Winds of Change

In many ways 2011 has been a strange year…some unexpected things happened and some plans didn´t materialise…mostly due to the fact that I had an accident, tore a knee ligament and had to have surgery. This was no small incident and still, four months later I am not totally 100% yet. I can walk fine, without any pain or discomfort, but many actions such as running or moving quickly from side to side are still not possible and I haven´t even thought about sports such as tennis yet. This is in a large part psychological…the doctor told me after the surgery that it would take longer for my mind to recover from the operation than my knee and I am only now realising how right he was. I am still very conscious of my knee (pretty much with every step) and nervous about sudden movements or putting too much pressure on it etc. So no thoughts of 5 day treks to Machu Picchu or Torres del Paine…that will have to wait for 2012.

Other frustrations this year have been on the work front…

Since finishing a project with Ernst & Young Chile in February, I have been hanging on for other projects to materialise with them. But, as seems to be fairly common in Chile, the next project (working with the largest vineyard in Chile and one of the biggest wine exporters in the world) kept being postponed and moved and still today, over 5 months later we are waiting. Well, I am waiting at least…And to be honest I am tired of waiting and tired of the “same old, same old” of EY.

Thankfully I have had loads of english classes to keep me busy and allow me to keep paying the rent. But to be honest this is not enough for me anymore…there are only so many times I can tell a Chilean person how important it is to pronounce the ´s´ or ´ed´ at the end of our verbs etc before I will drive myself crazy. I love my students and I enjoy the teaching…to a point…but I know that teaching is definitely not my passion.

So what now?

In the last few weeks things have started to look up for me on the work front with a very exciting opportunity to move out of the sustainability consulting environment and into an area of work which I never thought I would get involved in. In fact, in South Africa I vowed categorically that I would never do this type of work. Environmental Impact Assessments…a term many environmentalists cringe at…and which usually sends shivers down my spine. Many times in the past I have participated in public participation forums as parts of EIAs and every time I am on the opposing side of the project, trying to prevent some crazy housing development or mining project from destroying the amazingly beautiful area where I grew up in the African bushveld.

So if I hate the idea of EIAs so much, then why on earth am I going to do this work in a country where the language is still a challenge and where I have very little (basically zero) knowledge of environmental laws and regulations…

Well, there is nothing like a new and different challenge to make life interesting…

And the environmental studies I will be doing are not for large scale industrial projects, but rather for renewable energy projects. I am going to be working with Rodrigo’s company and a Spanish Investment Firm to develop firstly a 100MW solar project in the north of Chile (The Atacama Desert has the best radiation levels in the world) and then there are also other solar and wind projects in the pipeline. Really interesting I think!

I have lots to learn, not only about the technicalitites of a renewable energy project, but also the environmental processes in Chile, but I am looking forward to these challenges and new experiences.

The other new experience will be working with a boyfriend, which I have never done before. Heck, most guys I have ever dated have never had the faintest idea of what my work entails. So to have a boyfriend who understands this and then wants to work with me is a novelty. There are obviously pros and cons to mixing work and pleasure and to be honest I am a little nervous about it, but we will take it one day at a time. This job is only part time and thus I will still have time and flexibility to do other things which I think will help keep things balanced.

So here is to this new adventure and experience on which I am about to embark…no doubt I will have some interesting posts to write in the coming months on this subject…

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