Thursday, 20 December 2012

The great escape

Six months on and Chile has begun to seem like somewhere which never really existed. Incredible how time can heal... Back in June I was manically preparing and counting the days until we returned to some semblance of a normal life... It was strange, saying goodbye and in fact hard for the children although they have the good fortune of being young enough to live in the present and dwell little on the past. We spent the summer months decompressing in the reassuring familiarity of the children's grandparents' comfortable house before setting up our new home and new life in the semi-rural setting we once aimed for before, swapping the majestic but untamed Andes for the humbler, infinitely cosier Chilterns... As the girls and I stood on the pavement outside our still strangely new-feeling home, the dust-covered container which had travelled overseas all the way from Santiago via Valparaiso and ending up at the port of Tilbury before journeying by road to our new abode, heavy with all our worldly goods, felt like an old friend and looked a little how I felt myself ie battered, tired but somehow resilient... It was a sight that will stay with me for a long time and definitely symbolised a moment in our lives.
That was four months ago. The girls have now all but finished their first term at their British state primary school and have literally loved every minute. Even I have taken the first tentative steps at a return to some worthwhile working activity and am full of the joys of making my contribution to the world outside my wonderful but limited existence as wife, mother, homemaker... Things feel right. Schools are such stimulating, modern and exciting places to be here. Healthcare is available and free for all, a concept which people take for granted sometimes, not realising that the rest of the world is far from where we are as regards well-developed civilisation and basic human rights. It is cold in December and the days are short, all adding to the authenticity of a proper Christmas this year. My friends and family are around and nearby as we are to them, no longer isolated by continents and hemispheres not to mention seasons and timezones. I wake up every morning absolutely delighted to be here, back where we belong...
What do I miss about Chile? The weather has to be in top position. Incredibly mild and short winters, long, warm summers and always comfortable conditions for sleeping and so forth... Plus the sun, its light and its warmth. Never having to use a tumbledrier nor even attempt to dry clothes indoors. The ubiquity and abundance of avocados. Wonderful Sauvignon Blanc at very reasonable prices. But things I can actually live without... if I like. Chile was an adventure in every sense of the word but also very hard work at times. As for the girls, they still recall their school/nursery, friends and teachers, but are swiftly forgetting it all too which is a shame. Every now and then one of them remembers something and we all laugh, a little incredulously at times, did that really happen and were we really there? Does that world really exist or was it an elaborate dream, just like Dorothy had in the Wizard of Oz? There's no place like home...

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