Published: February 14th 2012February 13th 2012
It is two weeks into my south american adventure yep made it this far for any of you doubters out there.
The plan I had, like the best plans did not quite go to plan.
At least that is how it is with me. Just like getting easily lost and not being able to work out how to download photos to this blogg. Hence the lack of them at the at moment.
Arrived in Illapel from Santiago by bus with two fellow volunteers Ben and Katie where I met up with a further two volunteers James and Phil. We all stayed with a Chilean family on the outskirts of the city. Excellent hospitality, cats, lots of kittens and two rather lively children.
Up to the Chinchilla volunteer station in the desert the next day after shopping at the local market for supplies. Too be honest I had a wee bit of anxiety at that point as the longest volunteer James had given a rather grim outlook the previous evening of what to expect at the dessert station . Most of which turned out to be not half as bleak.
The landscape is fierce and a stunning
expanse of cacti , lots of wildlife you can spot and much you cannot. Chinchillas remained illusive but other rodents were visble mainly at dusk. Puma prints evident, insects a plenty some lethal. Hawks and other birds kept me greatly entertained. The stars at night ditto. The sun fierce and unforgiving to white scottish skin.
Basic facilities were an issue. It was evident that there had been no organised input or money and enough hands to make the project work in recent times.
One major issue being that the only very small water source was a reasonable distance probably 1/2 a km from the cabin. When working after gallant efforts from James and Katie was hampered by a very holey household hose exposed in the sun running through cacti and rocky terrain. Regardless of good efforts put in by us to fix this and get some organisation in camp it was a thankless task. We constructed a very basic shelter round the long drop toilet which previously was in the open air. The shower remains exposed also to to the elements and on a road. Water worked, water didn't work, water worked etc...
My decision to not
put too much energy into organising camp and collecting and planting of seeds was decided because unless a stream of very committed volunteers continued to come to the project all work would be undone.
And the biggest vital need is for water. A decent hose, a water tank and irrigation system would be a great start. Having been informed that the request for a water tank was turned down. I concluded it would be futile to stay.
Amazing company, thank you Ben for the live music and constant entertainment. A walk up in the mountains proved although quite gruelling because of the heat was well worth it. Watching others enjoy my cooking. Were the highlights.
After just over a week at the desert station, now travelling north in the company of Phil.
There are more photos below