Hey guys! Well, my journey is finally at its end. I am currently at my parents’ house in Albuquerque after having been redirected here due to severe snowstorms in Denver. We are going to road trip it up there today with a borrowed car and will be home by nightfall. I can hear the cries of despair now…” oh no! Where have you been? What did we miss?” I know there have been a few gaps in my posts, but never fear! I will be filling those gaps in the coming weeks. I’m going to take a little artistic license and pick up near the end for now. I hope you don’t mind.
Marin and I spent the last month on a lemon farm just outside Santiago, Chile. We found out about it on this website workaway.info, which offers exchanges of work for meals and board. All you have to do is sign up (for a fee), search for a business in the area you want to stay in, send them a message and wait for their response. If you are accepted, it is a super cheap way to spend time in a different country and get to know folks from different cultures. This particular farm was full of Europeans and Americans, with a few Kiwis and Canadians thrown into the mix. For some, this configuration would seem a little disappointing. I mean, why go all the way to Chile, only to speak English the whole time? We were not bothered. In fact, our brains welcomed the break from Spanish, especially the Chileno dialect, which is pretty rough. (They don’t finish their words! Sometimes they don’t bother enunciating!) And it reminded me of my international boarding school days (UWC crew, you know what I’m talking about).
We got settled into our room, made our skills known to the head volunteers (painting for me, gardening for Marin) and got started on our new schedule. We would work for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, with 2 days and many hours free to do whatever we wanted. There were a number of jobs to choose from, including carpentry, gardening, irrigation and more. I started on carpentry, then moved to irrigation, lemon picking, clearing a field, and a little bathroom tiling, before settling into painting signs. Everyone took turns cooking lunch and dinner and the meals were consistently delicious, even if they were mostly vegetarian. We got meat about once a week, so I wasn’t in total withdrawal. The owner of the farm also had a tendency to rescue dogs, so there were about 10 on the property including a very pregnant female named Paloma. We were still there when the puppies were born. They were so cute!
It was almost a challenge figuring at what to do with our down time. By day 3, the internet was terrible, so I stopped writing blog posts. I got some drawings and paintings in, sometimes sketching what was around me, sometimes going through photos from the trip so that I could do more detailed drawings and paintings. I wasn’t always up for this level of productivity, though. There were so many interesting conversations going on around me, I couldn’t help but take part. I learned so much about politics, education, language, and many other topics from my fellow work awayers. They provided me with perspectives from their own countries and their own experiences, many of which I hadn’t even considered, many of which I found truly enlightening. I felt so much closer to these people than any one else on this whole trip because of all of the quality time we spent together. It was a priceless experience.
Check out the drawings from those 3 amazing weeks. I will be telling more specific stories in future posts.
It occurred tome that I am VERY behind on my posts. How far behind, you ask? I have been in Chile for over a month already! Here is a quick (VERY) recap:
We left Cusco and went to Arequipa, which is GORGEOUS. From there, it was South to Tacna and across the border to Arica. Two days later, we took an odd 24 hour bus ride down to La Serena (this is all in Chile now) , stayed for two nights and headed to Valparaiso. We crashed at the house of this dude we met through couchsurfing.com for a week or so before landing in a lemon farm just outside Curacavi where we have spent a week earning our keep.
I promise, I will elaborate on all of this in future posts. Internet connection has been spotty at best, so consistency has been a real challenge. Well, that and I am easily distracted. In any case, please enjoy the sketchbook entries below.
As I have made my way on this journey, I have started to take note of the things I truly need in life. This has changed since leaving because I literally can’t carry with me all of the comforts of home and have stripped my life down to the bare essentials. Here of some of the things I’ve written down.
1. A comfortable bed
There is nothing like sleeping in a different place every night to make you appreciate a comfortable bed, not simply in how soft or firm it is, but also its proximity to, say, a bar on karaoke night or the ocean breeze. When moving around, you begin to cherish a good night’s sleep, especially after the overnight busses which seem to have looked at La-Z-Boy technology and said “nah, I’ve got a better idea. Instead of tipping the whole seat back and raising the feet so that your weight is evenly distributed while you recline, let’s only tip the seat back 160° so that you spend the night sliding slowly downward and your weight finally settles in the delicate tail bone, right where you want it.” I have never appreciated my bed so much.
2. Good, healthy food
We have discovered that Peru is the land of meat and potatoes and Chile is the land of bread and cheese, at least as for as the restaurants are concerned. Ok, this is not entirely true, but it mostly is. When eating out, vegetables have been hard to come by, to the point that even my carnivorous nature is being put to the test. I have found that I am a bit less energetic than usual, something I attribute to my lack of green leafies in my diet. Now, we are taking the time to cook for ourselves and it has been glorious. I can’t wait to get back to our garden.
I am giving this its own category because until I was on a bus for 22 hours in a row, I never before appreciated the importance of having my own food to sustain me. This has something to do with not knowing when the next meal will be, what the next meal will be, and whether it will have the correct nutritional values. Bananas, nuts and raisins will trump cookies, bad tea and soda every time.
Thanks for reading. I have more thoughts to share, so check back in. And if you have any questions or suggestions for me, please feel free to contact me either in the comments below or shoot mean email.