From blog to reality

25 May 2006
5:00 PM

Elizabeth does laundry
On her vacation in Chile, I gave Elizabeth the rare opportunity to wash her clothes by hand. And some of mine too.

Avid readers know that last week I posted lengthy descriptions of the various jobs I do here in Chile. Sometimes words can only convey so much, so I’m lucky this week to be able to show my first visitor, Elizabeth, some of the realities of day-to-day life in person. After an airport pickup, I’ve been subjecting her to a week that only semi-resembles a vacation.

So far this week we’ve been following my typical work routine so she can see the things that go on here. Tuesday we visited the soup kitchen where I work. In the evening, we played with the girls at the group foster home. It was an exhausting experience, and I felt badly that one of the girls bit Elizabeth when we were leaving (she didn’t want us to leave). Wednesday we helped with English classes at Pascual Baburizza. All of the students who see me every week dropped me like a hot potato to talk with Elizabeth and ask her questions. It turns out that this gringo is old news already. This afternoon we visiting the nursing home and Elizabeth was able to confirm my suspicions that some of the elderly residents’ teeth really shouldn’t be doing the things they are doing (she just finished her first year of dental school, so she’s more qualified than I am to be horrified by the dental care some have received). I even gave her the opportunity to do some laundry by hand on our antique washboard—a real vacation treat if I’ve ever heard of one.

After this weekend we’ll have a chance to travel a little bit and see some more traditional sights. Until then, keep your fingers crossed that I don’t break my visitor. I probably won’t have many more if that happens.