Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Cough! Splutter! Hack! Gasp!

That was me, surfacing finally from the depths of internet depravation and obscurity. Technology to us frontier housewives means hand-operated meat mincers and electric sewing machines. Even the most handy of us balk at hand-sewing curtains for a whole house. We have been staying in the new house in Neuquen, as I have mentioned, and while it has such luxuries as underfloor heating, it does not have internet - yet. It is a work in progress, almost finished but not quite. And in return for food and board and not having spent a cent since I got here (other than for immigration purposes), I have been very busy sewing curtains, and growing as a person. I now know how to make soymilk from scratch, use the residue from the soymilk-making process to bake moist and delicious cakes and savouries, build doghouses from scrap wood (the dogs are extremely grateful and thank me by jumping all over me and putting dusty paw-prints all over my clean clothes) and sew roman blinds. I have also improved my Spanish out of sheer necessity to communicate and have started reading books in Spanish with no great difficulty. Joel has an interview with someone from the cultural heritage board to present a project he has drafted, fingers crossed it will be funded and he will have work in his field... Once he has work I know it is only a matter of looking around, making a few calls and knocking on a few doors and I will have work too. It all sounds very promising, but I am finding it a bit hard to come to terms with giving up my life of busy and rewarding domesticity...

Before you exclaim loudly out of pure indignation at such a statement, let me explain. I get up at the very reasonable hour of 8am, walk the dogs around the neighbourhood (always an adventure, I will explain in depth later), get home and have a shower, then get to work on the curtains. At about 2pm we stop for lunch, which is the main meal of the day here. A decent meal, a glass of wine, perhaps a siesta, then back to work. When the natural light runs out (around 7pm at this time of year, lucky this isn't summer...), I pack up my sewing kit, usually with a new curtain hung and applauded by the general populace (if they knew how easy it was, they would probably not appreciate me so much, so I keep strategically quiet), and then I eat a light dinner and read a book, or watch a movie, or play Freecell on my computer. I had a 100% win rate until I pressed exit instead of save by accident! Now only 98%! I was totally gutted. Anyway. There is music, there are other people working around me on various things, when I get tired I chat to others, help measure or cut some wood for something, go out and play with the dogs, or make myself a snack, or bake a cake (I like cake, and it's not like I can just buy it with all my intolerances, so I make it. If other people happen to eat most of it because they like it so much then bonus). Sometimes in order to bake the cake I have to first make the soymilk and so forth, but it is all a process and I have learned so much about living cheap and doing things myself that I feel rewarded rather than domesticated.
But soon it will all come to an end. The curtains will be done and hung, the house will be occupied by the people who actually own it (Martin - Joel's dad - and Silvia, his partner), we will have our own room but it's not the same as having a place to yourselves, and we will have jobs which will require us to either have a car or live in town - or both. The new neighbourhood is on what was farmland (such as the farmland is in the Patagonian desert), and is situated outside of the dodgy neighbourhood which grew up outside of the industrial area outside of town... So yeah, we are kind of isolated with no car and no phone and no internet... Anyhow, I am making the most of this idyll while it lasts, and using the time to recharge my batteries, which were much depleted after a stressful few months in the home country.

The dogs are both a frustration and a delight, and deserve a paragraph of their own. The alsation Achilles and the mixed-breed and limpy Petrona (traffic accident, I believe, before she came to live with us, which left her with a dislocated hip and limited use of one hind leg) are the most loveable and wonderful dogs you have ever met. They obey when you say come, sit, outside, stop biting her you silly mutt etc etc, and bark loudly at strange cars, motorbokes, byciclists, dogs and small fluffy things that scrabble about in the grass. But they have let burglars enter the premises at least twice, and they are more likely to jump all over an intruder in an exuberant and desperate display of affection than they are to bite or chase. I call them my trepid explorers, because they love to go for walks with me, but stay glued to my legs when they feel insecure. I tell them what good dogs they are for protecting me so well. A new puppy is about to arrive on the scene though - we are hoping that in her training she will influence the other dogs to mistrust strangers until properly introduced, because this is definitly a country in which you need guard dogs, and hopefully they will teach her how to be so lovely. To be continued...

[Postscript: new puppy is gorgeous! And bitey and playful and friendly and cute and I luff her. And Petrona looks suspiciously round bellied, so maybe more puppies soon! Aw, aint nature wonderful?]

In other news, there is a national pandemic of swine flu, the wrong people won the election and things are getting more and more expensive... but there is still the possibility in some places of buying a hectare of land for 200 NZD, and getting a well-paid job, so all is not lost. For a third world country there is an abundance of opportunities.

I am being pressured to finish so we can leave the cyber place. I will try to upload photos as soon as possible, of house, curtains and puppies. Much love, happiness and prosperity to all. Congratulations on new babies and all the best to all of you fighters for justice, equality and the right to build whatever you like. Much love!