Home is where the heart is โค

My dear friends and family,
First of all I just want to tell you that I love you and that I’m feeling very grateful for having you in my life ๐Ÿ˜ .. I hope you are doing well and that you feel happy with yourself. I can’t wait to see you again as yes, I can share it now, I’m coming back! I booked my flight back to Europe. Not directly to Amsterdam, but to Madrid as the difference of prices were just unbelievable. From there I fly 1 or 2 days later to Holland. 27th of June is the day that I enter the plane and cross the Atlantic ocean again. 2 days after my then 10 months travel anniversary ๐Ÿ˜„ Time flew by.. Never I felt I have been away for so long. 10 months sounds long, mostly for people who have a life with routine etc, but for me it never felt as such a long time being away from you all ๐Ÿ˜œ The experience of time is so much different when you travel. You forget the days and dates completely ๐Ÿ˜… But before I go into detail of what this journey has given me, which I will share in my last post of course, I will first share with you where I am now and what this place has given me and made me book my ticket back to The Netherlands ๐Ÿ˜‰
As you know the universe gave me a little push to go to Chile and do some voluntary work at a B&B runned by Roberto & Alejandra (Ale) ๐Ÿ˜Š ย I told you already how the process would work. I do some tasks for them and I get food & accommodation in return. As soon as I arrived there it felt like a little Paradise ๐Ÿ˜ It reminded me a bit of the paradise at the lake I was at, in the beginning of my journey in Colombia. Immediately I felt embraced into the lifestyle of Roberto & Ale. They got the land a while ago, then all dirt and emptyness. In 3 years they completely build everything as how it is now. Ale is an architect and she designed both their house and the complex where they have 4 rooms + a shared living room with a kitchen for the guests. Step by step they build further on their dream and this is just very inspiring for me. Where there is a will, there is a way โค My motto in life and they are a perfect example for that! Every plant, tree or anything else here they build/planted with their own hands. It’s pretty impressive! Roberto has always been working in the hospitality business and was a tour guide for 15 years in Chile. So he is a great host and has lots of experience. A perfect match those 2 ๐Ÿ˜‰ They don’t have children, but have 2 beautiful, loving dalmatiers who are like 2 kids to them. I love snuggling with these two beauties Bruno & Canela. They sometimes give me a wake up call, jump on my bed and giving me kisses. So far there have been a couple of moments that I was alone with the dogs in the house. They are adorable ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿถ Roberto & Ale live in the moment, like every day could be the last one. They love their life and live their dream. Alejandra still has some projects around as an architect. One evening she even took me with her to an opening of a new culture center in a poor neighborhood not far away from us. She designed the complex and it was absolutely beautiful! I could see her signature in the building, using a lot of natural elements like with their own house she designed.
In the beginning I was there, they had guests every day and my tasks were to clean the pool every day, irrigate the grass and flowers + taking care of their sheeps. Yes, they have 4 sheeps. Basically, I have to let them out of their cage, tight them on places where they can eat grass but not all the beautiful trees like lemons, peaches, guayavas, pears, oranges and many more. The guest love discovering all these delicious fruits and having them in their juices or on their plates during breakfast ๐Ÿ˜„ The sheeps are also for the guests, just for show kind of. They have 3 females and 1 male. Damn… they are not easy animals! Every single day I had to get them out and in their cage again, it was an adventure. They run away, the male tried to attack me, they are super stubborn and just super dom. During the day I have to check on them again and every time they completely tied themselves with the ropes they are connected too, around their legs, bushes, whatever. They are just pretty stupid and only want to eat all day ๐Ÿ˜… One morning I wanted to get them to a different place so they had some fresh grass, but I had to cross the place where all the guests were having their breakfast. It became a whole show with the sheeps and me ๐Ÿ™ˆ Them running away, me running after them, me falling down, etc etc ๐Ÿ˜‚ Pfff.. those sheeps really got me. I just wanted to do it right and make everybody happy, but yeah, they’re animals, not humans ๐Ÿ˜ Roberto told me, Nadine your life is way more precious than the ones of the sheeps so don’t run for them. The world is not ending when one of them escapes and runs the other way ๐Ÿ˜‰ He had a big point! Now, while I’m a month here already, I’m way calmer with the sheeps and they start to listen to me. But, really becoming friends with them.. that will take way longer, haha! Or will that ever be possible?! ๐Ÿ˜ Besides cleaning the pool, irrigating and taking care of the sheeps I also help in the house, keep the house clean and organized. Or I cook for them sometimes. Lunch here is the main meal of the day and every single day its absolutely delicious!! They cook with fresh products and have all different kind of herbs in their garden. Also the meat and chicken they make is so tender and tasty, I sometimes can’t stop eating! ๐Ÿ™Š I can already feel I put on some weight since I’m here ๐Ÿ˜ฎ They treat me so well with the food, little barbecues with guests, spectacular Chilean wines and Pisco!! Uff.. ๐Ÿ˜ it’s hard to say ‘no, thank you’.
On my first day off I took one of their mountainbikes and explored a bit my surrounding in the Elqui Valley. The landscape is pretty interesting as it’s still the desert of Chile so the mountains you see are bold and dry but the valley itself is green as there are lots of vineyards and farmers who grow fruits/vegetables. The Elqui Valley has lots of fresh and home made products, a lot of the import in Europe comes from here. Now its fall and the winter is almost starting, but really cold it won’t get here. They only have on average 5 days of rain so as you can imagine it’s super dry here. The first days were hot for me and I really needed to adjust to the climate. My skin is so dry and there are every where spikey trees, plants etc like cactussus. I already have hurt myself quite some times with them, autsj!! In my 2nd week here I had the priviledge to invite a traveling friend to come over, Linda from Germany ๐Ÿ˜ƒ We met in Quito and spend some great days together in Ecuador. She was in Chile as well and when she came to Elqui Terra (the name of the B&B) we visited some small villages in the Elqui Valley, went to a vineyard and had some quality time again to catch up on all our adventures. It was so nice to share this special place with her ๐Ÿ˜ Later she headed back to La Serena. This is the biggest city in the area, 1h from Vicuรฑa. It turned out that she stayed a couple of more days there, so for my next day off I made my way to the city to see her again. We did a day tour to some islands where you could spot pinquins and sea lions. Remember I did a same kind of tour in Peru? This was version 2.0 ๐Ÿ˜„ I saw way more pinquins this time and we were allowed to go on the island to walk around. I love those little animals ๐Ÿ˜ Wiggle wiggle, hihi ๐Ÿง
Roberto and I started a little project together as they shut down the B&B for the whole of May to do some reparations/new creations and get some time to rest. As winter is almost starting here, there are not a lot of tourists in the area. Roberto wants to create a nice patio of flat stones next to the pool. These stones you can buy, but why spending money if you live close to a river and can collect the stones yourself?! So that’s what we did, going to the river and searching for stones. There were lots of them in all kind of sizes. First we only started collecting and hiding them on places, but at one point we had to get the first load to the house. We took the car until a point where it was still able to get out as the road was pretty steep. With a wheel barrel and buckets we collected all the stones in the back of the car. I was crossing the river with 2 buckets of stones all the time. Pffff… what a workout! Roberto was amazed of me how much power and strenght I have ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’ช BRING IT ON!! Once we finally got the first load of stones in the car we had to drive up the steep path back to the house. The car got stuck a couple of times and it looked like we wouldn’t make it. I was pushing the car with all my strenght but we didn’t succeed. All the weight was in the back! But then Roberto came with an idea. “Nadine, go sit on the hood of the car!” What?! I thought. Will that help? But why not try, so there we went, me sitting/lying on the hood and Roberto driving. I yelled “left, left, right, straight!!” to make sure we didn’t get stuck again in the pits we already made before. You should have seen me there, it was hilarious ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Too bad I couldn’t make photos of this spectacle, haha. But… It worked!! We got out and were able to get all the stones to the house ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ Woooohooo! I couldn’t stop laughing of what we just did and I will always remember this adventure with Roberto. However, we weren’t finished yet as we needed way more stones. So we kept on searching for them during the days and luckily this time we found a neighbor who had an excavator! So much easier.. Roberto was visiting his family for a couple of days so I continued with searching for stones and later that week while Roberto was still gone, the man with the excavator came. This time Ale helped me and again it was an adventure. In 30 mins we collected all the stones with the machine and got them to the house. The machine went through the river and all the mud. What a release ๐Ÿ˜‰ We got a big bunch of stones now, but if it will be enough for the size of patio we have in mind we’re not sure yet. It started to rain pretty heavily the next days so we couldn’t collect stones anymore, the level of the river got too high..
This rain fall btw, was something pretty bad in the Elqui Valley. The area is not build for heavy rain. Houses are not as waterproof as we know in Holland. The storm felt for me like a typical Dutch fall storm, but here they cut off the power, water and the house was full of leaks! The whole valley shuts down basically and the river got super high. It was a bit scary, but luckily we were safe, stayed inside, warming us with the stove which worked on gas luckily so we could use it. In every room of the house, including the guest rooms there were leaks. A big mess of water you can imagine. In La Serena, the city, for example, lots of places were flooded. The views on the news which we saw once the electricity was back on, looked pretty scary. Luckily only 2 people died.. The next day after the rain it was a sunny day again and the mountains around us had snow peaks now ๐Ÿ˜ Perfect weather for reparing the damage the storm cost us. Thank god the damage wasn’t that much, mostly water on the floor because of the leaks. Another natural power you experience here a lot is little eartquakes or as how they call it here, temblor. They happen so frequently in Chile that you are sometimes even not aware of it. So far I’ve felt 4/5 of them I think. Mostly when I lie in my bed and suddenly I feel like I’m shaking a bit. You see the lamp moving as well and sometimes you hear a sound like a train is passing by. It’s a pretty interesting experience! The power of the temblors here varies a lot. Sometimes you see on the news where the earthquake had the most power and the damage it made is barely anything. Chile is build on earthquakes. Its like rain in Holland ๐Ÿ˜‰ haha. As you can imagine, every day is a new adventure here at Elqui Terra!! I absolutely love it ๐Ÿ˜ Oh and my view is only getting better here because of the rain and lower temperatures ๐Ÿ˜„โค
Besides all these adventures I also have a lot of time for myself to relax. The workdays start mostly between 9 and 10. Then I work a couple of hours until lunch time. After lunch we have a short siesta and then later in the afternoon I work a bit again. The evenings are free as well so because of all this I have a lot of time to myself. At the moment I even changed rooms as a family member came to visit, Erika, the aunt of Ale. She is staying in the guest room of the house now so that made me moving to one of the guestrooms of the B&B! I’m such a lucky girl.. ๐Ÿ˜Š I have my private room with bathroom and a super comfy double bed ๐Ÿ˜ I feel like a Princess here in my purple room ๐Ÿ’œ I love spending my free time here, chilling on my bed, watching series and calling with friends & family ๐Ÿ˜Š Besides that I also thought a lot about what’s next for me.. This place makes me feel so relaxed and I can be completely myself, exactly what I needed so I could really connect with my inner voice again ๐Ÿ˜Š That little voice said to me that it’s time to go back to The Netherlands. I don’t call it home as it doesn’t feel like going home. I don’t really have a home-home in NL anymore, my home is where my heart is โค I feel very at home here for example and have had this feeling on more places I’ve been too in my journey. I found out what it means for me to feel at home and this place gives it all to me. So, saying I’m coming home is not what coming back is for me. What I do feel is that I want to be with my family & friends again ๐Ÿ˜ I miss you guys.. I want to have real conversations with you again and hug you all! I want to meet my beautiful niece who is more than 6 months old now. I want to spend time with my dad who is also coming back to NL for a couple of weeks ๐Ÿ˜„ I just want to be close to you all again โค Yes, I can travel further and see more of this amazing continent, but my money is running out, so discovering the countries in the way I would like too is getting more difficult now. I will do this another time, I will come back, I’m sure of that! ๐Ÿ˜Š
So, I have another 2 weeks here and then I will make my way south, back into the mountains. Not as south as Patagonia as there its getting freezing cold, but in the Lakes District close to Puerto Montt. I really want to do a nice hike again before I’m back in the flattest country of the world ๐Ÿ˜… From there I go to the coast, visit Valparaiso and finish my journey in Santiago de Chile.. It feels a bit weird to know that on the 27th of June this journey is coming to an end, but I’m also looking forward to see the people I love again โค
This is it for now.. I hope you enjoyed my update of my Elqui Terra life and you were able to imagine me on top of the hood and running after the sheeps ๐Ÿ˜‚ haha!
More to come dear people! A big hug and kiss from Chile.. xxx ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜

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