Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Home again, home again, jiggedy jig!

I got back from Buenos Aires last Sunday, after a 24 hour journey during which I catnapped for about half an hour or so, sustained during the rest of the time by Isabel Allende's new novel for the most part, and a couple of toothpicks for my eyelids. 

I tried not to think about how cramped I felt, that there were x number of hours to go over an empty ocean, and the passenger in the seat next to me was a strapping lad in his twenties with an outsize bladder and an astonishing capacity for deep slumber, with head draped over the back of the seat and mouth open like one of Stephen Hawking's black holes.  The only way he fitted into his seat was to spread his knees either side of the seat in front, so naturally I was lucky enough to play host to one of them.  The couple in front reclined their seats as far as they could, so I found myself playing relaxation games involving deep breathing so as not to give way to screaming at the three of them to run away and die.

However I'm grateful for the competence of my Spanish airline pilots (as I said to the handsome Qantas cockpit crew who were hovering on the fringes of the security queue at Ezeiza airport when they thanked me for letting them go before me and said how 'nice' of me it was, "I'd be even nicer if you were from Iberia, so I could ask you to get me home safely").

I had a wonderful three weeks, with hardly time to draw breath, much less to sleep in or have more than the odd hour alone, but I discovered a side to myself I never knew existed.  With the help of a prepared PowerPoint presentation, I did my best to sell the idea that the book about Patagonia which I've been translating into Spanish in my spare time over the past two years is worth publishing because it's part of local heritage and social history during World War I and the twenties. 

Of course I was not alone - it was a joint effort with Ramón Minieri, who would start the presentation by talking about the background to the British sheep farming industry in Patagonia of the time, about which he has written a book, and all wrapped up and introduced by Carlos Espinosa, journalist and writer, whose whole idea this was.  In the photograph below, taken by Carlos, is also another much respected writer I was lucky enough to meet, Don Elías Chucair, one of the kindest and gentlest hosts I've ever known.

Poet/author/historian Ramón Minieri, myself and
Don Elías Chucair, author/poet/raconteur,
 in his study at his house in Ingeniero Jacobacci,
Province of Río Negro, Argentina, November 2009

I'll carry on next time - there's lots to tell, and I took 800 photos - no don't worry, most of them are probably crap anyway. 

Weight wise it's not as bad as it might have been:  I had an unfill before leaving because I couldn't cope with restriction when I had so many challenges to face, but I realised there would be a price to pay.  I was tempted by the wonderful foods of my youth - barbeques, steak, beef schnitzel, deep fried spicy beef pasties, and the most stunning selections of freshly made icecreams you could hope to find - all available in every village and town.  The result was that I gained half a stone, or 7 lbs, or 3 kilos - not as much as expected.  Tomorrow I'm going to Taunton to be filled - not sure how much yet - because I'm happy to go back to the routine of losing weight and gaining hope once again.

Nighty night.

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