To everyone, I’m writing to update you on my first 2 months in Chile, I can’t believe it’s been 2 months already, it’s gone really fast. Firtly, my village Chol-Chol is located in the 9th region in the South of Chile. It’s 10 hrs on bus from Santiago, and even further away from the San Jose mine where the miners were rescued from. Chol-Chol is set right in the Chilean countryside, and everyday I see farmers travelling through the village on horseback, horse-drawn and cow-drawn wagons. The air is really clean and fresh and as we’ve found out gossip spreads really fast between the locals. The village lacks some amenities like a post office, shops, cash machines but it has most other things.
The school itself seems really big, as 95% of the houses in Chol-Chol are one storey and the school is 2 storeys. Inside there is a well equipped pc suite funded by the government, but there are still signs of poverty within the school. It’s sports hall has holes in the floor, so all PE lessons take place on the gravel playground. Also, the teachers, students and parents are always selling things in the staffroom – food, ponchos, plants, cakes, and even livestock! I teach the UK equivalent of reception, yr 2 and yr 3 English for 45 minutes a week by myself. Their normal class teacher is in the room with me to help me make them be quiet, and I have total freedom of what I teach them. I’ve been doing body parts, weather and animals with them so far. Also I’m a classroom assistant for yrs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
I’m living in the boarding house with around 36 girls. They stay at the school because many of the children come from houses living in the countryside where there are no schools. Some have to travel 1.5 hours to get home on Fridays. The girls have all been really friendly, and each of them love playing with my hair, as everyone here has long straight black hair and they haven’t seen curls like mine in person before. They braid it, comb it and stare at it too.
At weekends the girls all go home so me and Rachel get the boardng house to ourselves, we cook for ourselves and often try to get away from the village to see some of Chile. We’ve been to Temuco, the capital of the region many times to shop, also we went on a mini break to Lican Ray and Coñaripe. These are little villages on the side of lakes (like the Lake District in the UK). There were black sand beaches, we went on a rowing boat and had a little dip in the freezing water. Also, we went to Villarrica, and in a pizza restaurant we felt the ground shaking, in Villarrica there’s another lake alongside the volcano Villarrica which the day we went was snow-covered, with smoke coming out of the top. Also, about a month ago, we went snowboarding on Chile’s most active volcano Llaima.