It’s been a while since our last article here…. We were trying to get the full Taltal experience, before telling you all about it.
So, after a 2 weeks “break” in Brazil we went back to Chile to volunteer for EFTG – an amazing NGO that aims to promote cultural exchange and teach English to the locals. To get to Taltal from Santiago you have 2 options: you can either fly to Antofagasta and then take a bus for more or less 3h or you have the cheaper option, take a bus from Santiago that will last about 17h…. Guess witch one we chose! The bus ride was quite nice, even if very tiring, it was full of amazing landscapes.
Before arriving in Taltal we had absolutely no idea what to expect but after an intense month there we can say it blew our minds. This experience brought us so much in many aspects. We came there with the main purpose of giving, and we did it, but we received so much in return… it was incredible! We met amazing people and got a full Chilean experience as we could interact with locals of all ages. If you want to get a real immersion in the Chilean culture and discover the impressive landscapes of Atacama desert (not only San Pedro), we totally recommend this workaway experience!!!
EFTG English school
Our volunteering consisted in helping EFTG NGO by giving some English classes to the locals. We were giving around 22 hours of class a week to students of all ages (kids from 5 to17 years old, housewives and workers) with different levels. We were giving classes at the Taltal library, except on Tuesdays when we were going to Paposo, a tiny fisherman village located 40km north. There we were giving classes at their rural school and OMG, it was amazing!! Actually we were the very first volunteers going to Paposo and we had the best time with those wonderful kids. We received so much love from them week after week that it broke our hearts when we left and we could hear some “teacher no se va”, “promete que vai se cuidar” or even “nunca vou a esquecer de ustedes”. We could never imagine that in our lives a 7 years old girl would ask us to promise to take care of ourselves… We will truly miss those kids that despite some complicate life conditions were so kind and generous. So much ro learn from…
More than just teaching English, the idea is also to exchange about other cultures. As a matter of fact, Taltal is a relatively small town (+/- 14.000 inhabitants) lost in the middle of the desert, the closest big city is Antofagasta – located some 200km north, which makes the cultural exchanges very limited. After a long international trip, Hector, the creator of the NGO who grew up in Taltal decided to come back to his home town and start the NGO to help people who can’t travel or afford private classes to learn a foreign language and meet people (volunteers) from all over the world. The NGO is clearly a win-win for the students and the teachers who get to experience each other lifestyles. For us, the cultural exchanges were not only limited at our time giving classes as we had many opportunities to hang out with our students in their farms or in spectacular beaches. Even if the city is quite calm and not a lot happens in general, we had a really intense experience as people there were making sure we discover as many things as possible… and we did it!
Something else you need to know about this beautiful NGO is that it is almost entirely financed by the locals by an anonymous crowd funding called “secret friends”. This show how attached is the population to the project and is a proof of social solidarity at a town level. For all those reasons it was truly an honor and an exceptional opportunity for us to be a small part of it.
Taltal and its wonders
If our experience was fully satisfying on the human aspect, it was not limited to that. First, we were accommodated in a very charming hostel in the center of Taltal called Paposo Inn. The hostel is owned by a close friend of Hector who provides free acomodation to the vounteers, and makes sure we have all the comfort we need. Chilean hospitality is a thing!! At first, we were the only volunteers, but after two weeks we were 3 and then 5. It was really nice to share what became our home with the other volunteers and get to know them. Although the hostel was very comfy, it doesn’t mean we didn’t leave it sometimes to discover the surroundings… Here are some pictures of what you can see there:
We can only be greatful for this experience, the people we met, the lives we touched and got touched by and the places we got to discover….. But everything has to come to an end, and it is time to go on our next adventures.
We will never forget you Taltal s2