A couple weeks after the earthquake, my mom was concerned about me. Not because of the constant, terrifying aftershocks, or the tsunami warnings or the lack of food. No, she was concerned because she realized that all I really had in this country was Lauren. Of course, I had Daniela to lean on too. But she was busy helping her own family calm down, and working for World Vision. To be in a foreign land, all by yourself, after a major natural disaster is a really scary experience. Not having your family or friends to reassure you that everything's going to be ok. Of course I was skyping both my parents constantly, and all my worried friends were taking over my Facebook wall. But still. It's not the same as having them all here in person.
"You need to go make some friends, Aneya" My mom said to me one day, on the phone. "You and Lauren are too isolated, you'll drive each other crazy, soon enough. You should take a Spanish class, or find some Anglo hang outs. Something! Start going out again. You need this, you shouldn't be cooped up in the house all day, it's not good for you."
She was right. Lauren and I were, frankly, kind of scared to leave the house. What if debris and pieces of buildings fell on us, and killed us? What if there was another big aftershock, what if what if what if. But finally, we decided to venture out, and we never looked back.
I've been thinking about my mom's words now, months later. When you're traveling with a friend, it's easy to cling to them and only them, and not really want to branch out. But it's not healthy! It was then that we made a conscious decision to try harder.
On St.Patrick's Day we went to the quintessential Anglo hangout, California Bar, and where we met with more young, blonde, American girls than I'd ever seen. We chatted and laughed and drank beer. Lauren and I couldn't get over it. These girls? In Chile? They all had that, ditzy valley girl way of speaking, and most of them seemed extremely annoying. That's when we realized something: we didn't want to meet the same, boring girls we could meet in the US. We wanted to befriend Chileans! And that we did.
Since then, we've made many friends, some Chilean, some not. We don't see them all the time, and yes, it's still mostly just Lauren and I. But I realized something. Making friends is not that easy. It takes a certain amount of effort and you have to leave your pride at the door. When I met one special friend, he immediately introduced me to a whole network of people, and they all greeted me with open arms, even if my Spanish wasn't up to par. It was scary, but completely worth it in the end.