Last night the temperature dropped and the wind was so blowy and the trees whispered furiously as their leaves rustled against one another in the giant arch that they formed above the streets, that I knew it was fall. What’s funny about this fall is that it’s the summer of the south of Chile, all humidity and promise of rain and fresh smells and leaves blowing by and no trash at all because people are tidy or because it all got blown somewhere else. It’s almost the fall of my childhood in Brooklyn, with mottled, bark-missing trees and big crunchy leaves, and the constant punctuation of my allergic sneezes, which almost always come in fours, but sometimes in fives and sixes. And thank goodness I haven’t been to the gym lately because sneezing on top of abwork really hurts.
We’re all over sunned and over carbed with the dreaded hotel breakfast of bread with bread, and occasionally bread on the side, and every time I think I feel something shake I swear it’s an earthquake, except I’m on the wrong side of the cordillera and it doesn’t quake here, and we get to see the streaky craypas-colored sunsets over the water because we’re not on the ocean but a giant warm river the color of water that washes off your shoes after walking in the mud, because of the iron.
And it’s vacation, and it’s not really under my control and doesn’t require my interference or anything really, except that I walk and snappity snappity with the camera and try to ignore the giant roaming loudspeakers on the car top advertising they seem to favor in this otherwise practically silent town, and tell the stray dogs to once and for all, leave me alone. I tried the typical things I say in Chile: Sale! (makes no sense, the dog is already outside, and this means get out), Fuera! (also makes no sense, means get out! and we are already outside), and even Deja! (stop it, leave it), and the CHHHHHHH sound we make, and even stamping one foot. And none of it works and I have to do the universal dog-be-gone manouver, which is to crouch down and pick up a rock, which I really hate to do because I’m loathe to throw a rock at anyone or anything, even if I have been bitten by dogs twice here in South America, and threatened by many more. The dog-be-gone tactic works, but I feel sad for the gray-muzzled one-floppy ear black pooch (the other one stands upright) that was following us, and I almost want to welcome him back, but he was really getting underfoot.
And the evening ended with a long dinner and even longer sobremesa (afterdinner conversation) with some new friends that we picked up in spite of the fact that none of us are young hostel-hoppers. And we wrapped our coats and scarves and things a little tighter around ourselves and stepped along cobblestoned streets while the trees shuuussshhhhed us on. And calabaza calabaza, cada uno a su casa (and we all flew away home, lit: squash, squash, everyone goes to his house).
So yeah, Colonia, Uruguay. Relax, bundle, listen. And if you’re me, sneeze.