Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Good Book to Read in Chacala

A friend of mine, here in Chacala, lent me a book a few days ago. It’s called “The Perfection of the Morning”, by Sharon Butala. I am really liking it. I am re-reading sections, as I go, which is really unusual for me. It’s about a woman who moves to unfamiliar territory, where she has no friends or family except for her new husband.I don’t want to talk about the book, just some comments she made, Anyway, she says:

I had so much to learn before I could call this place home. Listening to neighbors in conversation, listening to (my husband), watching the countryside and asking questions, I began to build a fund of facts which would contribute to my eventually feeling at home. When I first arrived here I knew nothing of the history of the area, or it’s peoples, or the land. …. It is strange to live in the middle of a culture changing so abruptly. I feel to some degree removed from it……..and partly because I view everything that happens in my new community from the vantage point of somebody who was slowly and painfully learning that she would never be anything but an outsiders…. And I was still revelling in the freedom of my new life, despite the inevitable loneliness, and the real balm for the heart and sound of waking each morning to birdsong and the open sky……Instead I found solace in the extraordinary beauty of the land itself…

Maybe I like what she wrote it because it reminds me of what it has been like to start living here, in Chacala. Among strangers, with a strange language, different values, and sometimes unfathomable customs. Local and foreigners here have personal, social, and community histories about which I knew almost nothing. And very different values and ways of getting along in the world and with each other.

Her writing reminded me of my on-going struggle to find a place for myself, to learn a little of the language, the local and national history, and the social customs. And even just how to manage everyday life: getting water, gas, food, and taking care of laundry and finding medical care, and hooking up to the internet, and learning the tricks of the transportation system.And how odd it for me to be going in the opposite direction that most of the people here. While they are starting to enjoy the “benefits” of adequate income and modern goodies, I have left my car, cable TV, home, telephone, medical insurance behind. I am fine with a minimal house, and a minimal cooking area.I am going toward having less, while most people here are moving into having more, more, and more. I am glad for them and happy for me. It just feels strange sometimes.And I know how good if feels to walk up with the sun shining on my pillow, and to hear the birds singing and the dogs barking, and the waves rolling in and crashing on the beach. Sometimes I feel like I am in paradise, and occasionally like this place is too strange for me, and it's too hard to learn how to live here. But mostly it's good.
But, at the moment, I am happy. My clothes are washed, the sun is shining on my work table, and my small living space is clean and I have gas in the tank for the cooking burners. I am defrosting my little fridge, and waiting for the town water to come on so I can feel my water containers. And then water my plants.

No comments: