March 15-25, 2011
We finished our trip in Chile, contemplating how fast time had gone by and how many amazing things we had seen in six months. Chile is incredibly developed compared to Bolivia; what really made me appreciate the difference between the infrastructure of Chile and the flims-frastructure of Bolivia was the realization in the bathroom on our first Chilean bus that I had missed the scent of chemical cleaning products.
In Chile we visited Bernardita, Shalynn’s sponsored child through Children International. We saw Pablo Neruda’s house and a few soccer games. We were anxious and ready to get home and to resume our normal lives again, to rest, and to share our wonderful stories and experiences. When we got back, however, all that people could hear us say is that we were robbed and then they’d interrupt to ask what happened to my face. My sister and brother-in-law picked us up from the airport. As we walked up to them at the luggage return, wearing our alpaca sweaters, the worn jeans that had been our daily pair for the journey, and me with a large hat and a large bandage on my face, Kyle turned to Shalynn and said, “Well its good we recognize you because he looks like a crazy man!”
As we visited family members to catch up and to show our photos and share our adventures, we encountered the normal apathy we were used to when coming back from a trip. No matter how long you leave for a trip, someone will ask you how it was, and you respond, “Great!” Then you have one sentence to sum it up before the topic changes to a TV show somebody recently watched. We were used to this from previous trips, but the only thing people would initiate or ask to hear about were the robbery and the infection. It seemed it was easier to give sympathy than excitement.
My family is not discreet, so I heard from everyone what everybody else thought about my infected state. One aunt asked me if it had any mental effects from the wound and asked why I had been acting weird. My aunt said my mom said I was goofier than usual, my mom said my aunt was worried about me… No matter if I smiled, laughed, winked or whatever, the only thing they saw about my face was this infection. In the end they were rightly concerned. I kept reassuring everybody that I would have it looked at again as soon as I got settled, and in the end I think their interest encouraged me to approach the infliction more seriously.