And now, a word from Ben in Junin
It's a winter wonderland here in Junin. Jimena built the Fortress of Jimeland for the post-lunch snowball fight with Andres. She and the stuffed subjects of Jimeland have amassed a large arsenal of Weapons of Minimal Destruction and will not be easily defeated. The outcome of this conflict remains to be seen...
Last weekend we went to the mountains north and west of here and stayed in an A-frame cabana(~). We saw mountain peaks in Chile (about 5km to the west). There was about a foot of snow on the ground at the slope. Sue and Andres have cross-country skis and boots and two pairs of snowshoes. The cross-country rental boots had all been stolen over the summer, so Jimena and I used the snowshoes. The spanish word for snowshoes is quite descriptive: raquetas. I always thought the old style snowshoes looked like tennis racquets with foot straps. We got some good pictures of all of us in the snow and some really cool trees the dinosaurs used to eat (Auricaria sp.?). Andres and Jimena also rented these little plastic things called "culipatines" lit. "buttskates". I wanted one of the big round garbage can-lid-type sleds intensely at that point. "I could do that but I would freeze in the truck soaking wet for three hours." The culipatines are nothing but a plastic butt shape with a handle-loop in front and they seem to get left part-way up the hill as often as not.
After a round of antibiotics, two boxes of kleenex, gallons of hot tea and two or three cartons of what passes for juice in this country, I have basically recovered from my cold. I had a fever my last night in the city and went to the doctor with Andres about the third day I was here. I must admit I was disturbed to learn that I had placas in my garganta (sores in my throat). It is much scarier when you dont know what a placa is.