05 November 2011


It's been about a week since I've returned to Montréal from Chile (with a little side-trip to Spain thrown in for good measure), and with a bit of both geographical as well as temporal distance, I can now look back on my time south of the equator.

Quite an experience it undoubtedly was. Culturally, linguistically, meteorologically and professionally, Chile was markedly different from what I had been used to, creating an interesting personal challenge. As time went by, I started to adapt to the new circumstances and learned to appreciate some of the Chilean ways - from the more fluid notion of time (sacrilege to the Swiss) to the importance of relationship over speediness (counterintuitive to the Canadians), it was rewarding to see that different means can lead to equally good ends.

With their warm, cordial attitude, my Chilean colleagues quickly became my friends as well - which was particularly important as during my five months in the country, I did not have the chance to reach out beyond my work mates. It was this the curse of the assignment: Long enough to feel a bit lost, but not long enough to build a proper social network as a cure.

As such, it was with mixed feelings that I left the country: Sad to leave new friends and further interesting destinations behind, but equally happy to return home. And during the past week, Québec got me with a vengeance. From colorful slang swearing about the poor roads the buses trundle on (corruption, you say??), ritual throwing up of hands at the first snowflakes, lavish selection of autumnal delecacies at the local marché, to hallway talk about the lackadaisical performance of the Habs - it all felt warmly familiar, and it put a smile on my face as I transitioned back into my Canadian routine.

So tonight, I will pair some fromage lait cru québécois with a nice bottle of Chilean carménère, smear manjar onto some biscuits, marvel at photos taken in the past five months, including the one now etched into my brand-new Canadian Permanent Resident card, and it will be...
le bonheur, ¿cachai?

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