After having finished my volunteering experience in Peru’, lasted four months, I moved with my backpack of just 8 kilos to South for the next 45 days. I wanted to get a better idea of South America by volunteering and working in associations and hostels.
I had already planned everything for the first part of my journey, the one in Chile: the flights tickets and the work (I would have worked in a hostel in Santiago de Chile). Everything was well planned when, few days before my departure, I got up early in the morning and watching the news on my phone, I discovered what was happening in Chile: There were social and political protests in all the cities and the army called by president (Pinera) arrived in the cities fighting against the protesters.
Due to what was happening I had few days to change my plan and my doubt was: “To go in Chile or to find another destination?” It’s worth risk my life for just few days there?”.
At the end I found another job in the north of Chile in the middle of the desert near the city of Antofagasta (near the Atacama desert), that I wrongly thought to be a more quite city than Santiago. I didn’t know yet that this city was the worst in Chile in terms of social and economic wellness: the economy there was based on the mines and so Antofagasta was composed by two cities, the first inhabited by the owners (really rich people from all over the world) and the other from the exploited people (who work in the mines and came from Peru’ and Bolivia trying to survive).
The 5th of November I managed to leave Peru’ with my expired Peruvian visa and after three flights I arrived to the Antofagasta airport where Pamela, the owner, and two workers brought me to the Ecorayen Parque, the place where I would have worked for two weeks. It was a recycling park made by Pamela with the aim of teaching to the new generations how to recycle thorough plays and lessons.
This park was unbelievable, for me it seemed to be in a cinematographic set of a fantasy film. First of all this place was in the middle of the desert, 20 km far from the city, and there were lots of construction made of plastic and wood.
I didn’t sleep in the hub of the park, where there were the reception and the kitchen, but in a domo, a kind of igloo made of wood, few minutes by walk from there. In my little house there were neither water nor energy, just few beds and windows.
The characteristic of the park was the sustainability: the energy was got through solar panels and the water thanks to three tanks above the hub roof that were refilled each month.
The park consisted in two hectares in the middle of the Chilean desert full of constructions and plays made of recycling stuff: from tires to wood axes, where children with their family could play and learn how to recycle.
There were five people working there: me, Pamela (the owner), two workers (Teddy and German) and another 65 years old Chilean volunteer (Bernardo).
I lived with Bernardo in the park while Pamela and the two workers lived in Antofagasta and each day they came from the city to work and take us some food.
The best moment of the day was the dinner when we were eating and Bernardo was telling me one of his unbelievable experiences. He was travelling since the beginning of the 90’s throughout all South America selling his piece of art or his work in exchange of food and accommodation.
During the day my work consisted in helping the workers to reorganize and clean the park that due to the sun and the wind, each week had to be repaired. I had to work six hours per day (five days a week).
The next step for me was to leave Antofagasta for the Atacama desert but the day before I would have taken my bus to San Pedro de Atacama that would have to leave from Antofagasta, all the city center and the road from and to the city were burnt and were built barricades by the protesters. Because of that I had been blocked in the park for another week with Bernardo waiting for Pamela who was blocked in her house in Antofagasta and also waiting for food to eat.
This situation was not so scary, because we were more than 20km from the city and in pretty calm place, but unbelievable: we could not do nothing but just wait. The problems were the lack of food in the park and the fact that I could not call my parents in Italy and told them that I was good and alive, because I couldn’t use internet due to the fact that my phone had been blocked when I entered in Chile, Bernardo’s phone didn’t work well because he hadn’t paid the phone bill since two weeks and we were too far from the city to have internet connection. (The internet we used came from Pamela’s phone connection). When after five days I managed to connect my phone I found so many massages from my family who was so scary that was going to call the Italian embassy in Santiago.
At the end after a week from the boost of the protests I managed to leave Antofagasta by airplane to Punta Arenas, the most northern city in American continent.
It had been an unbelievable experience lived in a magical place in the north of Chile. I had the opportunity to get to know and work with really good people who spend their time to help the world and are really happy with their work.