Greetings from the Valle de Elqui, Chile!

A photo posted by Kim Dodge (@blueskylimit) on

It has been exactly two months since the last time I wrote, and this time has flown by.  I finished my trip to Peru by traveling to a place that has long interested me (Sechín…and Tortugas), re-visiting the organization I volunteered with in Peru (and the kids!), and celebrating with my friends.  I undertook a two day, budget-oriented journey to Chile, spent a week in Santiago reconnecting with my friends and getting started with my work, and finally moved to the Valle de Elqui, where I will be living until December.

One month ago, I welcomed the 2015 cohort of WorldTeach Chile volunteers, and we spent three intense weeks in teacher training, interspersed with cultural excursions, Spanish classes, and other important sessions.  One week ago, we celebrated the end of orientation by touring two pisco distilleries in Pisco Elqui.  This past week, we have all begun classes and gotten a taste of what our lives will look like here.

(Click on the links to see related photos on Instagram – I now have a smartphone and it is much more efficient for me to post snapshots of my life there on a regular basis!)

Volunteers at the Pisco Mistral Distillery, Pisco Elqui, Chile
Celebrating with the Volunteers at Pisco Mistral Distillery, Pisco Elqui, Chile

The good news is that I seem to have made it through culture shock, the growing pains of my new role, and the intense scheduling required during orientation, and today is the first day I feel fully myself again.  Part of this is because I have been able to reconnect with my family and friends back home; the internet situation has been challenging, but after troubleshooting yesterday, I have been able to connect with a more consistent (though still slow) connection, enabling me to write emails, call my parents, upload some photos, and write this blog post!

Sunshine Flowers in the Valle de Elqui, Chile

Beautiful Flowers Outside My Apartment in the Valle de Elqui, Chile

It’s funny how much we struggle to let go of who we think we are and adapt to who we actually are right now. Before I left for South America, I was an avid biker with an online English tutoring business and two active blogs. Now, none of those identity markers apply; I am still able to practice yoga, but I spend most of my time reading by the river and enjoying local foods (like the delicious grapes, figs, and avocado which grow all around the region). I haven’t been able to post a new blog post in two months, and I had to give up all of my online students. That’s just how it goes.

Palta in the Valle de Elqui, Chile
Palta in the Garden Near My Home, Valle de Elqui, Chile

That means more down time. More peace and quiet. Trying to connect with the people I meet. Trying to connect with myself and figure out what I most deeply want from this experience. I wanted a life with fewer distractions, and I got it. Instead of resisting my new reality, I need to open to it. I’m determined to stay up with my blog one way or another and resume the tales of my travels, but I have to embrace what is happening around me right now. Here and now. Here’s to the journey!

Sun Drying Figs in the Valle de Elqui, Chile
Sun Drying Figs in the Valle de Elqui, Chile

(PS – My photostream on Flickr is pretty up-to-date, in case you want to check out my adventure while I get caught up with writing about it!)

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