of the musicians on the corner of the grocery store parking lot who had obviously smoked one too many (and thought I was Jimmy's mother...psssh), the quick jokes from the store clerks, the way people came from across the street to comment on and tickle my baby- all of those are things that I sorely miss.
In the past few years I've learned that not all yearnings are meant to be. Maybe it's part of the divine design of things for some of the things that your heart desires to always be just out of reach as we learn to love the life the Lord has given us. And for me, the life He has given me is a beautiful one.
Posted by Rita