In Cholila, I have gotten the opportunity to do a lot of the things that I love to do but never have enough free time to do at home:
Cooking. Oh, the delicious things that we cook here! Homemade bread with assorted seeds, mushroom and cheese risotto, butternut squash ravioli with sage (from the garden!) cream sauce, pizza, apple jelly and plum jam. My favorite part is that I can use red peppers, which my mom is allergic to, and garlic, which my dad is allergic to, as much as I like. I would estimate that I eat at least three cloves of garlic a day; our afternoon snack often consists of homemade bread with garlic, oregano, oil, and salt on top.
Knitting. Laura taught me to crochet a while ago. I like it a lot more than normal knitting, because you have much more control over what shapes you can create and you only have to carry one needle around (perfect for travel!). The afternoon that she taught me to crochet happened to be an afternoon when nobody felt like working, so I spent hours knitting my first hat ever: a triangular “elf hat” with yarn colored different tones of green and a pom-pom on top of the triangle! With all the bus rides I have ahead of me, I will be knitting elf hats as if it were my job, so let me know if you want one and have any color requests!
Running. I am still running every morning, a run that I like to call my “mini-Mt. Tam” run, because the distance and elevation is exactly half of that of the run to the top of Mt. Tam and back. Kimún (the dog) waits outside my tent each morning and starts jumping around and sprinting back and forth as soon as he sees me emerge to put on my running shoes. Tomorrow morning, I am going to time myself and see if I can break the previous volunteer record to the mirador!
Learning about plants. This past weekend, Laura and I went to a workshop in El Bolson on herbs and their uses in oils, creams, soaps, and infusions. We learned about the health benefits of different Patagonian plants, and then made arnica cream, rosemary-juniper shampoo, and tintura (I’m not sure what it’s called in English, but it’s an infusion of herbs in grain alcohol to take diluted in water) of Echinacea. On Monday here in Cholila, we went on a walk with some friends to collect medicinal plants here, and then to make a calendula cream with beeswax from Laura’s hives. I found spearmint as well as regular mint, which have made for some delicious afternoon teas!
Taking the kayaks out on the lake, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding (one of Dario’s cousins took me horseback riding a few weeks ago), carpentry… the list could go on. It’s nice to have a home here where I can fall into a routine and a daily schedule that includes so many of these things that I love to do. A common theme in this list of things – and a big part of what I have loved about my month and a half in Cholila – is learning to create so many homemade things, like jams, bread, hats, creams, oils, and furniture. About a week ago, the guests who were here tried my risotto and said I was ready for marriage (not knowing that I am eighteen, of course). Aah! I don’t know about that, but I am certainly much more ready to live alone and create things for myself.