November 17, 2017
I took a two-week vacation trip to the beach in Zapallar, Chile with my second host family in 2009. We were living in Rancagua, Chile at the time and it was their summer vacation. I, being the eldest, 15-years old, squeezed in between my host brother and host sister in the back seat of the car. Only because neither of them wanted the middle seat. Thus, beginning the hours long car ride up through the windy mountains, and some of the world's most dangerous roads.
The drive north of Santiago was nauseating, with so many small roads on the side of a cliff, and all the twist and turns. But finally we got there!
We arrived at a small town with old colorful beach houses right next to each other, sandy roads big enough for two cars to pass, and children playing in the streets. The air smelt like fish and salt water. My host siblings and I ran off so they could show me their favorite spot. We climbed up a steep sandy hill, barely making it to the stop, and we sat their, out of breath, starring at the beach and open sea as the sun set.
Every morning, I'd eat the usual freshly baked bread from the shops, with butter of course, or yogurt and cereal and some fruit. My host siblings and I would walk the few blocks into town for a few hours. The roads were dirt, the buildings and houses were older, everything was aged. Every day I would go into the store with all the computers and phone booths. They had a lot of these stores in Chile. The computers were those older large tan monitors from like 2004. I would log into my AOL messenger, my Facebook and myspace accounts to catch up with my friends for a few hours. My host siblings would be there as well, or next door at the arcade. We would spend hours just playing on the computers, or playing games. I mean, I was a 15-year old girl at the beach for two weeks away from all my friends. What else does a 15-year old girl care about?
A couple days being there, I remember it was getting harder and harder to eat. I couldn't swim in the ocean because the salt water would hurt my mouth too much. My gum in the back of my mouth was getting bigger and bigger, until it turned black and I could no longer fully close my mouth. I was in excruciating pain, and my host parents already said I had to wait to go to the dentist until we got back to Rancagua. I waited another day or two, before begging them to take me to the hospital. I couldn't eat anything, I physically couldn't chew, and my gum had turned black. I don't remember much else, the pain took over. I remember they did take me to a dentist, I think they had called him in on the weekend as an emergency. He numbed my gums using a needle. He then took tweezers and a knife, held the black bulging gums with the tweezers and just cut it out. Leaving a large, open wound in the back of my mouth. But I was grateful because I could close my mouth again.
I couldn't get my own antiseptics, it may had to have something to do with my international insurance and being too expensive. All he had was a huge bottle of his own antiseptics, so my host parents bought a Fanta from the machine on the front porch outside, drank it, and rinsed it out before filling it half way with his antiseptics. The liquid, that was supposed to keep my gapping hole in my mouth from getting infected, was in a used Fanta bottle. And I didn't mind at all. I was in such excruciating pain, and I was just so grateful that it was taken care of.
I'm not sure how it financially worked out. I don't remember why I have zero pictures from this trip. And I barely remember it, probably because I had a fever and wanted to die most of the trip.
I do remember the computer store. I remember playing UNO on the beach with my host siblings and learning the phrase "te toca". I remember climbing the steep hill, I remember the neighbor boy asking me out on a date and my host mom made me feel super embarrassed about it, I remember that we took a day trip to Maitencillo, I remember the trip to the dentist, I remember the bread and butter cause it was my favorite, and I remember sitting down on the sidewalk talking to my host mom about how they had suddenly lost their son here when he was a baby. This trip was one of the few good memories I have of my second host family.
No matter how painful a vacation is, it's a memory, and I cherish all my memories.