|Gina, taken a few days after arriving in Lago Puelo.|
My Intermittent Fasting friend, Gina, from Patagonia writes:
A Brief Account of My life So Far...
I grew up a lighthouse-keeper's daughter (with my three siblings) around the coast of NZ before my father became a wild-life ranger on Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf (near Auckland) where I lived until I went to The Elam School of Fine Arts at the age of 17.
My professional life has swung between hospitality and the arts. I began cooking professionally at 18, and also had a 15-year career as a graphic artist specialising in magazine design.
For years at a time I lived in the house I built on another remote island off the coast where I eked out a living variously spinning, weaving, making ceramics, quilting, and sometimes working on the local mussel-farms.
At the end of 2001 I moved from my island home to an artist's community in the far north of NZ, which is where I met 'LL'. We became great friends before we went any further...eventually moving on, travelling round the world together, buying and operating a takeaway business in NZ for five years, then selling that to move to Carlos' native Argentina to build our own house.
I hesitate to talk about retirement because we both feel far too young (even though we're not) and we certainly can't afford to!
One of the best things about this last year is that both of us have finally got to grips with our health issues and dumped the extra weight, much to our relief. It feels truly amazing to keep discovering bits of my body that were previously just rumours...my coccyx, and those funny dents under my ribs! (Never seen them before....oranges, indeed!
These three lovely women are sisters - the mother (on the right) and two aunties of our dear friend L, who was my bridesmaid. L is currently in NZ, and the Aunties from BA are visiting her Mum. They asked me to take some photos of them all dressed up like this, which I was delighted to do.
The strange instrument that Tia (Aunty) centre is holding, is made from lots of little hooves with holes bored through, tied together with cords. I am not sure which animal the hooves came from. Probably goats or sheep. It made a clacking noise.
I have had two excursions with the three sisters so far: to the waterfall at El Hoyo ( we never got there) and into El Bolson one night last week to watch tango dancing in the street (it had snowed on the mountains behind the night before and was bitterly cold). The elder aunty is 80 years old and still full of go, despite her gammy leg. They are here for a while yet so we may well have another adventure together.
Here they are doing their Argentine version of the Andrews Sisters, or similar. It was in fact much more sheer fun play-acting than musical!
Life in Lago Puelo is as interesting as ever, and much busier for me now. I knew that life would catch up with me eventually.The household is now down to five people, with three more coming and going. My baking is much easier now. It was sheer pandemonium in the kitchen a while back: people making things to eat and drink and continually asking me questions while I was trying to concentrate. (Good training for keeping my temper and carrying on regardless.)
As well as stretching my brain learning to speak Castellano (Argentines prefer to not call it Spanish), doing yoga, writing, taking photos, walking everywhere and baking muffins every day, plus cooking and making bread for this extended artisanal household, I am getting to know more people around the area & beginning to feel part of the community. Being forced to speak the language if I want anything, or feel like expressing myself somehow, is improving my conversational skills in leaps and bounds.
My muffins continue to sell out at the lake. It is good to be contributing to expenses. My efforts are covering food costs for the house, with more left over, which is very satisfying. This means I can do things like buy a new pair of canvas shoes, and get my hair cut (tonight) without feeling guilty about spending money that should be going to the house.
La casa de Lagorio (house of Lagorio) is proceeding slowly but surely. There have been a few hiccups with the supply of various things, but now the roof is completely finished and our builder is about to start on the greenhouse tower. The mud-brick men have been engaged and will make our bricks on-site as soon as they are able to get around to it.
With time speeding past, it now seems we probably will not have the house entirely enclosed before our return to NZ at the end of March - just 8 weeks away! However we will leave the work under the capable supervision of Dani. Hopefully we will be able to move in and 'camp' inside when we get back here, next winter or spring. (We have no idea exactly how long we will stay in NZ…depends on how much work the two of us can conjure up.)
I plan to be back in Lago Puelo by the beginning of Spring, because I want to plant a hedge along our fence-line. We planted our first fruit tree a few days ago: a cherry, that was a wedding gift from one of our feria/artisan friends and his family. They brought it over, we all chose the right spot (the north-facing corner by Carlos' workshop) and planted it together with due ceremony. I can hardly wait to sit under the cherry tree and eat sun-ripened cherries…
Meanwhile raspberries are still in full swing at the Frambuseria (the raspberry shop). I have 'discovered' that frozen raspberries behave much better in muffins than fresh (the frozen really are fresh too). Frozen raspberries also make the perfect smoothie, needing little else than a slosh of water and maybe a bit of banana chucked in for sweetness.Strawberries this year are unusually few and far between. Nobody is sure what happened. The ones I have tried were not very good. This has been well made up for by the quality of the other berry fruits. Red-currants, black-currants, boysenberries, raspberries, gooseberries…all divine. I keep wanting to make a summer pudding, but nobody here is particularly interested in desserts so it would be a waste of time.
Not eating pudding is fine, but the reason - as I see it - is that general eating habits here don't allow for it. To begin with, nobody (except me) plans ahead or does any prep. That means discussing what you're going to have at the time 'we' would be sitting down to eat. Then somebody has to go and buy whatever's necessary. (Shops re-open at 5.30 after the siesta, until late!) I am becoming more used to not eating until 9 or even 10 at night, but I still find it weird.
The second thing is the Argentine habit of taking lots of small helpings, rather than deciding what you will eat, putting it on your plate, and that's it - as I prefer to eat. The result of all this picking a little bit here and a little bit there is that you have no idea how much you have eaten or drunk, and the meal just keeps going on, and on, and on….I have been chastised for clearing the plates from the table too soon, when to me they were way overdue!
I just put my meal all on my plate at once anyway…don't care if anybody thinks I'm odd.
Today is going to rain so I am not making my usual muffins, except for one batch of banana and dulce de leche, as R came back yesterday with an order for ten. I am also going to make some savoury muffins for the first time, for the house.
Later today I am catching a ride into El Bolson with my Californian friend and her two little boys. I am having my hair cut by the aunty of the daughter of OH, who has her own salon. I haven't had a haircut for over seven months and the ends are a mess.
Cat & dog are well and happy. The girlfriend of OH told me yesterday that Gris is in fact a Papa - the cat in the house next to us has had three grey kittens with his beautiful emerald green eyes!