Finally have a moment to write a little more. I’ve been visiting Mejillones for a little over a week and SO QUICKLY it restole my heart!!! I really love it here and visiting is such a bittersweet experience. Lucky to be able to do it but it’s incredibly difficult too…
Being back in Mejillones is definitely a different experience now from what it was 3 months ago. Being the only visiting gringa this time around, it was another world to me. It’s not the same without the other 2 girls in Mejillones, and the crew nearby in Antofagasta, and another good friend moved to a different city. We really made a mark here I think… and I can’t imagine what it was like at first when we left. That’s why I always say it’s easier to be the one leaving than the one being left. The leaver has more experiences to distract, but the person who stays has to deal with the void more.
Mejillones is also the same in many ways, but I’m not sure if I can explain it. Just some of the ways that a town never changes. I stayed at the house of my friend Nacho with his family. I suppose I could have stayed with my host family too, but I figured I would be passing more time with my friends. The Fredes are an incredibly sweet family and I actually spent a lot more time with Nacho’s sister while he was at classes. It was nice.. I think before sometimes what we did centered around what the gringas were doing or wanted to do, but now I got to be surrounded by all Chileans, and tag along with what they wanted to do. Probably a strange way of looking at it, but I think it was another perspective. Still love being invited to asados on the beach, just hanging out at Nacho’s house, and conversations over tecito.
I also visited my family and the families of Erica and Amber and… I can’t explain it. So positive and welcoming. Buena ondas. I made a visit to the school where I taught and felt really happy there too – saw some of my students, visited the other profesors and staff… Everyone surprised to see me back in Mejillones. I think it’s generally assumed that as a volunteer, once you leave Mejillones you won’t be back.
In some ways, I felt bad only being back to visit… and guilty that I’ve had the privelege to travel so much. But I don’t see Mejillones as just another stop on a tour… it’s the place I miss and want to come back to when I’m away. While I was here, everyone was asking how long I’d be staying. Kids asked if I would be teaching more classes. Others even telling me about ways I could find a job so that I could stay. It would be so tempting. I really can’t explain it. I just feel very at home here. It’s such a tease to visit and I’m feeling really sad to leave again.. even though I still know I’ll be back before I leave South America.
I am torturing myself with short moments of happiness haha. As much as it can be difficult traveling alone, I realized it makes things much easier. Making my own decisions, my own timeline, and not having to say goodbye to people. Or when I do say goodbye, it was after only a few days. Right now in particular I have a bunch of big ones. Those in Mejillones, visiting my friend Octavio in Arica, meeting up with another friend Eoin in Peru… Exciting that I get to see and spend time with everyone, but it’s only harder to leave and be on my own again!
Overall I know its worth it… I am so fortunate to be able to be doing what I love right now. And I am really looking forward to seeing them all, just lots of emotions right now with leaving Mejillones again. Chile gets to you so fast… I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it when I finally leave for good. The other times I’ve left the country, I’ve always planned on coming back. In that way, I do feel like it is my second home. In the U.S., I moved about the country for school and co-ops but always knew I’d be able to go back home to Wisconsin. Chile is my Wisconsin. Mejillones is my Oconomowoc and Antofagasta is my Milwaukee. haha. Really though. Even with change since the last few months, the fact that I can still be so comfortable here, without the other gringos, it really shows how much I am in love with the place and the people.