WATCHING THIS SHORT FILM triggered two memories of a big country:
1) Carey and I are sitting in Antonio’s kitchen. His wife is serving tostadas, and his kids are doing a good job of being polite to the unexpected Americans. We were supposed to be 40km south of here right now, in Lago Rosario, meeting with one of the last remaining speakers of the local Mapudungun dialect. Antonio’s engine died on an uphill on Ruta 259, and we had to call for a tow back to Esquel.
“Sometimes we find these tropical turtles crawling on the road here,” Antonio is saying. Esquel’s horizons are cut by sharp and snowy mountains. The image of a turtle on Ruta 259 is humorous. “The trucks, they drive from the northern border all the way down here, or farther to Santa Cruz. It’s jungle up there, and the turtles get in with the cargo.” He pauses till castellano comprehension is assured, then wraps up his point neatly: “Argentina is big.”
2) We’re in a taxi with friends, heading for Parque Centenario. There’s a klezmer concert in the little amphitheater tonight. Ziv holds an Israeli passport and loves pork belly. Outside the taxi, we see a group of Orthodox Jews waiting for a bus.
We turn onto Calle Palestina. Ziv points it out and laughs. “There’s an Estado de Israel street too, and they intersect just up here. Coincidence?”