Monday, October 25, 2010

Senora has a pot of beans on the back burner, and I scramble eggs while people drift in from the little sheds dotting the property. Lydia and Alex sit down at the table. Karin, Marya, and Sylvia burst into the kitchen, filling it with laughter.

"Something must be funny," Lydia grumbles, pouring the thick coffee. She'll warm up about halfway through the cup, and then maybe I'll find out what she has planned.

We're like sisters--friends and rivals. She mothers me, and maybe I need it--but I tend to resent it, too. Sometimes it feels fragile, this friendship built up over the years. I guess I'm still on my guard.

But Lydia has other plans. She's going to shop for supplies, lay up a store before taking the boat. I could tag along, but today she isn't goading me.

At 3:00 we walk across town to Sven's--our contact point with the Chief. Maybe he'll have found passage for us. The little office is cramped, and Sven leans against his desk, his rough gray hair sticking crazy out from under his watch cap.

We stand quietly when Sven picks up the phone and listens. I can feel the pull of my little tin house waiting for me across the Beagle channel.

Ten spots are available!

But my name isn't on the list Sven reads.

The pull is still in my gut, but my home feels further and further away.

I end up staying in Punta Arenas all week, helping Senora, feeding the chickens, stopping at Sven's in the afternoon, meeting with a wool merchant.

"You see, " Lydia chides, "you can buy directly, instead of waiting for Reynaldo."

Reynaldo, with his speeches and his flirting, will be disappointed, but it is a savings. And now I'm ready for the season.

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