Overcoming Challenges- Lily Fontenot

Alzar School | 19.03.14

Walking down the dusty road in Choshuenco, I was completely unaware of the major change that was about to happen in my life. Our gringo bubble was searching around the small Chilean town looking for a woman named Iliana who said she would wash our filthy clothes. As we walked along the dirt roads, some people noticed the abundance of blackberry bushes and began eating them. Growing up a picky eater who’s diet consists mostly of plain noodles and fast food, I normally just ignored opportunities like this one to eat fresh and healthy fruit. However, one of my goals for my semester at Alzar School is to expand my diet and try new foods in order to become a healthier person. When Roz offered me the little round fruit, I was hesitant to try it at first. Once I put the mora in my mouth and tasted the delicious juice bubbles burst on my tongue, I was instantly happier. I could not stop eating them! I was proudly showing everyone my blackberry stained fingers and skipping joyfully the rest of the afternoon.

Our recent backpacking trip in the rainforest of Cochamó was a weekend full of challenges for me. It was only my second extended backpacking trip (the first being the winter orientation expedition) and there was the additional factor of the constant rain, so I was nervous to say the least. I was learning new ways to push myself including hiking for long periods of time and setting up tents to sleep in. However, the food stress that I used to encounter was not there anymore. The worry of if I would eat a good meal during the trip was absent because I knew that I would eat almost anything they gave me. The last night at the campground, we were all huddled around the small fire in the group shelter talking and laughing with each other and other climbers when I noticed something remarkable. In my hands was an empty bowl. I had just eaten two servings of vegetable soup without it even crossing my mind that I was eating new vegetables that I used to avoid, and it was delicious! In that moment, I noticed that all my other amazing obstacles distracted me from my usual task of picking through the meals and allowed me to enjoy the meal instead of worrying about it.

My time in Chile has done so much to better me in something as simple as eating healthier foods. Before the Alzar School, I was always too scared to try new foods. However, since being in Chile, I have tried so many foods for the first time including: apples, pears, green peppers, strawberries, and watermelon just to name a few. Do not be confused though, I still love eating the Chilean junk food like cheese empanadas, coco cookies, and ice cream too. Now, I am not simply limited to those foods. I plan on continuing trying new foods the rest of the semester and when I go back home to Alabama. This new improvement in my diet has already made a huge positive impact on my life, and I have my experiences in Chile to thank for that.