Returning to El Paredón was always a case of when, rather than if. Living vicariously through the different avenues of La Choza Chula social media could never last forever, so it was no surprise to myself when I made the abrupt decision to book some tickets back to El Paredón and resume my role as the Digital Media Manager.
Arriving back in the village, my feelings were layered with a small tinge of nervous anticipation. However all of that was pushed swiftly aside within moments, the normal friendly faces immediately greeting me as if it were any standard day. After a few conversations, (mainly people telling me how much paler and fatter I had got since they last saw me) I immediately felt settled, back in the place I had fallen in love with a year before.
That was not to say it was not different, the snippets of change clear to see. After being dropped off I walked towards La Choza Chula and immediately saw the stump of the village tree lain on its side, a far cry from the centre hub to the village it was when I was last here. Then it played a crucial role, mainly as the majority of fishing nets were made (and mended) from it, but also as much needed shade, a bus stop, weekly food and clothes markets as well as just general village life. To see it now toppled was disconcerting, especially when this was for the controversial new road, which is currently in construction. The road has the potential to bring both good and bad to El Paredón, and it will be interesting to see how it affects the village over the coming months.
One change linked to that is the fact a bus now runs daily to El Paredón, directly from the city. As a result it was easy to see more tourism in the town than was here before, more signs and places set up. Sandra’s restaurant for example had developed so much, a full table of people crowded round her food.
The next difference was upon arriving at La Choza Chula itself, an impressive shop and office now standing tall instead of the bedroom where I spent my first ever night here. La Choza Chula’s development that had been so fast paced in my time here before had obviously continued on at a rapid rate.
After a greeting conversation with everyone it quickly became apparent the wealth and range of different projects currently in motion. Manuela had no real time to chat, so busy working with Teacher2Teachers, an organization in the early stages of forming a four-year partnership to start training the teachers of El Paredón. Alex meanwhile was busy sorting his meeting with a group of local women over their new entrepreneurship ideas, whilst Carla was planning Garrett MacLean’s photo exhibition taking place two days later. I was quickly pulled into making a poster for the event before Carla and I skyped Julia for a Surf for Life related meeting, in preparation for the month of groups coming in April (Sign up here) It felt like I had never been away. When this was then followed by the customary feeble attempt at catching some waves the feeling was only cemented.
As the first few days have kicked on, the various things to do have mounted up, the La Choza Chula wheel of activity rolling fast. More videos, photos and the like will be coming, so as always stay linked via the Facebook, Vimeo and Instagram.