Published: November 7th 2009November 7th 2009
The good thing about South American airlines was that there was free beer on the plane. However, they lost my luggage. I did get it back but only after 4 days of miscommunication and frustration. It is quite amazing how much Americans stick out down here. Aside from our non-olive skin color, we all look ready for an Everest expedition. On the plane we would sort of nod to each other and when going through customs several people asked a question starting with ¨Hey, you´re American right...¨ I ordered dos empanadas and as I was eating them (surely incorrectly) a little girl approched me and said ¨hello¨ then returned to her mother who told her what to ask next ¨where are you from?¨ when I replied she returned to her mom again and then came back with ¨whats your name?¨ Apparently she just found a target to practice her english.
So 52 hours after leaving Bangor I arrived at the farm in Osorno. The weather is nice, its spring here, 50 degrees in the morning and 70 midday. The winter means rain everyday and the summer rarely brings rain, so during this interim there is both sun and showers. The
average height here is 5 feet, Hans (the farm owner) lent me a sweater while I didnt have luggage and it was an XXL. Hans, at 6´4¨must seem an absolute giant to these people. Hans is a very wise man, you can tell that he thinks over what says before he says it and he knows a great deal about most things. Matias and Ildiko from Germany and Hungary, respectively are also wwoofing here. They are a couple both around 30, very nice, funny, and worldly - a ton of travel experience between them. Jeannette, who is taking a year off from Yale, arrived after me. I am jealous of the spanish she took at Yale and regretting my French! Hans´daughter and grandson are also in and out of the house. Ellen is studying tourism in Osorno and her son Sebastian is the funniest 3 year old I´ve ever seen even though I cant understand his Spanish/German mix of language.
Work includes milking the cows, moving the electric fences to fresh grass, spreading compost around the apple trees, making cheese, and pulling logs with a work horse. The 6 hours of work goes quickly and then we all hang
out at night. It´s nice to not have a tv, we´ll play games or read or usually just talk. 3 out of 5 meals consists of bread we make, three kinds of cheese we make, local honey, and vegetables. The other times are when Hans´maid Marianess? comes to cook and clean. Hans also employs a carpenter, a pruner, Don Carlos who milks and does maintenance, and Donia Fabiola who milks and works on the apple trees.
The strangest thing is being so far away from home yet hearing American music on the radio and American movies on the planes and buses. Here I am looking to get a sense of a different culture and I am having a hard time escaping my own! At least all of the birds are different. The most common is a large, ibis-like bird with a long orange neck, a curved beak, and a call that sounds like someone hit a metal pole with wooden bat. There is also a strange looking black and white beefier version of a crow, abundant falcons, and parrots - which I was surprised to see this far south. The eucalyptus tree (possibly a remnant of continental drift away
from Australia or maybe an introduced species) looks like it has been stripped of its bark.
I hope to explore Las Cascadas tomorrow. Next week I may go to another farm or do some hiking around Lago Todos los Santos.