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Nos gusta Palena!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

 

A Guest Post by Jane Woodman

First of all, everything Margaret has said is true.  It IS winter here, the fire DOES need constant attention, and the snow capped mountains ARE amazing, dwarfing and framing the tiny pueblo of Palena nestled within.  It is spectacular.  Cows graze the surrounding hills, dogs are everywhere roaming the dirt streets, roosters crow, a chicken skittles by outside the teeny kitchen window as I wash dishes at the sink (after re-igniting the hot water pilot for hot water).  In this scale of life it becomes clear: the elements – weather, nature, and how soon to put another log into the stove – are important, but la cosa más importante es la gente!  PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE.

And in 5 short days we met a lot of people!  We met many students, all practicing, “Hello, Hello” with us, and watched Margaret in action teaching, skillfully maintaining friendly control.  Alice, Dave and I were presented, la familia, to all of Margaret’s elementary classes, joining in on the songs, and English speaking lessons.  At the end of each class we had a Q and A time — “En su país, hay animales feroces [are there ferocious animals in your country] ?” and  the children proudly shared their favorite things about living in Palena… the plaza, the school, the new municipal building, swimming in the river, the view at the top of the nearby mountain.  Older students we met later at Margaret’s house also well spoke well of Palena, citing the safety — “Es tranquila”.

We also met warm friendly Miriam who runs a tiny mercado– Margaret’s favorite for eggs and we found some good nuts – who reassured us, los padres, that she is watching out over Meg; Blanca, who with her husband runs a larger mercado down the street with more produce (few veggies this time of year, but zucchinis are in supply now, carrots, iceberg lettuce…) and invited us in for tea; Melissa (works for the Fundación) and partner Tito, true kindred spirits – so kind and helpful to Margaret  – living off the land in the campo; Carmen, who teaches the weaving class and came over for mate, introducing us to the slow beautiful ritual of passing the small tin mate cup around the table, refilled for each person who then sips the strong tea through the metal straw; and so many others.

We joined Claudio (a doctor) and Belen (an artist) with others for Belen’s birthday in their modern house, and on our last night we were invited to a gathering at Alejandra (another teacher) and husband Ariel’s house for what became a full night of raising our glasses– “Salud! Salud!” –and dancing to American music DJ’d by Cristian (Margaret’s co-teacher) from the computer.  Salud!!

Everyone was so welcoming of us. Gracias, Palena!

Days later we are far away from Palena, enjoying the big city life of Buenos Aires. Sweet Palena seems even smaller, the heaters in our (wonderful) little apartment suite more precious, and it feels wasteful to throw the tea bag wrapper in the trash instead of into the fire. We no longer say “Hola” to EVERY passing person, and we have to pay attention when crossing streets.  It is fun to wine and dine Margaret who has been away from this for some time and Alice who has learned how to live on a dime in San Francisco. So it’s delicious ice cream (they know us behind the counter already – we’re the ones always asking to try a taste of yet another flavor), pastries, Italian/Argentinian cuisine, wine, a corny tango show last night and a visit to an Estancia (ranch) set up for later this week complete with horseback riding, too many meals, gaucho horse show, and a tour of the teeny colonial town San Antonio D’areco. We’ve lucked out as well with really mild temperatures and bright sunny days.

The only ongoing suspense has been the volcanic ash cloud which has continued to shut down air travel – at this very moment Alice is at the airport due to leave this eve for San Francisco and so far her flight is on track though for the prior 5 days flights have been cancelled.  Chau Alicia xoxo. We will continue on as best we can and continue to enjoy Buenos Aires!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny Ladd permalink
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 7:11 am

    Lovely to read of your family being together with Meg Margaret – I cant wait to hear more about your adventures on your return – Much love, Jenny

    • Thursday, July 14, 2011 8:50 am

      Thanks, Jenny! I know, it is funny to hear my parents calling me Margaret. But is so nice to be together. Sending you my love in summertime!

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