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Welcome to Patagonia, they chortled.

I set up my tent to a chorus of laughter. Chuckles turned to cackles, then built into contagious, breathless hilarity that shook the trees and rattled the windows of the houses around the lawn. It spread across the street, into the next yard, until the entire flock of black-winged jesters exploded from the tall pines, […]

Finish this sentence: All work and no play…

…make Jack Nicholson chase after his family with an axe through a topiary garden. Right?

Santiago isn’t exactly in the running for the setting of “The Shining II”, but I was definitely beginning to feel twitchy and cooped up. No wonder, with this as my most frequent work space:

Working through my pile of […]

Crowd-Support

5:30 pm. I stood on the platform of the Santiago metro. No, not stood, sagged. Eyelids blinked in slow motion. Shoulders protested the weight of my bag. I was exhausted. The day’s interviews (two: one with a representative from Ecosistemas, and the second with a spokesman for Costa Carrera) and the wealth of information they’d […]

How to Get into Santiago from the Airport…without a taxi!

I landed in Santiago on Friday morning, jet-lagged, sticky, bleary-eyed, and with a stomach dancing about in what Syreena assures me is excitement, not fear. I broke down the things I needed to do into tiny steps. First, immigration and customs. I did NOT have to pay the silly $100 reciprocity fee (only because I […]

Don’t Sweep the Walls – or – Things in Peru are Different

The most social place in any house is the kitchen. In this, at least, my Peruvian homestay was like any other home in the world. Life happened while meals were being cooked. It was the specific details of that life that constantly reminded me that I was living in a different culture. I loved living […]

The Birthday Party

Tia Maria turned 47 yesterday. Tia (Aunt) Maria is Feliciana’s sister, and runs a local food-and-lodging establishment and internet café. Unlike the one-year-old birthday party for Maria’s granddaughter, Luciana, that I attended the first weekend I arrived in Ollantaytambo, this party was noticeably lacking in pink decorations and Barbie piñatas. There were no elaborately frosted […]

¡Radio Felicidad!

Feliciana likes to turn the radio on while she cooks lunch in the early afternoon. Today is Sunday, no school day, and Camila and I sat on tiny wooden stools in the doorway, flipping through her older brother’s Spanish-English dictionary and practicing the alphabet. It was good practice for me, too, to think of words […]

John Muir’s take on friendship and love

“To ask me whether I could endure to live without friends is absurd. It is easy enough to live out of material sight of friends, but to live without human love is impossible. Quench love, and what is left of a man’s life but the folding of a few jointed bones and square inches of […]

Susan’s next adventure – and first real writing job!

I’m planning a trip back to Peru in March and April, this time not just for fun, but with a purpose. I’m going to be working for a non-profit organization (Awamaki) based in Ollantaytambo, a small town not far from the famous Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited […]

a month at the middle

The fun of the weekly market at Saquisilí began for me at around 4:30 AM when a baby sheep fell off the roof of the bus. It dangled, hooves desperately seeking purchase on the smooth glass of my window. I’d watched it (and eleven others) being hauled up, baaaaaing all the way, an hour before, […]