Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Siesta Blues

Cobble stone shakes the Gypsy Train as we drive down an unknown deserted street. The sun is high, we are hungry, thirsty and in need of filling our provisions for the next two days. Nothing moves, the sole sound of a dog barking echos out from behind tightly closed shutters.

I drive on in hopes that at least one store owner in the town understands the concept of capitalism. I drive, nothing moves except our empty stomachs. An eerie calm fills the air, the town is thatched down tight. I wonder if there is a tornado alert.

We pass children playing in the park, their mothers look on, a line of stores offer a beacon of hope but they too are closed. We pass an elderly lady strolling the street I slowly pull up to her.

Alaena leans out the window, “we are looking for a grocery store,” she explains. With a few hand gestures and the sense of direction finely tuned after years of afternoon strolls, we are directed to the town´s grocery store.

I pull up, park, the lights inside are off, the sign on the door indicates that the proprietor will return from his afternoon spent hidden from the light of day and open his store at 5. He will then proceed to close at 8.

I look down at my watch, it reads 3:30 we still have 200 km of dusty desert to cover, yet we have no food and will be forced to wait out Siesta. A flurry of well rehearsed swear words drain out of my mouth. Every one looks around wondering what to do.

Some people venture off to find an ATM, toilet or a hidden corner store containing sweet bites of chocolate or even better an empenada. I open my book read a few pages and fall asleep.

Time crawls on and we wait.

Slowly the town begins to come to life, a group of teenagers begin to make noise in the street. A team of electricians begin to repair a light post. Stores begin to open and the once sleepy town now seems to have life. We watch and wait in preparation for the glorious opening of the grocery store.

We watch a man dressed in white casually smoking a cigarette as he walked up to the caged doors. We salivate at the thought of spending all our Pesos on meat, cheese, pasta, veggies and cookies. He takes another drag of the cigarette, looks up to the clouds, throws his cigarette out and slowly turns the key.

Zach and Mike rush in I yell behind them, “make this fast we need to move.”
Soon the cash register is ringing as we dance out of the store chewing on snacks and sipping cold drinks.

I prepare the bus for the return of bags of food and get ready to leave. Zach comes back first, “They didn't have good meat, Mike went over to the butcher.” We pack the veggies away and wait.

Mike comes running back to the bus, I start the engine and we drive back into the desert.

Authors Note:

When we first entered Argentina we struggled to figure out the culture of Siesta, after spending months living with Siesta we have it worked out. If we need anything we go shopping for it before noon or after 4. The smaller the town or hotter the enviorment the longer the Siesta.

It could be argued that Argentines are nocturnal. They eat late, stay out dance late and go to bed even later. Siesta is their time of rest and also family time. Most people go home to eat lunch with their whole family and take a nap.

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