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Routines in Macondo

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's not that I've got this home-making thing all figured out, or anything. Or that my kids have started entertaining themselves with stimulating, crafty activities while I make any progress at all on drafting a PhD proposal (or even, say, go to the bathroom by myself).

Don't get me wrong.

But I'm starting to get a few little things to feel like they're working. It's about time, really - I've been here for almost a year now. And like the quirks of language acquisition I observe in my kids, the routines I am most aware of here reveal a lot about our lifestyle. 

Beach play. And blackouts.

Living so close to the beach, I was pretty happy when I had finally worked out a decent routine for getting the two kids ready and out the door for some beach time in less than...an hour.

No small feat! It only took about a year of trial and error and pulling my hair out and pleading with my kids.

It's true that Macondo Papa can pull it all off in about half the time, but this inevitably means no spare diaper, screwing the snacks, forgetting the favourite toys and depending on MY pre-packed beach bag.

However, our dealing-with-power-outage prowess is a shared accomplishment, and it requires a lot of teamwork. This, too, took some time. Many a blackout has included fumbling around for flashlights, matches, candles, surfaces for candles, and so on. Oh, and usually a screaming kid or two at some point.

Daytime power outages can also be very challenging, but our most recent nighttime blackout bears recounting. It lasted from about 9pm to 2am, with a comfortable outside temperature of 40°C.

The kids were playing, and we were getting dinner ready. (Yes, we have dinner at 9pm). We saw a few flashes of lightning and then...we saw nothing. (¡Se cortó!)

Macondo Papa was closest to the kids, so he stumbles towards them both, scooping them up and establishing the excited 'yay! it's a power outage and everything is fine' tone for the evening.

I head for the Beloved Blackout Basket, now finally well-stocked with tea candles, long candles, flashlights, a lighter and old plates we use as candle holders.

With basic lighting in place, we quickly debate the pros and cons of opening the windows. It's hotter outside, but as the storm picks up, there is a bit of (hot) wind. Moving air feels like a good thing, so we open up.

While Macondo Papa gets dinner on the table, I move toys and shoes and bits and pieces of clothing away from all the windows, as the rain quickly starts to spray through our screens and form puddles on the floor.

We light a few more candles and sit down for dinner. The storm outside rages. We watch the light show as the rain sprinkles us and our dinner. We talk about how a long time ago, there was no electricity and people always used candles at nighttime. The monster adds: yeah, and telephones with cords.

We cover the kids in generous helpings of cornstarch.

We bring the monster's mattress into our room, and I nurse the monkey down while the monster gets his story and takes the usual forever to fall asleep.

The temperature starts to rise. The rain slows to a trickle and the wind dies down. It is very h.o.t.

Macondo Papa and I lay a few towels on the various puddles around the house and try to remember which lights and fans we need to turn off. Have I mentioned that it was hot? Stifling, in fact.

We light our gorgeous new citronella burner (those mosquitoes love themselves a good blackout) and then collapse, as spread out as possible, into our bed. We occasionally touch each other with a finger tip, so as to say "good night, I love you, but no way am I going to touch you."

The temperature goes up and up, the kids stir in their sleep. I concentrate on finding an elbow I can unfold a bit more or a part of neck to extend further, to feel just the slightest of breezes actually move a bit of air over an additional millimetre of my skin. It is hot, hot, hot.

PLEASE KIDS, DO NOT WAKE UP. Please. Please. Puhhh-leeeeeeease.

Two hours in bed, fully stretched out, remembering to breathe -- this too shall pass, I have given birth to two kids, I survived dengue fever all by myself in the middle of nowhere, I can handle this, this too shall pass... and ...

Flash! The lights we had forgotten about brighten the room, the whir of the fans breathes some movement back into the air, and we quickly turn off the lights, blow out our little citronella burner, and drift off to sleep, cuddling with more than just our fingertips.


Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

Wow! What a fascinating life you live. I just read through your whole explanation of why you decided to move to Argentina and the lifestyle there and everything. I wish I knew you in real life. This is something I would love to do, but probably don't have the courage. I did spend a semester abroad in Chile during college & while there I visited Argentina and Brazil. It was awesome. But living in a place is very different than visiting. I am excited to find your blog and eager to read your daily musings about life in Macondo. PS I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez too.


Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

PPS I just wanted to qualify my earlier comment in that I meant that I was not brave enough to pick up and move to Argentina not because I'm an annoying American who thinks things are better here. I don't. Though I may be annoying. My main reservation is finding work for the hubster, myself, learning to speak Spanish fluently enough not to feel like a total moron at all times, learning to live without the daily conveniences I have here. Etc, etc. I'm sure I would actually love it if we were able to work out all the details though. It's always been my secret dream. Anyway, I admire you. And look forward to hearing more about your daily life.

macondo mama said...

Organic - I should point out that I had several things going for me that made my move to Argentina less daunting than it would probably be for you. My partner is Argentinian, my Spanish is fluent, and our job prospects weren't really much better in Canada than they are here (which is to say, we're still underemployed here, just like we were there).

Thanks so much for your comments. It's really great to hear from you (made my day!).

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