I was humming a little song out in the garden this morning as I was putting in bedding plants with the enthuseastic assistance of some of the neighbourhood kids;-
“… and my desire is to have you near, Lord you know that you are welcome here… “

and the internal voice said “Really? What if I appeared as a bunch of grubby nine year olds talking incessant rubbish and spreading mud across the patio?”

Which reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend here the other day, who said “Evangelicals never tell so many lies as when they are singing”. Which caused me to smile ironically.

As for the kids, they’re fine really, we do encourage them to come, and we like the fact that they feel free to make themselves at home in our house. But there are moments when…

Walking in the fields

The area around San Francisco reminds me quite a lot of South East England; understated, and under-rated. It would never figure in the seven most spectacular sights of the world, or even in the seven hundred, but it does have a quiet charm of its own which is worth stopping to appreciate.
Today it rained, so I took Joni out for a lesson on splashing in the puddles. He’s a fast learner, I may live to regret that bright idea. These photos are from the other day on our favourite walk. It takes about an hour and a half; or two if you keep stopping to take photos and talk to the horses…

Go down to the football pitches, and turn right into the lane;
dirt track
Trees and football pitches give way to fields which held winter barley, recently harvested;
cut barley fields
Watch out for bird life; from big birds of prey (Carancho), to the flycatchers with their long scissor-tails, and even tiny humming birds. Ever tried to get a photo of a humming bird? I haven’t succeeded yet, it’s jolly not easy, especially with such willing assistants as Joni and the dog.

Bird of prey in flightScissor tailed fly catcher

Carry on up the lane to the horses field. Horses still play an important part in Argentinean life, both for work and play. At one end of society, the polo world cup is no longer played because Argentina won it too many times; and a proportion of the illegal drugs sold for human consumption start life as illegal imports for doping race-horses. At the other end of the scale, it is quite common to see ragged, moth eaten, knock-kneed beasts moving builders rubble, or pulling carts with entire families and their belongings. There doesn’t seem to be a great understanding that looking after ones animals might make them last a bit longer. However, our horses here are neither ill-treated nags nor ill-treated race-horses, but somebody’s pride and joy, well groomed and gentle, they quite often come to the fence and let Joni stroke their noses;

horses in the field

Turn right past the farm, and go down another lane. Notice the owls on the fence posts, they’re nearly always there on the same posts. Sometimes they even stay put and let us walk right past them;

Owl on fence-post

Keep on till the point where the tracks cross. Watch the field flatten out, and the sky open up;

big sky

At the crossing point turn right. Pass the “vivero” (nursery, of the plant-rearing variety, we’ve been enjoying buying things here) Beyond the vivero, the barley gives way to two big fields of yellow sunflowers, which the parrots are loving at the moment;


Stop to look (point / wave / say “moo” at) the cows and chickens in the farm-yard, and then head up the road for home. With any luck it might even be time for a mid-morning coffee.


Joni standingJoni standingJoni steppingBig grown up baby becomes a toddler; Joni took his first independent steps at the end of last week. He is rather pleased with his new trick which is rapidly developing from “party piece to impress the neighbours” to “useful means of locomotion”. It is quite a performance; he pulls himself to his feet, grins around to make sure that everyone is watching, gives himself a little round of applause, and then sets off in an optimistic stagger.

Meanwhile, Mummy and Daddy are learning that not all silence is golden. Yesterday when it went ominously quiet, we found he had been busy unpacking the bags of fruit and veg shopping from underneath his pushchair, and he was located sitting on the floor surrounded by fruit, thoughtfully munching on a peach, which looked like he had probably sat on it first.


Still no internet at home. Starting to feel rather like Robinson Crusoe carving notches in a stick and sending smoke signals to passing ships.
First we were tourists, then we were precarious residents, and then we were temporary residents, and now we are “precarious permanent” residents, which sounds like a contradiction in terms (“BT helpline” etc). I think that means we have made progress. We managed to escape being sent to take our fingerprints and photos yet again. I said we had already done those quite a few times, and she said “Oh have you been here before then?”, so then she went and dug out the file six inches high with all the zillion photocopies of our birth certificates, photos etc which we have presented on previous occasions. I think we can safely conclude that no-one ever looks at any of it.

We spent the weekend simultaneously at a funeral (they’re two day events here) and a church conference, as well as hosting two families who had come from Cordoba for the church thing. It felt a bit like the restaurant sequence in “Mrs Doubtfire” attempting to slip seamlessly from one to the other so that no-one missed us from the important bits of either.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the prison together with another lady from church. Someone else from the church said “I really feel it is the will of God that you shouldn’t go”. So I said “that’s interesting why do you say that”. And she said “they look up your bottom I went once I didn’t like it”. One day we might have to unpack the intriguing theology that says if it didn’t give me a warm fuzzy, it can’t be the will of God. Needless to say we went, and survived to tell the tale.

Joni is learning about animals, we see cows, chickens, horses, sheep, goats, and lots of stray dogs when we go out and about. He gets very excited about spotting animals in pictures or on TV. In fact he has seen so many cows that when we saw the statue of a horse and rider in the San Francisco central plaza (San Martin I would think) he pointed up to it and started mooing like a cow, which entertained the public at least.

Stop press… we now have internet at home as of just now. It too is a little precarious, but Martin has his technical guru’s hat on, so we should be fully up and running any time soon.