December was a month of goodbyes. I leave for Lima tomorrow for a few weeks of fun with my friends before heading to Chile to start my new position in mid-January. This time, I’m not exactly sure when I’ll be back to the United States, or whether I’ll return to Boston. As such, I made it my goal to be present and to be organized as I went about my preparations for my move abroad.
My first step was to leave my “day” job. I was blessed with an awesome group of students for my last month of teaching at one of Boston’s friendliest language institutes. Our lessons often evolved into conversations about life, relationships, personal growth, and being open to change. Over the years, I have had a lot of wonderful students and this group was no exception. They were incredibly supportive of my decision to move to Chile and extremely vocal about how much they would miss me!
While I continued tutoring for English with Kim during the rest of December, I decided to leave my “day” job a few weeks early to give myself time to handle all the tiny details that come up as I planned my international move, and to sell my car. Thankfully, it sold quickly and at the price I hoped for. Selling the car made me reminsce about driving it across the country and appreciate how reliable it had been over the years. That said, I feel a lot more free now!
After selling my car, my bike became my primary means of transportation, along with my own two feet! Even though early December was really cold, I biked around Cambridge and Somerville quite a bit. I also joined the Boston Bike Party for their last ride of 2014. The route took us to Christopher Columbus Park, where we had a brief dance party under these lovely Christmas lights!
It was nice to bike through various Boston neighborhoods, saying goodbye to this lovely city that has been my home on and off over the years. There is such a great bike community in Boston, and one of my few regrets of the past year is that I didn’t become more involved earlier. I’m hoping I can get a bike to transport me around the Elqui Valley; if I’m not able to bike enough to keep my legs strong, I better be hiking!
Eating and Drinking My Way Through the City
As my last month continued, I made an effort to savor the aspects of Cambridge and Somerville I like best: namely, food and drink! On a chilly December day, I wandered to Hi-Rise Bread Company on Mass Ave to have a pot of tea while reading TransAtlantic on my new Kindle. This is a popular spot between Harvard and Porter Squares, and I wanted to visit one last time.
I convinced my roommate and her boyfriend to have brunch with me at Johnny D’s, where there is live jazz music on Sundays. I was able to check another thing off my Boston bucket list and enjoy huevos rancheros, a dish I haven’t had since I left San Diego!
One morning, I found myself in Davis Square early in the morning and finally made it in to Diesel Cafe. I frequent its sister cafe, Cafe 976, in Union Square, but never went to Diesel, thinking it would be too crowded. Little did I know that the cafe is incredibly spacious and there are plenty of spots for people to meet, work, study, linger, and relax. I parked myself next to a window in the back and immersed myself in this awesome journaling exercise. Dedicating this time to myself helped me say goodbye to 2014 and gear up for all the adventures awaiting me in 2015.
Next up was my school’s holiday party at Seoul Restaurant, where I had a delicious vegetarian bibimbap. It’s highly unlikely I’ll be eating much Korean food for a while, and I appreciated the healthy, vegetable-rich meal. That same week, my new colleagues invited me for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in Harvard Square, where I enjoyed vegetarian pho, one of my favorite winter meals. I’m going to miss the variety of dining options when I’m back in South America!
After a long, busy week, I met a new friend for drinks at Backbar, a tiny bar serving craft cocktails in Union Square, Somerville. After a chilly bike ride, I needed to warm up with a hot toddy. I was excited to finally order a hot drink in an American bar; hot alcoholic drinks are super common in South America but harder to find on the menu in the US (but very common in my kitchen!). All of the bartenders were super nice and accommodating, recommending drinks to suit my taste for bourbon, scotch, and herbal infusions. We spent several hours savoring the atmosphere, cocktails, and conversation.
Ever since I visited City Girl Cafe in Inman Square in October, I have been raving about its amazing brunch and recreating this vegetable hash and eggs. After a fun night of salsa dancing and saying goodbye to my dancing buddies, I met yet another awesome friend for an early brunch. It’s best to show up right when they open at 10 because a line forms immediately afterwards! The fresh herbs, delicious bread, and perfectly cooked eggs made every bite worth savoring.
The last cafe I wanted to visit before leaving was 3 Little Figs in Somerville. My friends have raved about their delicious feta toasts, and I wasn’t disappointed by this egg and feta sandwich. I loved their generous mug of tea and sitting in the window looking out onto Highland Avenue, enjoying a couple of hours with another dear friend.
Boston Bucket List
As I kept checking things off my list of preparations for Chile, I wanted to make sure I also checked off a few more bucket list items. I really wanted to take the Art and Architecture Tour at the Boston Public Library and I convinced a friend to come along. This free tour is led by a charismatic, knowledgable guide who really helped us appreciate all the unique characteristics of one of my favorite public spaces, like the writers honored on the ceiling of the entryway. Emerson has been a favorite philosopher of mine since high school, so I couldn’t resist snapping this picture!
Usually when I visit the library, I move quickly from room to room, failing to really observe the amazing surroundings. It was nice to learn more about the lions that watch over the main stairway and find out all about the art on the walls.
This is definitely one of my favorite spaces in the library, a great place to read, draw, study, or write. The green lamps are so inviting; earlier in the year, I came here specifically to write in my journal.
This wood-paneled room is one of the most utilized and sought after event spaces in the library, because of its gorgeous art. The guide did a great job of summarizing the classic story told through these panels; you have to go and hear it for yourself!
(This tour also gave me a chance to try out taking pictures on my new Moto G. I’m pretty happy with how well it performs!)
Our guide took us to the top floor of the library, somewhere I would never have ventured on my own. There is a giant mural painted by John Singer Sargent which has so many interesting elements that you could spend hours pondering it. It was a treat to see these quiet spaces and learn about a few more places to enjoy solitude in the library.
Our last stop was the outdoor courtyard, one of the nicest places to sit outside in the summer. Though the wind was strong and the sky grey, we listened intently to another story about this lady bathing in the fountain.
After finishing the amazing tour, we walked down Newbury Street, stopping for lunch at Pavement Cafe, yet another cafe I’d been curious about. We stumbled across the most adorable little boutique on Newbury, The Fairy Shop. There were so many silver treasures I would have considered if I weren’t moving abroad, but thankfully I resisted an impulse buy.
Christian Science Plaza, Boston
Our next stop was the Christian Science Center to visit the Mapparium. Naturally, we walked through the Christian Science Plaza, one of the most scenic parts of Back Bay. The last time I was there, I was on my bike during the Halloween bike ride, and it was nice to enjoy a much quieter stroll through this time around.
I made sure to really look around and snapped a few shorts of the iconic buildings of Back Bay, Boston.
I also enjoyed the festive decorations on the church!
I’m not sure what I expected the Mapparium to be; I had heard it was a great experience to be inside the beautiful glass globe. Unfortunately, no pictures are allowed and the tour includes an outdated audiovisual presentation which still marks Chile as a non-democratic country! That said, I’m glad I finally experienced the Mapparium for myself!
As I waited for my bus to take me back to Cambridge over the Mass Ave Bridge, I noticed these amazing clouds over the city. While the surrounding buildings were not super photogenic, I snapped a few shots to remember the gorgeous, painterly clouds.
Christmas in New Hampshire
It wouldn’t be December without Christmas! As usual, I spent Christmas with my family in New Hampshire, where we enjoyed our traditional holiday decorations.
This year, Christmas was less about presents and more about being together. My mom commented several times that this was the best Christmas she could remember.
Of course, there was lots of food; we tried to make healthier meals but we ended up eating a lot of holiday treats, like these adorable festive chocolates.
I always love the sunsets as viewed from my parents’ house, and the surprise sunshine on Christmas Day led to another lovely one.
The skies also gave me another treat as my mother drove me back to Cambridge. I felt like it was a special way to say goodbye to Massachusetts and New Hampshire for the next year or so!
Wrapping Things Up
As I’ve mentioned, December all about preparing for my move to Chile and was an incredibly busy, productive month. I achieved my goal of reading 30 books in 2014, and may even squeeze in a 31st before the month is up! I really love reading on my Kindle and taking advantage of the great selection of digital books offered by the Cambridge Public Library. The Kindle is also helping me avoid bringing a ton of books to Chile!
I was completely surprised with how organized my move ended up being. I had just enough time over the past week to move out of Cambridge, store my stuff at my parents’ house, and finish packing the three backpacks (small, medium, and really large!) I’m taking to Chile. I had to make some tough decisions on what to bring and what to leave behind, but I’m much happier with my wardrobe variety and hobby options this time around.
Finally, I celebrated my imminent departure with my awesome friends, brother, and sister-in-law at Flatbread in Davis Square. I love Flatbread’s inspired cocktails with locally-sourced ingredients and their delicious pizza. The mushroom pizza is probably one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten. We didn’t manage to bowl, but I was happy to spend time with this awesome group of people, sending me off with love and encouragement.
Of course, we had to end the night at McCabe’s, my favorite neighborhood bar. I seriously couldn’t be happier with this end to my year and was touched by how many of my friends and family managed to show up for my goodbye festivities, even with the craziness of the holiday season.
Today, I’m running some final errands and enjoying my last few hours as a Cambridge resident. Tomorrow, I leave for Lima, where my friends will quickly whisk me off to the beach for New Year’s. 2014 has been awesome, but I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!