A picnic at 3000 metres under the impressive Punta Negra Mountain was a good spot to watch clouds and birds and also not bad for a wallow in the chilly river after a grunt of a hike up to the snow line.
2000 metres below the picnic spot there are some small white owls living by the house. I hear them hooting and doing owl type business. Occasionally I see these very pretty birds around the grape vines, as well as a tiny fireball bird that’s red colouring is seriously fluorescent. Speaking of red…Malbec red is still my favourite drop of wine here but recently I tried a fantastic red wine called Tannat which was produced in Northern Argentina but is much more common in Uruguay. Most delicious!
This time of year the worry for the wine producers of high altitude regions like La Consulta are the occasional fast and furious hailstorms that are flung off the nearby mountains. A short 10-minute hail shower can ruin whole plantations of grapes or other fruits. Nets are used to protect some plants but the expense is too large to literally cover all crops. Two other methods are used here to battle these tempests. One is cloud busting with salt bombs via cannons or planes the other is an older technique that involves an old man climbing onto his roof and incanting some ancient spell that magically asks the icy storms to move away. I presume there is a lot of traditional praying as well to all sorts of deities.
The festive season is here I believe as there are some trees wrapped in shiny golden paper and images of baby Jesus litter or adorn many buildings. Buenos Aires will be the location of my celebrations. Fireworks are de rigueur in the Argentinean capital to lighten up the change of year. My plan is to enjoy a bottle of quality red vino and devour a slab of BBQ-ed cow with Carolina and my Dutch friend Otto, after a slow dinner I will murder myself ever so slowly with some Indonesian clove cigarettes. A cunning plan!
The past 2 months have been country living, far away from any urban chaos. Big skies, hailstorms, tractors cruising by, farm workers labouring, a pleasant lack of television and radio, fruit trees producing all sorts of treats and farm dogs barking. The dogs also operate as mobile homes for ticks and other miniature beasts. Which is actually what I do with bacterial beasts. I am a massive microbe mover, a vehicle that glides through the air and across the earth on which miniscule bugs travel. A little like a cruise ship full of tourist’s, well not really.
Off I go once again on the MV Orlova an ice strengthened ship that sails to the Falkland Is/Malvinas, South Georgia Island and then to the Antarctic Peninsula. I become a little creature on the big ocean, off to see the big white continent. Upon arrival I notice how minuscule I am. Watching the big bergs, big hills, big waves and big clouds help’s to picture the sublime and pleasantly enables me to imagine myself as less than nothing. This I wish to feel once again.