Human I love!
You may or may not have know from my last email, but it was pretty hard for me to leave the states this time around. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had made a home for myself. Dont get me wrong, I traveled to find home in other ways; humans are Home, adventure is Home, my self is Home. Yet, Salt Lake had allowed me to set roots and build community within a geographical boundary for the first time since I was 15. I was nervous to put my gypsy-girl ways back in practice, insecure about my Spanish abilities, and sincerely enjoying security and new relationships. Nevertheless, I packed my car, drove to California, packed my trusty old backpack and greeted Chile after 30 hours of sitting and waiting on planes and in airports.
Months before I departed, I contacted farms in Chile looking for ones with horses I could learn from and lovely mountains to explore. I found that suited my fancy and made arrangements to stay for about six of my total eight weeks. Illani, the farm owner, is an American who has been living between Chile, Europe and the US with her Chilean husband for the passed 40 years. Her farm lies at the base of rolling hills that over look the Catrica Valley and Villarrica Volcano. It truly is a magical valley; lush and green, I´m told it looks like southern France.
The farm was entirely more bustling and crowded than I expected. At one point, our lunch table sat 25 people. On average, there were five Chilano workers, eight volunteers (like me), family and friends. It was full and Illani´s attention was in short order. I struggled to find things to do and Illani´s quiet passivity meant I was given little direction. Seeing other people lay about and not contribute much made me feel even more that I wanted to add to Illani´s farm and help support the space she had created for so many to enjoy. After about a week, I had found jobs to keep me busy and came to recognize other tasks needing doing. It felt good to have a base and be able to contribute as well as take care of my own needs for time and space. It felt a bit like home.
After two weeks on the farm, I had ridden the horses a few times, sanded and painted the new bathroom, chopped wood for days, cooked, taught yoga, hiked the hill every day, and had a few blessed times of one on one conversation with Illani. I was happy as a clam is happy. One afternoon, after a long day in the sun, Illani said she had something she wanted to talk to me about so we walked into her rustic bedroom. She turned to face me, “Blake, I just dont feel we have a connection. I think it would be better if you left.”
Whoa. Hold the phone and shut the front door. What.
That was almost exactly what went through my mind. Then, WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO NOW?! Then, ouch, that´s not very nice to suddenly kick me out because you don´t like me. I felt like I had been punched. Illani didn´t like me. Working hard to keep it together, I asked why. She had no answer, said she had considered it and couldn´t figure it out but that she also needed the space as she wanted to rent the volunteers´ house to curb her growing debts. I left and walked to the volunteer house. Louisa was there, my partner in fun and work and conversation since she arrived. She is a French cowgirl. I love her.
I told her, through very sad and hurt tears, what had happened. That I didn´t understand it and didnt know what to do. I had no other plans and was honestly afraid to travel. I had been so home sick I had grown complacent and felt I had forgotten how to travel thought it was my life for years. I hadn´t felt strong enough to do it and this had done nothing to instill confidence in the world at large. We sat and talked, I said maybe I´d go home, I dunno. She was shocked, kept wondering how Illani could even say she knew me when she had so little time for us. It felt like high school, when I felt alienated from my friends and bullied in the special ways that girls bully. It hurt to not be liked. So, I walked up the hill for the twentieth time to be by myself.
News flash. Sometimes people don´t like me. Sometimes people I like don´t like me, or you, or your mom.
Crazy, I know. But, I guess I had forgotten it or hadn´t had that fact pull the rug out from under me so strongly. Watching the clouds move over the valley, I thought about what I needed and what I wanted. I wanted to transpose the same feelings I was loving in Salt Lake to a farm in Chile, I didn't want to push my comfort zone like I had for so many years. I wanted to feel secure. My needs were almost entirely opposite; I needed to recognize that feelings are context specific and I´m not in Chile for the same reasons I am in Salt Lake. I needed to remain strong and flexible and understand that I can make plans and then the world can change them.
News update. Its okay that people don't like me. I don't have to change or be afraid. Yes, I can be an insufferable beast. Yes, I can be many other things that you love. Its okay to not be everyone´s cup of tea.
I came down from the hill and felt better. Way better. I was still in shock and wanted to talk more with Illani, but I knew that Illani had done the best thing she could have done for my trip. She gave me a kick and got me moving again. I never got any explanation for Illani´s actions, but I know there are a myriad of good arguments for why I am an acquired taste. While I don´t have anything to prove with this trip, I definitely have more to see than one valley and one set of people. More to learn than horses, more to challenge me than one woman´s opinion of me.
In the end, its all okay. Haters gonna hate. She probably couldn´t stand how smart, and funny and pretty I am. This must be how Britney Spears feels.
As for the rest of my trip, I left the farm last week and went backpacking in an incredible forest with Louisa for 4 days. Now we are headed to another farm in Huelmo, on the ocean farther south. At some point, when the weather looks dry, I´ll head to climb huge granite walls in Cochamo Valley and then I don´t know.
I still miss home in a way, think of the someone that waits for me there, excited to return to play and adventure with people I love. Yet, I´m in Chile and that is really, really cool. Now, I´m all the more ready to give it my best side for the remaining weeks I have here. Thanks Illani.
So, what challenges you these days? What heals you or makes you laugh?