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.