Note: This post is long! They won’t all be!
We fired up the wood stove again last night – its been collecting dust since last Winter. Made something like Thanksgiving dinner (for Easter), which I guess makes sense as we live on the bottom of the world now. And everything, including seasons, is pretty backwards here. Even a seemingly relaxing activity requires patience and restraint. For example, we woke up early yesterday and decided to go to a movie (The Hunger Games), easy enough. But, as the only movie theatre that’s clean enough to go to is an hour away, we had to get on the road at 11:00 to see the 1:20 showing. Fine. We show up to the mall where the movie theatre is located thinking that in a heavily Catholic country, Easter weekend would have people involved in ‘family activities’ and the mall would be empty. Think again. The place was mobbed. Not only was every Chilean and their mom at the mall that day, but it seemed the entire population of Mendoza (the nearest large Argentine city,) had decided to come to the mall by the beach as well. Not knowing this, we venture down to the parking garage which of course, is designed to accommodate about a quarter of the people who will actually be visiting the mall on any given day. So rather than a parking space, we find ourselves embroiled in a parking spot war with every vacation Argentine in town. Not fun. So we gave up and decided to park about a mile away. Thankfully it was a beautiful day so we didn’t mind too much. We head up to the theatre and try to purchase tickets only to find that the movie had started at 1:00 and we’re ten minutes late. The 1:20 start time is at the movie theatre across the street. So we push through the crowds and run on over to the other theatre. It’s now 1:20 as we get in line in front of the ticket counter manned by one person. Inexplicably, everyone in front of us seems to know the one person working at the ticket counter and feels the need to ‘catch up’ with said employee. And here comes the rage. We now begin grumbling in English (not loudly, mind you) about the situation. How ‘this seems to always happen to us, why can’t we just have a relaxing day without wanting to physically injure others, etc.’, when I hear the young woman in front of us recounting our complaints to her boyfriend in Spanish as if we were talking about murdering puppies. I decided to listen in as she whined and bad-mouthed us until I could no longer handle it. Both my husband and I then began speaking in her direction in Spanish which escalated things a bit to the point where we all were talking to/about each other, knowing we were understood. Now, what we couldn’t convey or make understood in this brief exchange are things like the following post, which should elucidate why we get so frustrated in the first place. After my initial anger subsided, I spent the first part of the Hunger Games feeling very sheepish and guilty about having complained so much. And that got me thinking. Obviously i can’t understand what that woman’s life’s like just as she can’t know what my life in Chile has been like. She probably thinks we are here as English teachers, (true to a certain extent) or worse, as tourists, and therefore assumes a number of things about us. One being that we’ve got money to burn (definitely not true) and two, that we have little to no responsibility here other than making sure our hangover has worn off enough to be able to make it to class. Though the latter is true on occasion, we certainly have our fare share of responsibilities. And, since most Chileans (as is the norm in most Spanish-speaking countries) live with their parents until they are married (usually around 30), I venture to say we have more responsibilities here than the average Chilean our age. At the risk of pissing off any and all Chilean friends I have, let me explain through food.
This is our stove now.
It’s wood burning and heats our house and imparts woody-tasting yumminess into our food and is basically awesome. We bought it off a neighbor last March and hooked it up last April (a year ago exactly). The evolution of our kitchen shows a lot about our experience here in a way not much else can.
The picture above is how we started cooking here in Laguna Verde. And just to be clear, this is not a weekend camp out. This was months of living (while holding jobs) without plumbing or electricity. Upon arriving, our first house guests commented that what we were doing was just like what his grandfather and grandmother did when they moved out West to homestead in the late 1800s. Just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with. And cooking was a breeze. Here’s the process.
1) Wake up as early as possible
2) Fetch sticks from around the yard
3) Find ‘fire starter’ (aka. student’s tests and graded materials from school)
4) Place sticks and papers in perfect configuration to make fire starting possible. Re-do fire starting configuration 5-10 times.
5) Curse said fire starting configuration. (repeat)
6) Place teapot on fire. Realize you’re already awake and don’t need coffee. Realize you’re now late for work.
Then we got a little upgrade.
Thankfully, it didn’t stay that way for long. Getting this changed our lives. Cooking was no longer an expedition! We were getting there.