Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back into the swing of things

After a couple of days of uninterrupted unpacking and getting re-settled, we've jumped right back into the thick of things -- although the unpacking continues around other activities and responsibilities.

On Sunday we went to a birthday party. Our friend Magdalena turned 75! I didn't count, but I'm guessing there were over 30 there that day to help her celebrate the milestone. Here's a shot of them setting up when we arrived, some of the first ones there (being on time here means being early).
Guests kept straggling in for over an hour, some traveling quite a distance. Magdalena, or Kooky as she's called by family, has a lot of relatives! She's told us stories of growing up in a close-knit community where all the aunts and uncles lived nearby and everyone spent the weekends hanging out at the grandparents' hacienda. The sole surviving aunt and quite a few of the cousins were at the party Sunday and I found their relationship and interaction interesting. Here's a shot of the aunt and some of the female cousins chatting before the asado started:
That's Magdalena on the far right. These women represent a slice of the social strata in Argentina, from lower middle class to very well-to-do (as in, they have homes in several countries). But Sunday they were just family, and no one paid the slightest attention to where they fit in the economic hierarchy. Which is unusual in Argentina, as they tend to be rather class conscious.

The food was plentiful and quite varied -- which was also unusual; I think because Magdalena is a vegetarian (although there was grilled chicken as well). Some of the offerings were *ahem* rather different, like the cheese and fruit sandwiches: three thin slices of white bread separating a thin slice of cheese and chunks of canned pineapple and chopped maraschino cherries. Sounds weird but it was actually very good! I also tried gluten "meat" with an oil and herb dressing.
 (that's the stuff that looks sorta like spam with parsley on top)

After everyone had their fill of food, they started breaking up into groups to talk. As in cultures everywhere, the men went off to the quincho which was as far as they could get from the gaggle of women without actually leaving the yard. Women outnumbered men by at least four-to-one. It wasn't too long before half the women changed into bathing suits and headed for the pool.
It was a perfectly lovely day for the party; the rain holding off until the very end.

Ivan didn't really have an opportunity to talk privately with Julio, Magdalena's husband, but it was obvious he was upset about the death of their mutual friend, José. José was killed in an accident Thursday, when his tractor rolled over on him, but his body wasn't found until Saturday. José's wife and youngest daughter stay in Carlos Paz during the school year because they feel the schools are better here, going home to Tanti on weekends and holidays.

As you can imagine, the family is devastated. Because it was an accident the police sent the body to the morgue for an autopsy. Normally the dead are buried the very next day because they don't typically embalm the bodies, but they didn't release José's remains until late Monday. The family cannot bury (or cremate) him until the autopsy report is complete in 15 days; they're also required to keep the body in Tanti, where the accident occurred. But they held a wake in Carlos Paz Monday night. Ivan was there until 2 a.m. Over the year and a half that he's known José he's gotten to know a lot of his friends and family, so he stayed longer than he'd intended, talking with many of them.

Ivan wasn't able to leave for the wake until after 10 p.m. because he was waiting for me to finish up at Wallace Academy, the English institute in town where we help with oral exams during mid-terms and finals. Last night he helped at Wallace so I could work on unpacking, and preparing some food for today.

We're having a couple of young ladies over for merienda about 4 p.m. Maria and Mariella (sisters) have been living and working in Carlos Paz while Maria attended university in Cordoba the past four years. She just finished and they're moving back to Corrientes.

Then tonight we're having pollo asado (grilled chicken) with Tómas and Andrew. Ivan met Tómas last year when he was renting Marce's basement apartment. She introduced us to him because she knew he and Ivan share a passion for aviation. Found out in the process that his dad is a third generation missionary from England, and Ivan's been chatting with Andrew online for months. Tonight we're finally going to get to meet him.

And then Thursday is already planned, and so is Friday... Nothing like jumping right back into the swing of things!


Mari said...

Glad you are back into the routine again and getting so see all your friends there. It's also nice that Ivan could be there for his friends family. What a tragedy.
Sounds like you are really busy already! Have a good week. :)

Betty said...

Sounds like you really are jumping in for a busy start. But it will help you not to miss the US too much.
I´m sorry about Ivan´s friend and the accident. That is so tragic. But sounds very similar to things that happen here too.
It´s good to see you online again and thanks for commenting at my blog also!

The Bug said...

Wow you've been busy! I get unhappy when I have too many things planned - I guess it's a good thing I'm not a missionary!

skoots1mom said...

whoa...busy, busy, busy

so sorry for your friend's loss in such a tragic way. prayers for the family's healing / comfort

on an up note...i jumped over to this blog today...
you will want to go see her quilt work...AMAZING! ;)
my girl got home this afternoon from UA and is about to take a nap in her dad recliner...a balmy, warm afternoon here...expecting rain.
can't believer it's only 10 days to christmas...have so much to do

we may be traveling to nc for a couple of days to see ck's mom, not sure when
will share more later... :) bye 4 now

rita said...

Wow! I missed this post. You really did jump right back in and seems you came back just in time for some important events in relationship-building. More opportunities, deeper bonds.
May your strength be as your days.