Tuesday, November 25, 2008

October 2008 - Returning home to Patagonia

It was such an overwhelming feeling of joy to reach the frontier of Chile at the Futa crossing yesterday. Nowhere do the Andes seem more majestic. The hard-packed volcanic ash however, still lines the 10-kilometer road leading into town and large transport trucks kick up swirling clouds of it. An omen of the season to come. Cleanup crews, rains and snows have reduced the ash somewhat, but large patches and thin layers coat the countryside. This will be a serious contention when the hot dry winds hit in December.

Futa seemed as lovely as ever when we pulled in late on Monday. The cabin smells of stale woodsmoke and I was appalled with how I left it. It will take me at least a whole day just to organize the mess before I start to clean, and pack for an eventual move to our new home (when?). But most startling was the punch in the heart I felt when it was finally real that Max is not here anymore. Remembering the email from Daniella, the Vet, I imagine Max escaping in his anger and frustration, racing down the road and positioning himself at the door here. Waiting for us to come home, defending the cabin for us. Max, sitting in front of the cabin, waiting for us to come home.

Max went out of his mind. He became a dangerous dog. My Max who slept curled up behind my legs, who had such great joy when Greg woke up and we were all there. He tried to tell us things...he would make sounds with his mouth and poke us with his nose..."I love you! I'm so happy!". He would bound with joy across the river rocks out at our property, sit for hours along side Greg with his nose easy against Greg's leg. "I'm happy as long as I'm with you". He would watch a piece of beef jerky on the counter longingly for hours without touching it, but had no resistance to a box of milk, or slab of butter or cheese. That was too much for him. He hated cats as much as mice, and there was no containing him with other dogs. A frenzy. But as long as he had us, he tried. He only wanted us.

Daniella tried, she explained in an email to us while we were in the U.S.. But when Max cornered her in her house menacingly, then escaped to our rental and tried to attack the neighbor, we had no choice. Heliberto brought Max's cage to the shed out back and lured Max into it. Later, Daneilla brought some good, fresh ground beef laced with a heavy sedative and Max was happy. He drifted into a deep sleep. Then she put in an IV line and Max left us. When he was gone, she wrapped him in a blanket and took him out to bury him at our property. Max is at peace now. I am profoundly sad that we didn't get to touch him one last time and tell him how much I loved him anyway.

This morning I am up early, I think, I don't have a watch, but it seems early, and chilly. I opened the back door to catch some sun and there is Max's crate, and his harness. And the blankets in his crate and his dishes. He only wanted us to come back home. My heart feels like a hot stone in my chest and I sit down in the doorway and put my head against the crate for awhile. I miss you Max. I'm sorry.

Anyway, I have my instant coffee, and a massive project in front of me. And a messed up ankle to confound it all. Today we need to pay the internet bill, get boxes, some bleach and get busy. Wash dishes, hang out blankets and rugs, sort and pack clothes, clean the fridge, sweep, wash walls. Find an electrician, arrange for a truck and three men to haul our furniture out to our house (when?). Organize all our junk. Time to get busy.

Busy? I've been doing this for a year, getting busy but not getting any further along. Later on, out in our unfinished house, by candle light, I write a letter to my best friend back in the U.S.

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