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Bienvenido a Palena

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What a strange feeling, to pass under this sign, knowing I will live here for a year, in a place I had never previously visited (we took the picture later).  My first few days have been a mix of going over teaching orientation materials, walking around town in the blazing heat, and hopping in the pick-up truck for various excursions.  On Sunday, we climbed up a little hill to see this view of the town:

We also walked down through the foundation’s organic garden, eating a few ciruelas (plums) in the orchard.  After wading through fields of wheat, wild flowers, and rosa mosqueta (a prickly plant whose berries are made into jam), we waded in the Río Palena.  I have never seen clearer water.

I think now I know the meaning of pristine.  The amount of beauty, untouched by humans, is unlike anything I’ve ever known.  Of course, there are also bare mountains where the wood has been cut down, and cows and sheep and horses and chickens, but then there are mountains with no trails.  Wow.

I am so excited to have a new little home!  I am living in a room (below) in the foundation office (above).

There are also bedrooms for other people who will come and go.  Here is the kitchen, complete with the all-important wood stove.  So far we only built a fire one night, and since then we’ve been cooking on an electric stove because it is so hot!  Also, notice the yummy local cheese in the foreground.

Since it’s summer, we have been enjoying the fresh produce, including lettuce, peas, and cucumber from the garden that went into this dinner last night:

I know some of this euphoria will fade, but for now, I am feeling positive about the year to come.  Even in just a few days, I’ve begun to meet people in the library, mini markets, and so on.  The librarian invited me to accompany him to visit a rural town next week as part of the Biblioteca Móvil (moving library).  And today I was called Tía (literally, aunt, but the customary address for teachers) for the first time, by a girl I met at the library!

Of course, this gorgeous weather and relaxed pace will come to and end when the semester starts in March– oh right, I have a job!  Yesterday, as I watched the sunset from this little lookout at the end of my street, I thought, how bad could a day really be that couldn’t be cured by this?  I am counting on the landscape here to nourish and nurture me, even in the cold and rainy winter.  But today, at 43˚ South, it is summer.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, February 8, 2011 5:39 pm

    Beautiful! Love the “Being a Grown-up” tag.

  2. Tuesday, February 8, 2011 5:42 pm

    I knew you would. My tags are too serious, so I thought I’d mix it up. After all, being a grown-up is the real objective of this year. I’m not already a complete grown-up like my big sis!

  3. sally johnson permalink
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011 5:58 pm

    You are amazing! what a beautiful place you have arrived in…pristine waters, indeed. soak it up, honey…each day will bring new wonders, from the people to the surroundings, to the food. How lucky they are to have someone so committed and willing to learn as well as teach. a rare combination, my dear! Love you lots,

    • Tuesday, February 8, 2011 8:02 pm

      Thanks Sally! I feel so lucky to have so much to soak up! I’m thinking of you all, too. Say hi to Geoff for me.

  4. joan permalink
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011 8:25 pm

    I just love the juxtaposition of reading (and imagining) your warm, textured, poetic descriptions of life in your captivating little South American village as the New England winterwind howls; the temps forecast for 5 degrees tonight. Thank you for the inspiration, your beautiful prose and eloquence in capturing the essence of your experience. And… so grateful, Meg, for your generosity in sharing it so lovingly… joan

    • Tuesday, February 8, 2011 9:15 pm

      A Joan, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! I am constantly thinking of the juxtaposed seasons, too… there is an apple tree outside my window that will be ready to harvest soon, as in, fall?! How strange!

  5. Jane Williams permalink
    Tuesday, February 8, 2011 10:42 pm

    Dearest Meg,

    I am bursting with pride to be your ancient aunt. And I’m having so much fun with your blog. Passing it on to John. Lovelove, A. Jane

  6. jane woodman permalink
    Wednesday, February 9, 2011 4:25 pm

    Meg I’m just loving all of this! Don’t be surprised if someone VERY familiar just happens to show up on the next bus into town! Ha Ha Ha. I’m also really enjoying the community that shows up in the comments. Hello everybody. Love to you Meg and to all, xoxo

  7. Cynthia Watkins permalink
    Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:35 pm

    Hi Meg,
    I am loving your blog. Seeing the pictures and reading your messages. I feel like I’m living it vicariously. Hope you feel us with you too. And soon you will be teaching! Wow! Go Tia.

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