Bebe el té lentamente, con reverencia, como si fuera el eje sobre el que gira la tierra, lentamente, de manera uniforme, sin correr hacia el futuro. Vive el momento actual. Sólo este momento es la vida.
Drink the tea slowly, with reverence, as if it were the axis on which the earth spins; slowly, in a uniform manner, without running towards the future. Live the moment now. Only this moment is life.
It is a sunny late-October day and my back is being scorched by the morning rays as I sit in the large window/ greenhouse, of our breakfast nook. Life has changed a great deal in the last few months; I am now a we; mi casa has become nuestra casa. I no longer sleep alone and dream about someone far away because that someone is here.
The time has gone by slow. Long, cold days of dark winter rain cloaked Bariloche in an icy blanket for weeks at a time until, to the great relief of every nearly depressed resident, our hot, brilliant star returned to its place in the blue bird sky. The ski season enjoyed some unexpected snowfalls but ended uneventfully and an unsure spring was welcomed with open arms. The flowers were very confused for a while as temperatures peaked and plummeted overnight, freezing and de-thawing the little blooms from one day to the next. But sure as the wind, spring has finally arrived. This is my favorite time of year in the Patagonia. Hot afternoons, cool shadows and cold nights. People flock to the beaches, noses and cheeks are kissed with sunburn, cherry blossoms have exploded from all corners of the city, little lupines are stretching their purple necks, baby cows dot the campos, the smell of asado fills the Sunday air, the days are long and stars and plentiful in the clear night sky.
|the line up|
Michael's experience in Argentina has obviously been completely different from my own. His opinions and interpretations of the people and culture are quite dissimilar from what I encountered when I first arrived; people seem to be generally more accepting of a pretty gringa girl, than a pretty gringo man. It has been interesting to observe the different dynamics and certainly gives me a more complete perspective of this small town turned city that I have been calling home. Nonetheless, we have had some hilarious encounters with strangers and he has made genuine connections with the few people I consider my real friends here.
I could not be happier to share this place with someone I love. It is so hard to explain my affection for these particular lakes and mountains to someone who has never had to pleasure to experience them with their own eyes and heart. I understand that this place will never be for him what it is to me; that my connection to this foreign land is unique to my soul, but it is enough simply to have him by my side, his eyes taking in the views that have forever stolen a piece of my heart.
We live in a small cabaña with lots of windows, rustic wood and beautiful light. The unfinished wood is full of knots that turn into funny little animal faces when you stare at them. We have a backyard that is now full of dandelions and a grill that we have cooked only one solid asado on! There are a couple of neighbor cats that come to visit us every afternoon and the lake is only a few blocks away. Though everything in the house is a bit miniature for Michael's size, we are comfortable here and have spent much of our time at home (especially during those rough few weeks of never ending winter).
|home sweet home|
|The one and only, Godana|
Michael volunteers once a week at an 'experimental school' in the neighboring Barrio Jamaica. As the name may give away, the neighborhood is full of hippies, who send their little flower children to this school, made of adobe and straw. The curriculum focuses heavily on creativity; so in addition to your standard math, science, reading and geography lessons the kids do a lot of painting, drawing, singing, poetry, dancing, and gardening. Michael has his class favorites (particularly Godana, a precocious three year old that thinks she runs things) and always comes home with hilarious stories about the daily happenings and the littlest one's inevitable shenanigans.
I've been teaching private English classes at the house. It is a modest and fairly unreliable business, but sometimes, if all my students show up, I earn enough to buy our groceries for the week. My three favorites include; Carlos, an older, Chilean gentleman, with a lovely head of slicked back, wavy hair almost reaching his shoulders, who loves economics, statistics, politics, cats, coffee, literature and summertime, and dislikes the cold and most Argentinians. He and Michael get along splendidly. Paula, an old soul on a bodily quest through the world. Lover of plants and music and yoga and travel. Our teacher-student relationship soon evolved into friendship and we spent her last few days in Bariloche having American style brunch and driving around in the giant motor-home that she and her boyfriend would be living in for the following weeks. Yamil, who might be my best student, is by far one of the most respectful 15year olds I have ever met. He always does his homework, comes to class prepared, seeks out information on his own, is quite observant and has a keen ear for mimicking pronunciation. Yamil dreams of studying in the United States, hates bullies and wants to be an actor when he grows up. Though certainly less eventful than Michael's hippie children, my students can be quite entertaining and I really enjoy the cultural dynamic that teaching at home allows.
|la casa rodante|
|Paula y su novio, Eugenio|
My friend, Ingrid, (who I met in Brazil) came to visit for a week of much needed rest before continuing her tireless journey through South America. In the last year, Ingrid has become a travelling chef of sorts. She is spearheading the nomadic underground kitchen movement, with Sol de Noite; a creative dining experience unique to each city she visits, she’s taken ‘gorilla cuisine’ on the road. When I was in Rio, I helped her with her very first dinner of this type and had the pleasure of hosting a dinner here in Bariloche as well. We somehow managed to fit 20 people in our little casita and Michael proved his worth in the kitchen!
|Ingrid en Lago Moreno|
|Michael's two favorites of the night|
We've taken a few weekend trips to the nearby pueblos over the past months; we spent a few days in El Bolson, seeking refuge from the winter trap that is Bariloche. El Bolson has a microclimate and is therefore ideal for farming and thawing frostbit bones. We took an awesome little road trip a few weeks ago, renting a car and driving from Bariloche to Villa Traful, with its turquoise, sapphire lake and endless forests of ancient trees loom precariously overhead. We made camp at the end of the lake, near a river and amongst a herd of cows. We were treated to the most spectacular of cloud shows at sunset, and as we ate our first campfire meal, the full moon rose behind a mask of nubes and tree branches. Absolute serenity. In the next days, we continued our drive up the Camino de 7 lagos to San Martin de los Andes then to Parque Nacional Lanin where we put our rental car to the test, climbing rough mountain roads, dodging logs and forging small rivers. I was determined to make it to these hot springs we had heard about. 14km of steep dirt roads and three big streams later we had to stop the car and continue on foot crossing a frigid river and hiking another 6km through native forests before arriving at the steaming pools in the middle of nowhere. Those of you who know me well, know how much I love hot springs (forever a tourist in my own town); as you can probably imagine, I was in absolute heaven. It was a peace unlike any other. And although the springs were marked it felt as if we had discovered them ourselves and were the only humans to ever have the pleasure of soaking in their volcanic waters. Dragging my noodle body back across that freezing river was significantly worse than the first time. But we were warm by the time we made it back to our camp where we cooked dinner and stared in disbelief at the billions of stars twinkling overhead. Our drive home proved to be more scenic than we had anticipated after the 100km dirt road 'cut through' I chose ended with a bridge that had apparently been broken for nearly 10 years, and we had to turn around. Almost 10 hours and some incredible sightseeing later, we were back in Bariloche. No matter how long you’re gone, it always feels good to be home.
|Rio Azul, El Bolson|
|full moon rising|
|our friends from Mendoza|
|bosque de Arrayanes, Villa la Angostura|
|cielo y arrayan|
Ingrid also gave me a book when she left. It is a book that I picked up years ago but never finished; one of those books that has a right place and time in everyone's life, and for me, it couldn't be better timing. El Poder del Ahora,The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. For those of you who have read this book, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you who have not read it, you need to. As my thoughts are often drifting towards home, I am reminded of the value of this very moment, right here, where my feet are planted. So here I am, in all of my imperfect glory, trying my hand at life and love; the most humbling journey of all. And this is where I shall stay for the time being, aqui y ahora.
Until the next time, I promise it won't be so long....