Leaving Argentina and my friend Aira and Olaf behind, I returned to Arica in northern Chile. Why would I do that? Because I had bagged another housesitting gig!!
You see, when I had been in Arica a few weeks before, on my way down to Santiago, I had mentioned to the owner of the hostel where I was staying that I needed a place to shack up for a while to finish working on my book. He connected me with a friend of his, an American who owns a house in Arica, who was looking for a housesitter because he had to return to the US for work. Seemed like a win-win situation to me!
The owner isn't returning until mid-December, so I'll be staying here for longer than I would've originally planned. In fact, that's the longest I'll have lived in the same place in almost 4 years! But who knows how long it will take to wrap up the book, and then I can think of worse places to relax and emotionally regroup.
The house itself was completely renovated less than a year ago, has all new mod cons, technological capabilities, etc. so it's comfortable. It might not have the fantastic location like the Costa Rica beach house, but then again it doesnt have any resident creepy critters either (or at least not so far!). I do actually have a view of the Pacific Ocean from my rooftop...if I look thru a real jumble of overhead wires and ignore the mess of junky whatnots that everyone stores on their rooftops. Plus I'm only a 4 minute walk from the nearest beach, so who can complain.
So far I'm enjoying Arica. It's not a huge city, but it has a decent amount of shops, banks, beaches, a nice pedestrian area in centro with restaurants and little handicraft booths, a great fruit/vegetable market very nearby to where I live, and even one cinema that shows a different film every week. So I can be happy living here for a while.
The only thing I hadn't expected was a roommate. That hadn't been part of the original deal. My roommate is the owner's housekeeper (and girlfriend I think). Her name is Esther, she's from northern Peru, mid-30's with 3 kids to support. She's working in Chile because jobs are available here and because wages in Chile are higher than Peru. At first I was pretty bent of out shape about having a roommate...after 3+ years of travel and staying mostly in shared accommodation, I was really looking forward to having a place of my own for a while. But then I adjusted my attitude, thinking maybe there are worse things than having an in-house housecleaner as part of the deal!
I spent the first week here cleaning and clutter-clearing. The place needed to be punched up a few notches to reach my standards of cleanliness, and I swear some men just don't get the meaning of kitchen cupboard organization!!
Now that the house is organized and I'm basically settled in Arica, I've been trying to get through a bad case of writers block that developed over the last month...not a good thing for a writer!! Judging from all the updates I just posted on my travel website, I'd say the words are starting to flow again! And now that the website is updated, I'll be getting back to the book-writing business.
I've had my fair share of ups and downs, heartache and challenges over the last few months, and I seriously hope I'm done with the bad news cycle now. I've learned that life can be difficult - sometimes more and sometimes less. But even the bad stuff can be part of a learning process if we let it. It can give us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and about our relationships with others. That's the lesson I'm working on right now, here in the City of Eternal Spring.
"Life is like a great big grinding wheel. Whether it wears you down or polishes you up depends on what you're made of." (Author Unknown)