My awesome nerudian trip and my first time donating blood.
Tuesday, 11.22.2011 - 10:39 pm.

Argh, I am the worst, not updating when I should. My writing skills are lacking. No, not my writing skills, make it my discipline. There are always tons of things to write about I just don't do it. But let me make up to you, dear diary, by telling you what went on last week and this one so far.

I went to Santiago, to attend some fancy dinner by the agency that provides me with my precious scholarship. I took Sammy, then still my dog, to the vet on saturday, and I prepared to leave at 11:59 pm on monday; for the first time, Andrew did not take me to the bus station. We both agreed I could do it on my own by now.

So I took the almost midnight bus, slept relatively well and arrived in the city at 8 am on tuesday. I got lost in the dumbest way trying to find the hotel, but bear with me, this city is a monster. I wandered for about an hour and a half under the morning sun and carrying my bags. It was excruciating. I called Andrew to ask him for references and I finally found a cop, who pointed me in the opposite direction I'd been walking all along.

After cursing myself, I found the hotel and left my bags there. I spent the rest of the morning in a Starbucks, surfing the interwebz and reading. At noon, I met with a compatriot I met on Twitter, I always meet up with him when I go to the city.

We had lunch at a fancy place and then visited Pablo Neruda's home. Now, the real reason I was excited to go to Santiago was that I'd planned to go to Isla Negra and visit Pablo Neruda's house. But he has three houses, one of them in Santiago. So I covered that one with the compatriot. It was impressive. You'd think, "oh, a poet's house". No, no. This man was also a career diplomat, won a Nobel Prize, travelled the world and had friends from there. He was obsessed with ships and his houses were built to ressemble one. You have to see it for yourself to believe it, it's majestic.

We got out of the house just in time for me to drop by the agency, we had been summoned for a meeting which turned out to be just an occassion to update our information (something we could have done by e-mail). After that, a girl from Bolivia, also a scholarship holder, shared the elevator with me on the way down and we started to talk. She randomly invited me to go for coffee and randomly showed me new parts of the city. We hung out randomly and I expected to see her at the fancy dinner but I never saw her again. I'm telling you, it was a random encounter.

I made it just in time to go to the hotel and shower for the fancy dinner. I met my roommate, a girl from Peru. Very nice girl, she reminded of Yoko Ono in her manners. On the bus on our way to the dinner I met a compatriot, very nice girl. Actually, that evening I met a lot of people from 18 countries of Latin America. I'll spare you the details but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. Time kind of flew and I got a gift for being the most outstading student of my country (and there were 10 of us). It was, of course, a Pablo Neruda book.

The real treat was the next day. I was going to Isla Negra to see Neruda's other house. This was a big deal for me because I wasn't taking the traditional way of finding a guided tour, no. After breakfast at the hotel and going to the bus station with my roommate (who was going to take a bus to her region there), I found myself a bus to go on my own. The day before I had booked a visit at the house and I was praying I'd find a bus that took me there on time.

Lucky for me, there was a bus departing at 11:30 am. My tour was at 1 pm and the trip was exactly one hour and a half. But not quite. It turned out to be two hours long, and I also feared I'd missed my stop, even though I'd told the guy in the bus to let me know when we got to Isla Negra.

Anxiety aside, I was very happy. I was traveling on my own, spending $20 altogether when a guided tour would have cost me around $80. Everything was going well, I was listening to my music and...and then there was the ocean! Isla Negra, as you have to always clear up, is not an island, it's just the name of a place by the sea. So I was going to the beach! I congratulated myself for venturing on this trip.

The guy finally did shout that we had arrived there. I asked for directions and the house was like two blocks away. I got a little scared because of the solitude of the road but near the house I saw a bunch of american or european tourists. The house was packed with tours of this kind, really. I missed my 1 pm appointment but I found a slot at 3 pm.

While I waited, I did a little souvenir shopping, took pictures of the surroundings and had lunch. It was a very fulfilling time for me, having a grilled cheese sandwich looking out the window, into the ocean. This house was even more mind-blowing than the one in the city. And here there was his tomb, and his third and last wife's. It was unbelievable, the way the house was built, all the collections he had, all the some point I almost had tears in my eyes. It was beautiful, breath-taking.

I stood in the middle of nowhere to wait for a bus back to the city. I'd missed the previous one for half a minute but in the meantime I met a french woman, in her 50s I think, who was travelling through South America by herself. Very inspiring, and very nice lady. She reminded me of my mom.

The bus finally drove by and each of us sat in our numbered seats, so we didn't interact during the ride. Funny, it was the same bus that had dropped me off there hours ago. In one stop a lady sat next to me and handed me a candy, saying "we must make life sweet". It was very random and very nice. I enjoyed the ride back to the city, hoping I'd make it on time to catch my bus back home.

Because I'd left my bags at the hotel, I still had to pick them up. When we got to the bus station, I helped the french lady get some bus schedules for the next day and to find the metro station. I left her there while she bought a ticket, she insisted I did because she'd find her way around, but as I was on my way I felt guilty for leaving her. I could've helped her more, like a lot of people have helped me, and I didn't.

I didn't insist because I wasn't sure I'd make it on time. I had to leave the station, take the metro, go to the hotel, and ride the metro back to the station to catch my bus at 8:50 pm. It was exhausting but I did it. And the bus was a little late.

I couldn't sleep well on the bus but I was relieved. I'd accomplished everything I wanted and more on this trip. I had so many photos and memories. My general schedule was followed and more important, I was on my way home. At 5 am on thursday I arrived, and I took a cab home. Andrew was waiting for me and we fell asleep until he went to work, hours later.

That day, I went to pick up Sammy and I gave her away to her new owner, who seemed pretty ok. I'm praying Sammy, or however she is named now, has a good home for the rest of her life.

Two things: one, I got a short message from Nephew #3, saying he'd been kicked out of school. My school, the ESJ. It's a low blow because it's a great school and he could have avoided that if he'd been more discipline, but it's not the end of the world.

Two, I'm going home, my country-home, for the holidays! I'll spend christmas with my family! The university said it's ok, so the agency said it's ok (I still need formal clearance, though). Andrew helped me get my plane tickets and it's booked from December 18th to January 4th. This deserves an entry of its own, but overall I'm sad to be leaving Andrew (I'd also always leave Joseph to be with my family, hence "an entry of its own") but happy to go see my family.

Last but not least, I donated blood for the first time yesterday. The director of my master's program sent an e-mail informing that a student got a miscarriage and lost one of the twins she was expecting. I mentioned the e-mail to Andrew and he said "let's go this afternoon" right away. See why I love him?

Everything went well, but we made the mistake of going for pizza and then to the supermarket afterwards, since we were in the mall area. He was ok, but after my second slice I got up and threw up, my stomach was in knots. He asked if we should go but I said I was feeling much better after throwing up. And I was. We ordered a pizza to go, for lunch today, and headed to do some minor grocery shopping.

We were almost done with it when I felt like throwing up again. Worse, I started to feel like I was falling asleep, vanishing. It had never happened to me. Andrew made me let go of the cart, held my hand and rushed me to the restrooms. But I was tumbling, almost falling...I thought I was going to die. I really thought I was dying, I was losing consciousness.

Andrew let go of the pizza box and carried me. I felt such a relief in his arms and I got some of my energy back. He later said people must have thought I was drunk by the way I was walking, but seriously, I was barely there. He left the cart with the stuff we were to buy, he left the pizza (I insisted we got back, I was mostly sorry he'd paid for it) and just got me in a cab and brought me home.

I felt incredibly weak and yes, it was a huge mistake going about like that after donating blood. Andrew didn't feel anything, it was not his first time and his body is different than mine. I tend to think mine is a bit malnourished and weak (although Pilates is doing wonders). And even without those factors, it was my first time. And thank God Andrew is strong. I mean, he carried me. And he had donated blood, too.

I've felt weak today, but I'm getting better. Andrew has taken care of me making sure I eat and rest. I had to go administer questionnaires this morning, for the diabetes prject/my thesis, but I survived. Hopefully I'll be recovered by tomorrow.

Whew, long entry. But there, we have caught up.

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