Saturday, September 1, 2007

August and Everything After

What season is August in Patagonia? I struggle to find a point of reference from my previous life, but I can´t help feeling like I´m neither here nor there. The end of the month has been marked by the arrival of howling winds and various forms of precipitation. I sit next to the fire listening to Neil Young and eating dried figs, dreaming of California breakfasts with fresh squeezed orange juice, pancakes, and breakfast burritos. August is neither spring or winter.

My students have lost their fresh from vacation luster and appear bored most of the time. I decide to teach my seventh and eighth graders adjectives to describe personality, and I orchestrate an elaborate photo shoot with all of the kids acting out the words. Some manage to ham it up but it dawns on me that these kids are not from a culture of picture taking. Most of them stand in front of the camera like deer in headlights.

As we roll into September, all the stores in town gear up for the grand independence day fiesta. Windows are filled with traditional costumes and Chilean flags. Supermarkets prepare to give away barbeque supplies to the less fortunate. Schools debate whether or not to take the entire week off. And everyone warns me to be careful with the chicha, a traditional fermented grape drink that is consumed in large quantities on September 18th along with various types of empanadas. Apparently chicha will give you the worst hangover of your life. Hopefully not if you eat enough empanadas and dance enough cueca...

So I welcome the first day of September and the passing of August gloom. The air already feels different, as if maybe, just maybe, spring is on its way.

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