Archive for the 'Chile' Category
Tuesday, February 4, 2009
I was trolling the streets of Chiloe, a small island community that has developed in relative isolation from Chile’s string bean mainland. Boasting its own culinary traditions, architecture, handicrafts, folklore, and even farming implements, I was feeling very cultured just breathing the same air as the Chilotas. We had exited a local artisan market, the only international tourists in the bunch. As I fingered the fine wool goods, a swarm of Spanish swirling around my head, I delighted in the fact that I could stop and have a conversation with a vendor who couldn’t guess where I was from, and wasn’t (yet) jaded by gringos. For the first time in weeks, I was a novelty. We purchased goofy wool hats and made our way up the street towards a fair that was spilling out from the church’s courtyard, a wooden relic protected by UNESCO, feeling very much at the end of the world.
Then, I saw it. At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me, but after a quick double take, the telltale lime green thumbprint registered in my brain. It was the van from The Mole, my favorite reality show of all time. In fact, it’s the only show I’ve pined for, obsessively monitoring CBS’s website for upcoming auditions. Once a program focused on contestants solving intellectual puzzles in exotic locations, the show took a turn for the worse in recent years, hitting bottom with Celebrity Mole Hawaii, which included such B-list gems as Stephen Baldwin, who starred as Barney in The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas, and Kathy Griffin. I was thrilled when the show was resurrected this summer, but disappointed when it debuted as a shadow of its former self, focusing on brawns over brain.
When the green thumbprint flashed before my eyes, emblazoned on a dented slate-colored van, my first thought was, “Oh my god, The Mole is filming their next season right here on Chiloe.” Suddenly, I had been transplated from the ends of the earth to Hollywood, and I found myself frantically scanning the church courtyard for obtrusive cameras. It was perfect, I thought, noticing that a variety of different games tables had been erected in the courtyard, imagining the contestants dashing from station to station. There would be quizzes on folk tales and races in the trineo, a Chilota farming invention used to ferry through muddy fields. There were be curanto eating contests, Chiloe’s native dish, a curious mix of pork, chicken, shellfish, and potatoes. The Mole: Chiloe would be the best season yet!
Then, memory and reason took hold. Last season had been filmed in Chile. I remember because I drooled over the dramatic Patagonian scenery and frosty pisco sours as they dashed around the country in a slate-grey van with a lime green thumbprint on the door!!! Clearly, after production had ended, the van had been sold to some Chilota, who probably wondered why they were driving a vehicle that looked like it could be some sort of crime solving machine.
Just as quickly as I had been reveling at finding myself in this remote location, I suddenly wanted nothing more than to plop myself down on my couch with an evening full of reality television at my fingertips.1 comment
Editor’s note: This post was a joint writing effort between Maikael and Elizabeth, although primarily told from Maikael’s perspective.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
It’s not everyday that you get to realize a long-held dream. Nearly 10 years ago, the travel section of my Sunday paper highlighted Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The spread captivated me with stunning pictures of the larger-than-life mountainous outcrop in southern Patagonia, the article promising a wind-blown, otherworldly landscape with unique rock formations, snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and turquoise lakes. The setting, the remoteness, the harshness captured me on a deep level; I wanted to walk amongst these mountains perched on the edge of the world.
We entered the park on a charter bus, a two and a half hour ride from Puerto Natales, accompanied by an Austrian woman, Claudia, who we met at our hostel, and who would hike with us over the next three days. As we disembarked, we discovered there was another seven kilometers of service road to walk before even intercepting the “W” trail. However, when we found an enterprising company offering minibus service to the trail head for $4, we jumped at the chance. A French girl from our hostel, who can only be described as an escaped insane asylum patient cum gypsy, balked at the minibus fee, deeming it “too consumerist.” We waved enthusiastically to her as we drove off, knowing she’d spend her one day in the park hiking amongst belching diesel and rumbling engines. Ah, wilderness!
I was nervous as we neared the trail head, fearing I would be disappointed by the unrealistic expectations that 10 years of waiting had planted in my head. After dropping our bags at the refugio, we raced toward our first stop, the eponymous Torres del Paine – Towers of the Blue Sky – whose spindly spires were illuminated in the brilliant afternoon sun. We picked our way through cool forests and crystalline streams, passing throngs of hikers on the trail. The towers dipped in and out of view, teasing us with a sliver of their crowns. The crowds thinned as we neared the towers, and it was clear why: the last hour involved an exceedingly steep climb up a face of massive boulders. With unsure footing and the wind pressing at our backs, we proceeded slowly, our moods becoming increasingly sour. This better be good, seemed to be the collective thought. Suddenly, the boulders disappeared and our field of vision was crowded with the most incredible view: the towers, massive hunks of jagged rock, framed by blue skies and illuminated by the waning sun, soaring a thousand feet above us. Waterfalls crashed down to an aquamarine lake, meltoff from a snow basin. We would soon grow accustomed to this color of water, but the first encounter was shockingly novel. Claudia was right: the place had a special energy. Although the winds howled and the cold immediately settled in as the sun glided below the towers, I could only sit and take it all in. It was hard to believe that this was only the beginning.
As we worked our way up each valley of the “W” over the following days, we were rewarded with unparalleled vistas, a result of the sheer scale that characterizes this park. Everything is vast and larger-than-life, from sweeping fields of swaying grasses to mammoth glaciers, to never-ending skies, glassy blue lakes, and soaring mountains. The scenery is constantly changing, a parade of natural beauty, and we were continually struck by the park’s diversity, as rocky moonscapes gave way to verdant forests, which melted into glacial valleys.
We hiked 53 miles (88 kilometers) over five days, but 20 of those miles were logged in a single day, all in an effort to drag our aching muscles towards Valle Frances, a glacier valley of extraordinary beauty. We spent the morning hugging massive Lake Nordenskjold’s emerald shoreline, as puffy clouds cast soft shadows over the clear blue water that we still hadn’t grown accustomed to. We shrugged off our packs at a campsite, certain that a lightened load would ease the six kilometer climb. But the first ascent was brutally steep: one portion of the trail offered a fabled cable rope to assist during poor weather conditions. A powerful Patagonian wind greeted Liz and I as we reached the first viewpoint, so powerful that a gust challenged my balance and knocked me down. We took in the hugeness of Glacier Frances, an icy expanse lodged in a charcoal mountainside, and watched several avalanches over the course of minutes, as streams of snow tumbled off the hillside and bellowed through the valley.
We trudged on, escaping the fierce winds for the safety of the forest, and as the trail continued its ascent, Liz became more fatigued and eventually told me she would turn back. I can’t claim to be a good husband on that particular day; I had, after all, been waiting 10 years for this moment. I continued on without her, encouraging her to wait for me at the campsite, promising I would be quick and would meet her within minutes of her return. Now alone, I attacked the trail like an animal, grunting and sweating with effort, surely alarming the backpackers I passed like a runaway train until I reached the mirador at the end. Here I was rewarded with a 360 degree view of the valley below, surrounded by yawning rock spires, rivaling Yosemite’s. I was swept up in time, something that happens when I find myself in places of natural beauty. I lounged on my back, my arms cradling my head, and loitered some more, feeling great about life. Suddenly realizing that time had slipped by, I hurried back to Liz as fast as I could, sprinting through the deep forest. When I arrived, out of breath, I saw the sour look arranged on her face, as she pretended to read a book. “Do you know how long I’ve been waiting? Two hours!” I knew I would be in the dog house for this. “It was totally worth it,” I said, guilt intertwined with satisfaction.
When we began our trek, we had no idea that the park contained so much glacial activity. Imagine the excitement, following the trail to reach Glacier Grey on the western-most “leg” of the “W,” as the first iceberg, a turquoise sculpture of ice bobbing in milky blue Lake Grey, glides into view. You think it’s the only iceberg you’ll see, as if you’ve made a great discovery, and proceed to take 100 pictures of it, only to find bigger and better ones as the glacier comes closer into view. Then, you reach a plateau on the trail, affording the first full view of the glacier. Your jaw drops. You gasp. Audibly. Bigger than you ever imagined, it empties into the lake in three sections, like slender, icy fingers, and the glacier stretches so far back that you can’t see where it begins, its backside shrouded in a perpetual storm. The “W” unfolds like a beautiful story, the trail slowly revealing more details. By the time we reached Refugio Grey, the distant chunks of glacial ice that had been so exciting earlier in the day were replaced by the sheer glee we felt as we stumbled upon a nearby inlet with a flotilla of icebergs that you could touch from the shore.
These were long, often windy, days of discovery, and the refugios provided a much-needed respite at the end of the day. All are situated in exceptionally beautiful locations in the park, employing simple, exposed-wood construction in an alpine style. Six to eight bunk beds in each room, with communal dining tables, promoted conversation, lending to the feeling that we were, once again, at Big Kids’ Summer Camp. Being able to peel away my “stink uniform,” take a hot shower, and enjoy a proper meal was a godsend. Our favorite was Refugio Grey, winning points for its off-the-beaten path location, cool vibe, and views of icebergs drifting by during dinner. (Other refugios, located near easily-accessible park entrances, operated and felt more like anonymous hotels, with slick decor, full bars, and a more demanding and pretentious clientèle.)
It’s impossible not to meet lots of interesting people on such an epic walk, and South America attracts a certain kind of intrepid person. We ran in to Kim and Ross on the trail, an Australian-Scottish couple we had met on the bus ride into the park, and they had just gotten engaged in the Valle Frances. Kim was sporting a ring that Ross had purchased months earlier in Peru, a true South American proposal, and being out of contact with the rest of the world, we were the first ones to hear the news! We also became fast friends with Jeff and Erin after meeting at dinner at Refugio Grey, the only other American couple we’ve met traveling around the world. And nearly every other hiker you meet on the trail is from Israel. All Israelis, men and women, serve an obligatory two years in the military and receive a stipend upon completion. Almost without fail, they use this money to take a big trip to either South America or Asia, and although we had read to expect this, it was still surprising to see groups as large as 20 Israelis pass us, spouting a plume of Hebrew in their wake.
While I love meeting interesting people, I also enjoy the solitude that comes with a long walk. It affords me valuable time to think about what’s important in my life. As Liz dashed forward and spent the day excitedly talking with newfound friends, I fell back, allowing me to get lost in my thoughts. As I’ve stripped away the many layers of my life back in the States, I’ve started to remember small things that I used to enjoy, but had somehow forgotten over the course of time as my life got the better of me. I used to play and listen to music, for example, which I rarely do now. I also enjoy the idea of architecture and building. I love the outdoors. Remembering myself has been one of the true values of taking a break from my everyday life.
As we exited the trail, stinking and sore, we were welcomed by a double rainbow over a aquamarine glacier lake. No joke. It was so simultaneously cheesy and romantic, Liz and I couldn’t help but grin at each other. Torres del Paine is known for schizophrenic weather systems, but Mother Nature had been on our side for nearly a week. It provided comfortable cloud cover when exposed to the elements or hiking up the steep valleys. It gifted us swaths of blue sky when reaching impressive natural monuments. It barely rained a drop. Call it The Thomas Luck, as we do, but in every way Torres del Paine exceeded my expectations, leaving me with only best experience and memories for years to come. We raised our hiking polls overhead and formed a perfect, celebratory “W” pattern, a fitting end to our journey.4 comments
Saturday, January 31, 2009
On our fourth night in Torres del Paine National Park, as we watched hunks of iceberg drift by our refugio from the cozy dining room, we unexpectedly found ourselves in conversation with Jeff and Erin, a 30-something couple from Washington DC traveling around the world. After six months on the road, they are the first Americans we’ve met who are embarking on the same type of adventure we are, and as you can imagine, we had a ton to talk about. We spent the entire evening swapping stories, tales of woe, and travel advice in equal measure, sharing a box of El Gato red wine over rib-sticking beef stroganof (not as bad as it sounds, I promise you). The next day we walked 19 kilometers together; trudging up hills had never been so much fun, as the hours flew by deep in conversation and laughter. We took in the jaw dropping vistas of Glacier Grey in complete solitude, clapping enthusiastically as a massive chunk of sapphire ice cracked from the glacier’s face and plummeted into the lake, its firecracker crash reverberating through the valley.
“We won the day!” exclaimed Erin. Seeing a puzzled look wash across my face, she explained that she and Jeff had come up with the idea during one particularly bad day. “Even on the worst days, you have to come up with at least one thing that saves the day. And once a day is won it can’t be lost.” This was the best philosophy I’d ever heard, not just for everyday life but particularly for traveling, where bad days usually seem to grow even worse. Employing Jeff and Erin’s logic, the day has to get better. “Winning the day” is a daily reminder and practice that we should delight in life’s small moments, something that sounds easy in theory but that I struggle with constantly. I find myself beleaguered by everything that’s going wrong, the good in a situation completely obscured by the negative. That night, we celebrated finishing the “W” over calafate sours, a delicious local drink that brings to mind a grape-tinged margarita, but in my mind I toasted to winning the day.
Yesterday we learned, purely by accident, that LAN Chile delayed our flight from Peru to Bolivia by nearly thirteen hours…and never bothered to tell us. Not only would we find ourselves camping out in Lima’s airport for a full day, but all of the plans we had made for Bolivia were contingent upon our timely arrival. After trying unsuccessfully to place a call to the airlines, we finally gave up; and after four hours of sleep and an early morning flight to Puerto Montt, we spent all morning in LAN Chile’s local office attempting to fix our ticket. The end result? Bolivia will be dropped from our itinerary altogether. Of course the change requires authorization, and it being Saturday, well, the saga will continue on Monday in another office.
“We have to win the day,” I said to Maikael, as we made our way towards the bus station to catch a four-hour ride to Chiloe. After settling ourselves in our seats, two young men, toting a small band of wooden instruments, bounded on the bus. They crowded the aisle, tentatively plucking a few strings, when the conductor gave them a pointed look that said, “Don’t play those things on here.” As soon as the bus roared to life, the door between driver and passengers safely sealed, the duo began playing a boisterous tune. One guy strummed his small guitar while the other whistled on a rustic flute, and soon they were singing in harmony. Normally these spontaneous performances annoy me, but they were really good. I found myself grinning stupidly, and when they offered their CD for 500 pesos – about 75 cents – I snatched up a copy, as did most of the bus. I studied the CD cover, a crude black and white photocopy, announcing the group as Hijos del Sol: Sons of the Sun. “My day’s been won,” I announced to Maikael.1 comment
Friday, January 23, 2009
“You are crazy. Let me say this with more gusto: C-R-A-Z-Y,” wrote my friend Cybele, and I agreed completely. The last time I set off on a multi-day journey into the wilderness I was gripped with fear and doubt, and Cybele confirmed that I had lost my mind by attempting New Zealand’s Milford Track. But having survived – dare I say, even enjoyed – the experience, I was ready to do it again. Now that’s what’s really C-R-A-Z-Y.
Tomorrow we set off for Torres del Paine National Park to hike the famed “W” circuit, so named for the shape of the trail, an anticipated highlight of our trip to South America. In fact, it’s what got us dreaming about visiting the continent nearly 10 years ago. I’ll never forget the dusty pink spires splashed across the front page of the Seattle Times’ travel section one Sunday, looking like some wind-swept no man’s land. They looked like the kind of mountains that Froddo struggled up on his way to Mordor. “Where’s that?” I asked Maikael. I couldn’t believe it when he responded, “South America,” a place I had always associated with steamy jungles and crushing heat. More than any place I had ever seen, it looked like the ends of the earth, and I found it impossible to believe that, not only could you visit those ragged peaks, but you could climb amongst them. We wanted to go there. Badly. As our bus idled at the Chilean border crossing yesterday, those same craggy spires looming in the distance, it was hard to believe we were finally here.
To prepare for our big adventure, our hostel, Erratic Rock, hosts a daily information session. Run by two guys from Oregon, Rustyn, one half of the duo, gave an engaging talk about the ins and outs of hiking the W, from how to get to the park to what to pack (and more importantly, what to leave at home). He often leads guided hikes into the parks for “richies,” people looking for comfortable, short stints into the wilderness. “But they’re tourists, not trekkers, and there’s a difference. They’ll walk an hour in, stop for a beer, give themselves a high five, and walk right back out.” I wanted to be a hiker.
In Patagonia, the wind is fierce. Rustyn reported gusts that can lift a grown man off the ground and deposit him in another location; holding on to one’s tent can quickly become akin to flying a kite. That’s how crazy the wind is. Still, despite the area’s notoriously intense weather, there is no special gear required. Rustyn is a proponent of adopting “the stink uniform,” consisting of one quick-dry top and pair of pants that will be our outfit for the next six days. At nights we get to change into comfy, dry pants, shirts, and socks. That’s it: no special Goretex or super dooper shoes. “Some Australians hike it in flip flops,” he assured us.
This experience will be different from hiking the Milford Track in many ways. While we’ll be out on the trail for six days, as opposed to Milford’s four, our accommodations will be deluxe in comparison. A series of refugios, which are souped up dorms, boast equipment rentals, full meal services, hot showers, and swanky bars. This was a major selling point for me, as we will have to pack very little into the park, making the load light and the walking all the easier. Hikers have an option to camp instead of staying at the refugios, the latter being a considerably more expensive option, but did I mention the hot showers and full meals? And we won’t be following the same path as we did on the Milford Track, meaning we probably won’t share the same sense of camaraderie with our fellow hikers. But did I mention the full bar?
I haven’t gotten cold feet. In fact, I’m a lot less nervous than when I started the Milford Track. Rustyn assured us that completing the W equals a lifetime of street cred in the hiking world. Even if we do enjoy a glass of wine every evening. And did I mention the hot showers?
We’ll be back to civilization the evening of January 29th!4 comments
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The New York Times features a travel column called “24 Hours in (insert name of major international city here),” which I always thought was a ridiculous idea. How, I wondered, could you even begin to get a flavor for a city in a mere 24 hour period? But we had only 24 hours to see Santiago de Chile, the country’s capital city, and I was going to put the New York Times’ theory to the test. As it turns out, they might be on to something.
We arrived late yesterday afternoon, soaring over the Andes Mountains, as dusty brown hills gave way to jagged, snow-capped peaks, even in the height of summer. Santiago sits cradled in a giant bowl, hugged snugly by the imposing Andes. After dropping our bags at our Providencia neighborhood digs, we made our way to dinner at Pizzeria Nostra, a 30-year tradition in Santiago. We munched on pizza that would make Napoli proud, accompanied by fresh frutilla, Chile’s answer to fresh strawberry juice. When I thanked the waiter, he demurred. “No, thank you,” providing what an affable, modest, and polite bunch the Chileans are. As we crawled through the nighttime streets, we noticed a group of giggling girls, dressed like little fairies, having just come from a school Christmas pageant, and women chatting on cell phones on park benches: this was obviously a safe city. We marveled at how light and orderly the traffic was, feeling more like Europe than Latin America.
In the morning we made our way towards Bellavista, Santiago’s bohemian enclave, where the buildings are slathered in colorful murals. As we crossed a street, three perky cheerleaders dashed out into traffic, quickly clapping their hands three times like cheerleaders do, and promptly began performing aerial tricks in the crosswalk. The idling drivers, waiting for the traffic light to change, craned their necks out of the car windows. Just before the light turned green, the cheerleaders dashed between cars collecting donations; it was the most jovial and inspired bit of entrepreneurship that I’d seen in a long time.
The fun continued at La Chascona, one of Pablo Neruda’s notoriously zany houses. Although I knew little of Chile’s most celebrated poet, I had read that his houses were a love song to kitsch, and I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. Perched on the hill above Bellavista, La Chascona, named for the famously unruly locks of his third wife, didn’t disappoint. Each of his three houses was built to reflect his fascination with ships, and each is filled with his staggering collections. He collected everything: bottles, colored glass, maritime objects, hand-shaped door knockers, dolls, salt and pepper shakers, Blue Willow china, paintings featuring watermelons. What he chose to collect didn’t have much rhyme or reason, and nothing was of particular value (he believed the best way to understand a place was to visit their flea markets). He simply collected what he liked, with little regard as to whether it made sense or “went together” from a design standpoint, and I found this to be completely admirable. Each room was a fascinating hodge podge of things that shouldn’t have worked together, but somehow did (my favorite part was the dining room table set with Blue Willow china and chunky waterglasses in primary colors). I can only guess it worked because it was a reflection of him and what he loved best, and it made me wonder what the world would look like if we simply decorated ourselves and our homes with the things we loved. Indeed, if our lives were guided by what felt right, and not what we thought we should do or be.
Feeling philosophical, we made our way further downtown towards Santiago’s most iconic sights. We stopped in at The Clinic, a small retail shop named for the satirical newspaper bearing the same name. My Lonely Planet states, “This is where you get your T-shirt with Pinochet’s mugshot!” Although it was tempting, we skipped over the T-shirts and headed to El Palacio de la Moneda, the site of the 1973 coup that heralded the beginning of Chile’s revolution. Mammoth Chilean flags flapped in the breeze in front of the refurbished palace, having been closed during the entire course of the dictatorship and reopened in 2000. The site of one of modern history’s bloodiest coups now plays host to sunny military men dressed in their Sunday best and a courtyard displaying modern art. It was hard to believe what had taken place there less than 40 years ago; clearly, Chile was ready to shake off its past and move on to better times.
We walked around the central area of town, a mix of classic architecture and skyscrapers, a reminder of Santiago’s place as a Latin American trading center. Passing by a large cathedral, scores of women sat outside reading tarot cards at rickety folding tables; I have always been fascinated with the mix of the occult and Catholicism that seems to play a role in Latin America spirituality. In need of a rejuvenation, we ducked into Bar Nacional, a bustling place sent from a bygone era. Waiters clad in black vests and bow ties dashed around the restaurant, while a man dressed as a soda jerk lorded over an old fashioned soda counter brimming with fresh fruit. Like a bartender, his sole responsibility at this establishment was to whip up cold, frothy jugos naturales, which are hands down one of the best parts of traveling in Latin America.
As we wandered the tidy streets, we stumbled upon a Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition below the Palacio de la Moneda, the former being my favorite artist. We were able to take in some of her greatest paintings for less than two dollars. And just when I had begun to think that Santiago was a mini European city, an obnoxiously loud (and bad) garage band began throbbing from a nearby stage, its sound promptly cutting out within 30 seconds, reminding me that we were in Latin America.
That evening we enjoyed a great meal at the quirky Ligurgia, whose walls were crammed with vintage paintings, posters, and memorabilia. A pitcher of borgona was produced, Chile’s answer to sangria, an infusion of wine and frutilla. Unlike Spain, we enjoyed a gigantic pitcher for less than $10.
This was my kind of city – even if I only had 24 hours to enjoy it.2 comments
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I realized today, in a panic, that one of my prescriptions would run out a month early, and I needed to place a call to my local Walgreen’s pharmacy to sort things out. (In the end, this will mean that a friend will need to pick it up at the pharmacy, mail it to my mother-in-law in Laredo, Texas, which will then be airmailed to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where it will then be hand-delivered to me when said mother-in-law meets us is in Bolivia in February.) I hadn’t made a phone call to New Mexico since September, when we were in Jordan and needed to request our absentee ballots in the dead of the night, given the time zone change. I was greeted by a county clerk with that distinct Northern New Mexican accent, and I wanted to exclaim, “Guess where I’m at? I’m in Amman!” This phone call felt big to me – I had made special arrangements to place the call – but to the county clerk I was just another caller. It seemed strange to be having such an ordinary conversation when the listener didn’t know how far away I was.
Today I trekked to the local Internet cafe, a run-down place with a mammoth flat-panel monitor that screams ADD compilations of music videos from the 1980s that I’ve never even seen (Phil Collins is especially popular). I bellied up to a computer and placed the headphones on my ears to make my call through Skype, a Web-based program that allows us to call the US for two cents per minute. I was walked through a phone tree and promptly placed on hold (I was disappointed to learn that there was no special bypass code for international calls). It was then that the strains of a familiar song blasted through my eardrums. At first I couldn’t place it, but slowly it sank in. It was I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus — you know, the Michael Jackson version, back when he was a cute little kid? It was so out of context that at first I didn’t recognize this most popular of Christmas ditties. Then I couldn’t figure out why the song was playing now. I was completely disoriented; it was the auditory equivalent of being blindfolded and turned around for a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. It suddenly dawned on me that Christmas is just days away. Except for the lone Christmas tree in the courtyard of the Chilean Aramada’s headquarters on Easter Island, a strange looking pine tree that I’ve only seen near beaches, there have been few signs of Christmas. Calling the United States from one of the most remote corners of the globe, to do something as mundane as placing a prescription refill, just felt unreal. I realized how out of touch and disconnected I am from what is going on back at home – even something as all-encompassing as Christmas.
This overwhelming feeling of disorientation probably explains the dreams I’ve been having lately. Since I arrived on Easter Island I’ve been treated to nighttime dramas that would make an LSD addict proud. Most of them involve Maikael and I making an unexpected trip home to pay visits to friends. We show up on doorsteps, expecting to be welcomed with open arms, but find our hosts wholly unprepared to receive us. The Island is known for having some intense energy, and I figured that my dreams were probably a product of Rapa Nui’s ancestors worming their way into my brain. As interesting as that sounds, I think it probably has more to do with my own insecurities about returning home; as we enter the last phase of this trip, I’m sure my subconscious is working overtime. In one of the dreams President-elect Obama was giving a televised speech on the television that played constantly in the background, undoubtedly a symbol of change in the dream. This trip has changed me, and I know my life will be different when I return; I think I’m afraid that I won’t “fit” into that life anymore, that the space that once contained me has been filled in and there will no longer be “room” for me. In another dream food was served, and our unexpected visit meant there wasn’t enough to go around. Perhaps I fear that my life back home won’t “nourish” me? Whatever the reason, it’s clear I’m feeling out of sorts with my place in the world these days. Despite the fact that we are the closest to home that we’ve been since we left last July – we are practically due south of Albuquerque at this moment – that life couldn’t feel farther away.1 comment