hooray for new friends! I spent another day this week exploring Valparaiso solo; other than that, the last few days have been pretty social.
on Tuesday, I met up with several girls from the youth group I attended on my first night here. two Chilean girls host a weekly group with exchange students, or, generally, girls here from elsewhere; on Tuesday, there were six of us–myself, the two Chileans, two girls from Messiah College in Pennsylvania and one girl who just graduated from the University of Texas and is in Chile indefinitely, trying to find work. we went to a cafe in downtown Viña, drank coffee and juice and talked about our lives. it was so relaxing and great. I’ve begun to miss times sitting with housemates & friends over food, talking and laughing together; I’m so glad I’ve found something of that here already.
Wednesday and Thursday I went to the children’s home where I’ll be volunteering some during my time here. the second time, Collyn–the girl from Texas–came with me; we spent a few hours there playing and feeding the kids. the tías–the women who run the home–are all really wonderful; I’m excited to get to know them & the children better. after leaving the orphanage, Collyn & I met up with one of her friends here for empanadas. I’ve had an empanada almost every day this week–they’re ubiquitous, filling and usually cost less than two dollars. mmmmm.
yesterday, we attended a baby shower for one of Sarah’s friends at the church, and today Sarah and Diego hosted a birthday party for Diego’s siblings. both parties were totally intergenerational; old people, 20-somethings, teenagers and toddlers all mingled together. I’ve grown a little more confident speaking Spanish this week, and had a few lovely conversations yesterday and today.
this past week was one of testing the waters. now that I’ve kind of learned how things work around here–I have a working knowledge of the city; I’m confident taking buses and colectivos (group taxis); I’m accustomed to the pace of life–I’m excited to see what new things this week brings. I’m planning on visiting Santiago next weekend; I’m looking forward to exploring…and tracking down good coffee. that definitely numbers highly among the things I’ve begun missing about Philly (housemates, yall are up there too). my anxiety about speaking has definitely decreased, and I’m feeling more and more at home here. yes: I am one lucky girl.