We’re taking the Patagonian plunge

In spite of my best intentions I’ve struggled to update my blog lately. There’s much news to share, but little time — so I’ll just give you the big headline: After much soul-searching, Esteban and I have decided to move to Patagonia.

Esteban has been fascinated with Patagonia since 1998, when my parents gave him a penguin-wool sweater. (Warmer, softer, and 100 times more rare than cashmere, penguin-wool comes from the downy undercoat the Magellanic penguins molt in the summer. If you’ve never heard of a penguin-wool sweater, it’s probably because the tiny tumbleweed-like tufts must be gathered by hand, and an entire harvest yields only enough yarn to knit three or four sweaters.)

Esteban sweater 1030560 BLOG
Yes, Esteban’s penguin-wool sweater is five sizes too small.

Anyway … we talked for years about moving to Patagonia, but always ran into that most practical of questions: “How will we make a living?”

The answer came to us a few weeks ago, when we learned that the founder of the Escuela Patagónica para el Desarollo de la Actuación a Base de Objetos Imaginados y Gestos Graciosos (Patagonian School for the Development of Acting Based on Imaginary Objects and Funny Gestures) would be retiring this summer. “I used to be a mime,” I told Esteban, “and you’re a wonderful administrator. We can TOTALLY run this mime school!”

Mime shame BLOG
It’s true — I used to be a mime! (The antibiotics worked, though, and thankfully I got better.)

“I don’t know,” Esteban said, with uncharacteristic doubt. “What about the language barrier?”

“That’s the brilliant thing,” I shot back. “It’s mime. We won’t need to say a word.”

To make a long story short, we’re taking the Patagonian plunge.

It won’t be easy, of course. We’ll miss our friends. Minnesota has been good to us, and we’ve built a wonderful life here. Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to living in a place that’s even more bitter and barren — a place where you don’t have to go outside to get frostbite.

But do you want to hear the best part? We’ll be moving into the abandoned whaling/research station not far from Beagle Channel, so we’ll have plenty of room for guests. I do hope you’ll be able to join us, and perhaps help us celebrate our first penguin-wool harvest.

It needs a new roof, but the view is spectacular. Images by Jan Erik Waider.


In the meantime, we wish you and yours a wonderful and happy April Fools’ Day.


    • This is all Mark Wolleman’s fault, you know. (It was really hard to think of someplace even more remote than the mountains of Bulgaria!) 🙂

  1. Hahaha – this was great! You seriously had me going there. My mouth slowly dropped open when I saw the image of the ‘abandoned whaling station’ that you both were supposedly moving into. Good going and a double good read 🙂

    • I’m so glad you got a laugh out of it, Sóla! At least a couple of my friends thought I was serious and were hurt that I’d move to Patagonia without consulting them first. 🙂

    • You’re into breeding penguins too, now, eh? Well, I’d be happy to inquire on your behalf at the local zoo! I’m sure they’d give me at least a couple of penguin eggs if I promised not to make omelettes. 😉

        • That’s incredible! Somehow in the spirit of April Fool’s Day i thought you were joking … but I’m delighted to find otherwise. What an adorable story. Thank you so much for brightening my day with it (although I’m going to be thinking for the rest of the day about how on earth Lala managed to swallow that *enormous* fish whole!).

          • I hope this does not come as a big disappointment, but actually I was as serious about it as you were regarding your plans to move to Patagonia. Of course first I did not realize that you were joking – until I got to the sweater part of the post (still chuckling, because I also read the post were it showed up first). But it is definitely no joke that I genuinely like penguins. If wanting to breed them, one does not necessarily need to build a huge fridge to keep them happy. Not if you breed jackasses

            After this overdose of penguin knowledge (maybe it will come in handy one day, who knows) I’ll leave you to all the packing you undoubtedly still have to do…..

            (P.S: yes, I wondered about this huge fish too. To think that sometimes I find it a bit difficult to get bigger sized capsules down.)

          • Ah! This certainly adds a bit of context to that previous message of yours. 😉

          • Thank you for all the penguin knowledge! I don’t think it’s an overdose at all — and knowing more about these fascinating little creatures is a reward all its own. (Plus, how many people can say that they know a penguin breeder? That’s WAY cool … 🙂

    • You’re welcome to visit us ANYTIME, Alberto! (Speaking of which … when do we get to see you? I think three Bastille Days have passed since our last meeting. 🙂

    • I’ve heard is said that whatever brings us laughter reveals a deep truth about us, Pollyanna … so maybe this is a sign that we should collaborate and open an actual PSDABIO? Or perhaps an ASDABIO instead — since you already have a foothold in Australia? 🙂 xoxo

  2. I TOTALLY believed it till you read the other comments!! and even when I saw the picture of that house, had some doubts, but still believed it!!

    • I hope you weren’t *too* worried about my sanity, Dina! (I’m not sure what it says about me, but a couple of friends just shrugged and said, “It totally sounded like something you’d do.”) 🙂

      • ohh no not worried about your sanity – but just like to keep an open mind which sometimes can get be into trouble 🙂 great post

        • Ah, Dina … my open mind gets me into trouble too! I’ve gotten a little bit less gullible in my old age, but I still seem to fall for hard-luck stories — and April Fool jokes. 🙂

  3. Just happened to be watching a documentary about Antarctica last night..so as you discussed how the penguin feathers were collected, all I wondered was “how do they remove all of that penguin poop?” Then when you mentioned the mime school..my only thought was..wow-is your mother on board with this? I went with it though until I saw the house..and having just remodeled the downstairs in our place I finally realized this was a hoax.. So… I can imagine wearing a poopy penguin sweater, teaching at a mime school and no sun ever.. but I CANNOT imagine fixing up a house with no roof. – what does that say ???

    • Oh, Cindy … hahahaa! You crack me up, lady. 🙂 I think the fact that you can imagine everything but the roofless house says (a) you’re open-minded, (b) you have a reliable washing machine, and (c) you’ve done enough remodeling in your day to know your limits! And I’m right there with you: I could probably deal with a bit of penguin poop, and I actually have run away with a mime troupe (!!). But turning that shell of a building into a home? Nope. Just … no.

    • I snorted out loud when I read your comment. Not a ladylike kind of demure little snort — no, siree. A snort that screamed “I should by all rights be spewing milk out my nose like a fire hose.” Well, thank you for that. And for the fact that now there will be two of us obsessed with how to shear a penguin! (I’m tempted to Google it, but I’m a bit terrified of what such a search may yield …)

    • Haha! That’s the beauty of being a writer: You can be as brave as you want — on paper. 🙂 Thank you for your kind comment!

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