Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Solstice

Normally, I'd call this the Winter Solstice, but since I'm south of the equator, I should probably refer to it as the Summer Solstice. Originally, I expected to be at or near Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina around this time. But I'm more than a month away.

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Tonight, crowds had gathered in the Plaza de Armas to watch a football match on big screen. (Any other TV screen in town was similarly swarmed.) When I was kicked out of "MundoNet" at 10:45, the game was just ending and people were streaming away in all directions.

This plaza gets a remarkable amount of use. Almost daily, there are rallies, parades, concerts or ceremonies. Sometimes, a variety of events in a single day. Plenty of military displays. The other day, troops marched by in full battle dress, many wearing gas masks, bearing rifles with bayonets, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers. I see it as silly child's play. Unfortunately, there are many who take it very seriously.

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Started the day at "MundoNet" as soon as they opened their doors. After an hour, adjourned to "Jack's" for some of those great pancakes. Talked with one of the partners, congratulating him for putting together a refreshingly well-run business.

Gray skies today. It's difficult to tell if this portends any long-term change in the weather. It seems so unpredictable up here. Walking across the Plaza, I caught the fragrance of petunias. It was one of the few clear connections I've had to a particular season lately (as, at home, these flowers would be out in late spring and early summer.) This trip has been strangely "seasonless."

Moved to "Trotamundo’s", where I stayed until 4:00, working on the blog and catching up on news ("Democracy Now!").

I wanted to get the bike put back together before dark, so I hurried back to the parking lot to work on it. The metal tab that I had epoxied yesterday snapped as I pushed the front fender into place. I put it all back together nevertheless. Hopefully, the piece wasn't that significant!

Paid off my hotel bill, 100 Soles ($34.00) for five days. I plan to get on the road tomorrow!

In an effort to leave town with the blog up-to-date (to the extent that's possible), I worked at "MundoNet" until 10:30, when they again threw me out. (I'm like a bad habit!)

Before turning in for the evening, I stopped at one of the many street vendors, and ordered a chorizo sandwich ($1). They cook it up in front of you, literally throwing onto the grill sliced chorizo, onions, cabbage, tomatoes (and french fries, if you want), then stuffing it all into a big hamburger bun. Squirt on the desired condiments, and you're set. It takes about a minute, two maximum.

***

Cathie wrote to advise me that the Senate today defeated yet another measure that would authorize oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I wrote a personal message to Senators Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski asking them to give up their outrageous efforts to line the pockets of a few well-placed friends, at the expense of our nation's natural legacy. Stevens, who has pressed this issue for 25 years, is one person whose passing I may quietly celebrate.

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