Last night, I had a dream I went mountain climbing with two guides who left me stranded on a ledge. They had told me that they were coming back for me, but started having a picnic and forgot about me. I was terrified, because the ledge was really skinny and I had no rope attached to me (think Tom Cruise at the beginning of Mission Impossible 2--or was it 3?). I wanted to shout for help but couldn't because, according to the logic of my dream, shouting would make me fall. If I inhaled too deeply, I would plummet.
Fortunately, in the real world, the sun was coming up. The light woke me up just long enough for me to realize that I wasn't really clinging to the edge of a cliff. Instead of remaining peacefully awake, though, I somehow convinced myself that I had to go back to sleep and make it down the mountain. That it would help me grow as a person or some other ridiculous thing that would make sense to a half-asleep person. So, I rolled back over and embarked on my imaginary quest for self-improvement.
The quest was pretty stop-and-go due to the fact that a lot of light comes through my bedroom window in the morning. However, I remained steadfast, convinced that I would make it down the mountain if I just tried hard enough. The guides eventually remembered me and climbed up barehanded to hand me a rope. It was at that moment, alas, when the rising sun won out and I woke up for good. In some alternate dream universe, I'm still balanced precariously on the edge of an abyss.
Wading through the real world today, I've tried to come up with an explanation for my nightmare and, more importantly, the fact that I felt compelled to go back to it after finding an escape. The whole situation was reminiscent of my 2004 trip to the southern Chilean city of Pucón, where my friends and I climbed a volcano during a wind storm and our guides periodically disappeared. When I think about it, though, I suspect the dream had more to do with a future event than a past one.
On Sunday, I'm traveling a few hours north of Santiago to the tiny town of Canela, where I'll be volunteering for two weeks with a group from the University of Chile. This year's projects include everything from a free dental clinic to a kids' soccer camp to something involving solar panels. My friend Marisa and I plan to put together and broadcast a community radio program on which we'll discuss health issues, news, musical artists and local events. This has much more to do with barehanded rock climbing than it may seem. Ask any cheesy dream interpreter.
The truth is that I'm nervous about Trabajos Voluntarios for a number of reasons. Aside from people I've met briefly at organizational meetings, I know a grand total of ONE of the 150 other participants. It'll be like summer camp all over again, only hotter.
I'm also nervous about putting on the radio show, which I've never done before. Whenever my friends at Santiago Radio have asked me to pop in and say a few words (once I had to pretend to be a heat wave), I've been really nervous--and their programs are in English! In Canela, I'll be speaking in Spanish to a community I'm unfamiliar with. Talk about stage fright...
I don't think it's going too far (although maybe getting a little corny) to say that going on this trip is like throwing myself out on a cliff ledge with no climbing gear. As nervous as I am, though, I know it will be a great opportunity to help out in one of the poorest communities in the country. Additionally, I'll have the chance to meet new people, practice Spanish, and see another part of Chile. Therefore, I'm going to try to overcome my anxiety and find my way down the mountain.
That means, of course, that this blog will be taking a short vacation. Take care, and check back in two weeks to read about Canela!