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about macondo

"Macondo" is the name of the fictional town where some of Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez's stories take place.

Wikipedia has this to say:
Given the town's association with magical realism, many Latin Americans would portray the everyday illogical or absurd news and situations they or their respective countries face as more aptly belonging to Macondo.

I've packed up my family and moved to Macondo - that mythical land of magical realism that is part small town absurdity, part third world tragedy, and also filled with love, humour, community, history and music.

It is a place I'll never really be a part of, if only because my ancestors didn't live here 100 years ago, but also because I come from big city cosmopolitanism, first world 'logic', middle class rationality, a nuclear family sense of privacy. And I have the privilege to come and go, to stay or to leave.

Really, this blog should fill up with critical and bizarre reflections on local political and social life. So far though, it is just the silly day-to-day macondismos that I can't help but write about. Most certainly because my head is more in the silly day-to-day, and not because the political/social world has any shortage of macondismos to reflect upon.

I live in a small, beautiful beach town in Argentina. My town is a Macondo, nested inside another, inside another, inside another.

In my town, the power goes out all the time, just because. The town paid for a big "Bus Terminal" sign to go where the bus terminal no longer was. The recent circus extravaganza featured "the smallest motorycle rider in the world."

In the province, doctors don't get paid for the first few months of every year, because their yearly contracts expire every January, and it takes months of paperwork with every new contract before they can start getting paid again.

In the country, there are fights every few years about whether to turn the clocks back for daylight savings time or not. One year they do it. One year they don't. Some provinces refuse. The country is indecisive. Then they just decide to forget about the whole thing. At the last minute. Meanwhile, even in the age of the internet and debit cards, the country seems unable to find a way for their beloved retired folks to get their pension money every month without - literally - standing in line for many hours in the hot sun / pouring rain / bitter cold. Get those poor old folks some shade and a place to sit, I say.

In the region, well... I'm getting way ahead of myself and my little blog. But to get all serious for a minute, I do think that even if you read nothing else about Latin America, you should read Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America. And Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, too.

So why on earth have I moved here? Why did we leave our big, cosmopolitan Canadian city, good friends, alternative public schools, gay marriage, abortion rights and organic food? One of the reasons I started this blog is to work through this question and to document how it is all going.

It is not easy to figure out how to parent in a place so different from where I grew up. It isn't easy no matter where you are. But Macondo - both Argentina and my little town - presents me with its own quirks and challenges.

We have decided to raise our kids in Argentina because we love it here. For lots of reasons. Proximity to grandparents and cousins; less rampant consumerism and excess; closer family ties; inspiring activism; a greater sense of living in the 'real' world. I will eventually get around to writing a post that gets into all of this more seriously.

We chose this particular small town, for now, because we have close friends nearby who convinced us we would be able to enjoy a very different pace of life and also have some great professional opportunities.

So far, so good.

We have sandy streets, we're close to the beach, we have a big backyard with occasional visits from toucans and frequent visits from hummingbirds. The kids play in the river every day, and they know how to identify monkey poop in the forest. And Macondo Papa is working on a very cool community health project, while I ease my way out of maternity leave and figure things out.

But for all kinds of reasons, we will probably not stay in this particular small town for more than a few years, while the kids are small.

So, these are our 'Macondo years.' Fun fun.
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