We arrived in Punta Arenas from Santiago, Chile, on the way to a five-day hike. When we arrived it was cold and drizzling. I inwardly cringed, but I knew I had to toughen up because the weather would only be more difficult in the trek. Hikers usually hike and camp through strong winds and rain in the park.
Punta Arenas is a port town–mostly a place to visit on the way to another place.
Last week I met with many of our wonderful friends–for lunch, coffee, a chick flick, and Thanksgiving dinner. Have I mentioned how fortunate I am to have met so many wonderful American and Argentine friends? The pictured dessert spread was the finale of our Thanksgiving night. A generous fellow invited a group of friends for a catered meal with all of the traditional plates–stuffing, sweet potatoes, bread, asparagus with almonds, buns, and cole slaw. The chef even made E. and I vegetarian cutlets with herb butter. By the time I finished my plate full of my old favorites, I could not think of eating dessert. I only had room for a small piece of chocolate cake.
Above you can see membrillo (quince) pie, apple pie, dried fruit bread, and olive oil bread. All this was topped with freshly brewed coffee and a mate passed around the table. I am thankful for all of my new and old friends and this opportunity to live abroad. And, always, I am thankful for our supportive families who I deeply miss.
Part of the reason I am compelled to see as many friends as possible this month is that we are leaving Buenos Aires to move to Santiago de Chile at the end of December. I will be Still Life in Santiago for at least a month. It is time to see a new place since telecommuting affords us some flexibility with living arrangements.
We’ll take a bus from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, and then bus from Mendoza to Santiago. I have heard that the view over the Andes will be spectacular. After a couple of days in Santiago, E. and I will fly to Punta Arenas in southern Chile–Patagonia. We’ll see penguin colonies and then trek in a several day hike called the “W” in Parque Torres del Paine. After a week down south, we’ll live and work in Santiago in a neighborhood called Bellas Artes.
Information and pictures on Torres del Paine:
In St. James Walkway in central New Zealand, E. and I had a trail all to ourselves in March 2005. We were ushering in the break of fall. The first morning of the trail when we clambered out of our camper van to start the four day hike, the frost and the searing cold air stole our breath. Both of us had the good fortune of enjoying the trail by ourselves, as many other trails in the South Island are over-tread hot spots teaming with tourists. I pulled out my gloves from my backpack and pulled my cap down.
I have neglected to start my own Web blog for years now, even through my and E’s travels through Antarctica and the South Pacific. It seemed complicated and distracting while backpacking; Internet time is precious on the road. Internet cafes charge exorbitant fees per minute.
Now that I’ll have time to spare in Argentina, it seems like the appropriate time to pick up my pen and remember the art of poetry and memoir writing. I plan to create small sketches–still lifes and dioramas–from my life in Buenos Aires. I leave for Argentina on February 25.
When we are sedentary, there is always a desire to be on the road. While on the road, the desire for the mundane routine of a professional life is palpable. I hope to have the best of both words this time, teaching English for online universities at night and, during the day, wandering the city past packs of feral cats and cobblestone lanes where tango heels have tread.
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” -Jack Kerouac, On the Road