Photos above: Tres Monjas, a view from where I live now in Chile with no electric; a picture of Greg, Nick, Dess and Chris, my lovely family;, me at age 18 - shipping out to Germany as a Tank Turret Mechanic, and then a picture of me at 46 - in Panama, with coffee bushes on our coffee farm in the background. I am plucking a chicken a farmer gave me after giving him a ride of 30 miles up into the highlands. Life is an adventure. I feel Lucky Tonight! Life is good.
I hate birthdays, but it is, at least, an occasion to reflect. I reflected with Greg...our life and adventure so far, and since he rarely pays attention ( I COULD have had a facelift and he wouldn't notice...gotten Double D's and he'd just give me a passing questioning glance), I sent him the link for futalandia, specifically the New Movie Post. He laughed, then was introspective, and then a little emotional, then in the end, laughing with eyes a little moist. And it stands still, as the post that most describes what our life is like here, and how it is a roller coaster. The New Movie encapsulates our life here, our ups and downs. Our joys and disappointments, and finally, even if it is just for the moment, our "coming to terms" with the details of, and the results of, our adventure.
So, here is New Movie, again....
A New Movie...I'll pitch the screen play...
Picture this! Survivor meets Nights in Rodanthy meets Grapes of Wrath. Kick in a little bit of of 28 Days and you have Futalandia! The short pitch is, we have an exploding volcano, freezing, isolated nights, pickup trucks with no tire chains trying to navigate two feet of snow on gravel roads, the woman is pushing a pickup truck while it slides back - almost over her, a diet of beans and suspect smoked pork ribs. Crawling out of a small wooden cabin to dig a hole in the harsh dim light of a Patagonia winter to take a crap...ground frozen, toilet paper rolls down and over a ledge...Spring time...one six pack of cerveza, chilling in the sparkling river, then gone, tumbling over rocks into a raging cascade, gone. Licking volcanic ash from your teeth when you wake up in the morning from a night of snoring under 20 pounds of blankets. Fingers shaking with hypothermic tremors in an attempt to start a fire with wet, ash-encrusted wood.
Then....THEN! The glorious four weeks of summer arrive and it's 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the river is cold and lined with wild roses and fuchsia. A woman, soon to turn fifty, and having not seen herself in a mirror in years, still imagines herself twenty year old. She sits on her front porch, down along a path that leads to a rushing river. The still, snow-encrusted Andes rise up all around. She lays a notepad on her knees and fishes a felt pen out of the lint-lined pocket of her torn, stained chinos, and writes:
"Sit for awhile in a Patagonia forest, along a river or a stream and as you grow quiet ...There! Something will catch your eye - a movement. But you turn, and there is nothing but the quiet forest. No stirring breeze at all, but the shadows move. The river is humming a G-chord now, but by sundown it will have erupted into harmonies.
"Around the house," she continues to write and sip from her mug, "the morning sun warms the bottles of bar and chain oil and they expand and burp. The fresh sawed lumber bakes in the sun, lazing down in a break between the canopy of cohaique trees. It's too early but I have a coffee cup of wine anyway. I sit here and think of all our adventures in foreign places. Picking up and starting over for the sheer adventure of a new culture. Here...I find I've bitten off more than I can chew.
"And just as we were ready to say "Uncle!", a wise man I don't know told me, "Take Smaller Bites." Ahhhh....Patagonia.
"And so, I'll try. Definitely. Because in leaving Patagonia, I'd leave my soul behind. We thought of returning to Panama. The Devil you know is safer than the Devil you Don't Know! Then...this anonymous person on the internet wrote and essentially said to me, "It's not the Devil - it's just a different animal."
"And so, I need to learn this animal, Patagonia. Learn it's ways and idiosynchracies. Because really, if I made a "plus" and "minus" list, the plus list would be long. And the minus list would only say, "It's Hard."
There are so many things in between this and the end of the film. And THAT is what is so exciting. All the stuff in between. But let me just clue you into the end. It is not a spoiler....
Just before the last celluloid frames of the filmstrip flap over the reel, (thwap, thwap, thwap) and it is placed back in a metal can and laid upon a shelf forever...the woman, not looking too much older than her fifty years long ago, sits on a porch swing with a handsome, equally elderly man. They are both slightly senile and fragile. Dusk slides into night.
Up through the Cohaique trees, the bright stars of the Patagonia night shine and the river is singing. The old woman turns, just slightly towards the old man, raises her long lovely hand toward his gentle old face, and slaps him.
"What the Hell were you thinking, moving us here?!"