by Janna Elwell, Greenheart Travel Volunteer in Chile
Words cannot describe how much things here in Malloco have changed since Maja and Silvia arrived. I thought that I was experiencing homesickness my first few days here, and while that may be true, I think a large part of it was merely loneliness. Now, with the other girls here, our house seems warmer and the days much easier– we share stories of the silly things the kids do, we attempt to cook together in our rustic kitchen (eggs and spaghetti, anyone?), and best of all we go out and explore Chilean culture together. They have both been here for so long they know all the best places to see and best foods to try; I really lucked out to get such experienced friends! They don´t talk at the same speed as Chileans so I can actually converse with them relatively well, and we are continually laughing about everything. I am incredibly grateful that they returned from Mendosa when they did, and I couldn’t ask for better company!
From talking with Maja and Silvia, they say that despite the adorable kids, the daily routine here at the hogar gets really monotonous at times. Because of this they said it´s really important to look for ways to change up the daily routine, and so far this week we´ve succeeded nearly every day in doing so!
Monday night we were invited to Tìa Vero´s house. Tìa Vero is sort of like a substitute tìa who fills in for other tìas when they need to leave the hogar for anything. When she´s not at her house in Peñaflor (the commune next to Malloco) she shares the volunteer house with Maja, Silvia and myself. Anyway, she had friends over for the evening and invited us to attend! We took a collectivo–sort of like a shared taxi–out to her neighborhood, which was considerably one of the poorest areas I’ve seen since arriving. When we entered the house we were greeted by a table entirely covered with food: every single type of cake, cookie and cracker imaginable.
The other volunteers told me that it´s difficult for the people in neighborhoods like her´s to put on such events, and I couldn’t help but smile at all of the effort Tía Vero had put into making this a nice evening. She had her nicest plates out, with piles of Cheetos and soda crackers on them, and had made a really delicious sweet bread from scratch for us. She had a few other friends and family members there, and we all just sat around the table eating and enjoying one another´s company late into the evening. At one point I heard some rustling in the kitchen area behind me, and when I turned to look I saw at least five cats up on the kitchen counter licking the dishes that were there…it was that moment when the plethora of food on the table became less appetizing haha, but it was such a funny thing to see. Anyway, we had a very enjoyable time with Tìa Vero and had to appreciate the thought and effort that went into making the evening so special for all of us.