Sunday, 15 April 2012

Eka Chakra, Catemu, Chile 14 Feb - 16 March, Argentina 17-25th March

And here it is, my last post. Eighteen months and eleven days - all done. And what a great way to finish - volunteering at the Eka Chakra farm in central Chile then 9 days visiting friends in Argentina. I cancelled the idea of going to Patagonia and extended my time at the far below as I liked it so much. This is the road leading up to the entrance.

And here is where the person in charge, Maharaj, welcomed me in very cordial fashion with a really genuine smile which set the tone for the next month. The figure you can see in the background is Krishna and the farm is run by an offshoot of the original 60s Hare Krishna ISKCON movement that attracted a lot of controversy in the States 20 years ago. However, all the people who had recommended I come to one of these places were more than proved right in their glowing praise. Vrinda is a break-off from ISKCON and seems to be a thoroughly healthy spiritual organisation.

Like many ashrams, the location was just idyllic. This was across the road where we went to an adjacent property to cut cane to start our construction job.

And here is Lacey working with the aforesaid cane.

Whilst not working we could eat at these lovely benches in the shade or just read and hang out. Work was from 10-2pm. Three meals a day and accomodation for 10USD a day.

The place was a truly exotic burst of Indian culture in the heart of Chile. This is a nice close up of the Shiva shrine. A little place where all could go for some personal time.

A bit further down the same path was the river. The Andes, my faithful companions for all of 2011, were still here to comfort me in 2012.

Here's Lacey, her compatriot, Jen (Canucks) and Jen who arrived shortly after. It's a tough life being a volunteer as you can see :)

There was a real family air to the farm and we were invited by one of the devotees to her parents' farm an hour away. 

Chris, from stateside, a great companion in the boys dorm for around 4 weeks. Good times :))

So Lacey and Jen left after 9 days or so and reinforcements came in the shape of Anita and Dani. And with the reinforcements we ramped up the work rate. Mixing up and applying adobe with aplomb!

Good times :) Miss y'all...

This was where we mixed up the adobe. Under the adobe is a circular hole in the ground where we added dirt, straw, sand and water, walking around in it to mix it up. Then we ended up changing the mixture and it was a lot harder work. Cutting up the straw, sieving the dirt and the sand...ugh... But it seemed to work better.

Every sunday there was a lovely atmosphere as the ashram threw open its gates for a free yoga class followed by a free feed for anyone who wanted to come. From left Giri, Parikshit and a devotee who visited for a day and gave the scripture talk. They also did music as you can see. We all played football too and you'll be happy to know I put at least one in the back of the net to hold up English pride!!

Great view of the temple.

The light in the evenings was spectacular...

I absolutely loved walking barefoot around here. The hut on the right was the home of nandi, the enormous bull and on the left is the organic garden where we made organic fertilisers called purín. Some of them smelled pretty bad, but they really were all totally natural.

Three or four times a week we had yoga. And if you were lying on your back, this what you saw. Magical...

This is our yoga clearing. I practised here on my own a few times. Incredible...

And our delightful teacher, Malini.

The community is lacto-vegetarian so no eggs but milk, yes...After three months of reluctantly eating meat in Pachachaca, it was a joy.

 We only had one cooking class, which was a shame, but Rani made it a good one. We cooked up some beautiful stuff, and, of course, ate it all. Rani looked after the volunteers most of the time and was a truly lovely person to have as a "boss".

The food was utterly amazing and extremely plentiful. It was a struggle not to overeat all the time. And their sweet stuff was to die for.

Veggie heaven.

Some of the ladies producing the gorgeous food which the devotees went out to sell in local communities. Went like hot cakes by the sounds of things.

And the accommodation was lovely too. This is the girls. As these are Jen and Dani's photos. My camera died in Bolivia, sadly.

So, I was extremely happy with my time in Eka Chakra and would like to thank all the community for being wonderful. Especial mention goes to Hector who was, quite simply, a star.

I had been very kindly offered hospitality in Córdoba, Argentina by Martín who I met in Guadalajara. He thought I meant March 2011, but it was March 2012!!! As my camera died and Martin didn't take any pics, I'll just put in a random of Nueva Córdoba, his barrio. Just down the road from here there was lots of cafés and the atmosphere was just great with loads of students around.

Martín looked after me very well, cooking vegetarian food (in Argentina!!!) and showing me around. Hard to believe he is only in his early 20s. We went to my first rugby match in a long while to watch his brother play at the wonderful facilities of the Córdoba Rugby Club.

And from there it was onto Buenos Aires, where I stayed with Flor, a friend I met in Medellín, Colombia. You woudn't believe she was only 20. Just like Martín, very warm and friendly and very independent and sophisticated. 

Didn't do much in BA as I was a bit ill, but I did cook lovely veggie food in Flor's kitchen. And I did make it out to the Plaza Italia and the Botanic Garden and a quick visit to the book market. Very relaxing.

And to top it all there was a huge street demonstration on my last night which I walked right through the middle of to the disapproving looks of many of the participators... Well I didn't realise, did I? But no photo, google is not obliging.

So that's it.


Hope you all enjoyed it,

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