Friday, June 12, 2009

My Brothers Would Love This. June 2009

[Note: From now on, my posts will be written offline, and when I get to an internet, I will post them. So the the post times will not reflect the actual dates or time frames. If I remember to do so, and I know the date, I will include it]

The boat trip on the way home from Puerto Montt to Chaiten this time was an older boat. Not the Don Baldo, and a bit rougher feeling. Sturdy, and grumbling yet warm, and sufficient. I thought that "my brothers would love this", as I stood on the deck looking out at the spotty lights of small towns and villages on Isla Chiloe. In fact, they would love this whole trip. The buses, the hospadajes, the long hours to kill before the next leg of the journey south. The food, the streets, and this boat. We rumble and rock a little from side to side as Fast and Furious plays on the flat screen TV, and a young mother chases her little boy down the isle. Outside, and down below, the tough guys sit on sacks of onions and potatos, flicking cigarettes in the icy wind. The moon is up, and a few stars. We have 11 (?) hours to go on this leg of the journey.

We will arrive in Chaiten around seven in the morning. I hope it is clear, but not likely. Arriving there, even now after the volcano, is spectacular. This...this is arriving in Patagonia. The mountains don't wait 20 or 50 or 100 kilometers inland to rise up. They just scream up right there in the harbour. They don't even wait for the land. Giant mountain tips rip up from "el mar", covered with nalca and ferns and screeching seabirds. Approaching Chaiten does not look so different as before until just as you slow into the port. A ghost town. You don't really see yet that it is different, but you sense that something isn't right. I am including a few pictures of the volcano as we approach Chaiten at sunrise.

Anyway, my brothers would love this humming ship. The old varnish. The tall-tank toilets. On deck the coils of rope thicker than a man's bicept, and ages of oil paint on pitted iron. Slipping by, the dark nubs of islands and distant mountains under moonshine. Tonight, on this long leg of the journey, I couldn't find an outlet for the computer in the passenger area. But...after everyone was asleep, and I snuck out for a little nightcap on the deck, and a quick bathroom break, and is a picture of my overnight office for writing this blog.

Sometimes I don't think my brothers "get" what my life is, and why I'm doing it. But other times certain snapshots of life here grab me and I think, "they would LOVE this". What I mean is that, as opposed to seeing the "Worst Hospadaje" (which is the next post...looking back at this recent trip) and agreeing...they would stay there, as I did. Twice. Because it's all about the experience. How you choose to file it away. What you make of it in the moment. Sometimes it's the kind of experience you need to leave right out there to relish...raw...even if it's not a good one, or the best. It just is what it is.

So, the boat rumbles. Everyone is inside in the passenger area, snoring, shifting, dreaming. And here I am in the bathroom outside, my computer plugged in, enjoying the ride. And thinking how much my brothers would love this experience. And at this point in time...if they were here...they would have no freaking idea how wild it gets once we hit Chaiten!

I am also thinking that anyone traveling to Chile would be poorly advised to fly from Santiago anywhere. You miss ALL OF THIS! You miss the Austral, you miss the ships and the sea and the seaports. You miss the smarmy hostels and the road food and the people. You miss the lovely land, the wild waters. The people who do this all the time. People who take one day at a time, catch what bits of life they can, and when they can. The old guys sitting on the sacks of onions, listening to the scratchy radio transmission of Chile vs. Ecuador. A cheer goes up as Chile scores goal one, and two and three. They pass a cigarette and pull their hats down and their scarves tighter. And that's good enough.

Again, that's what makes me think my brothers would love this. We've become parted by politics and ideologies. We've become estranged a bit by degrees of humor. But the one thing that I know, is that our childhood instilled in us a crazy love of adventure and the absurd. That's why, tonight, sitting in a ships bathroom, writing this, I know that my brothers would love this! Now, I'm done. I will close the door to the passing sea, and go pee. Then, if I'm lucky, I will wake up arriving at an exploding volcano, and continue on to Futalandia.

Below: A few photos of Chaiten this week:


Jeff said...

I have to believe your brothers would see the irony in you simultaneously taking a dump, writing on the PC, and looking out over an untamed world from the open door of a bathroom on a supply ship on the other end of the world. We are completely jealous and envious in a loving way of your adventure. We don’t even need the blogs and pictures to know and sense and imagine what you are experiencing. Knowing that you are not here and knowing how you live your life lets us know that you are always on an adventure. You are getting to experience things very few of the worlds 7 Billion (Est?) people experience. The many locals that experience what you are seeing don’t have the perspective of the other side! As you said, "They pass a cigarette and pull their hats down and their scarves tighter. And that's good enough." Without true knowledge of the other side, it's all good! With knowledge of the other side, it's even more that that, it is truly incredible. Like our childhood, ignorance was and still is bliss… we didn’t know the other side, the other side was just something to be imagined. When we got older, the other side was revealed and once again, it was still incredible (although there is still a health dose "I cant believe were weren't killed")!

We are not sure if the envy of your lifestyle is because we don’t have the balls to follow or because we are so structured and invested in the wonderful lives we have made that we couldn’t even if we wanted to. I do know our wonderment probably stems in our knowledge of both sides. Its funny about things with two sides, be it perspectives of the world and how you live, views on politics, or ones perceptions as to why siblings quit talking. Two sides always have a common thread somewhere in the middle and they seem to ebb and flow like the river or lake you are crossing. I am sure our side does not match your side but perception is reality. We will always make fun of what we can because we can and because we know it either makes you mad or happy, the reaction is the goal! We do so with a deep religious knowledge that it will all come back to us in the end. For some reason, we are OK with that. The laughter now, no matter how morbid, seems to outweigh the risk. You will always bring home stray animals, have the deepest empathy and feelings for the down trodden, and champion those that need a voice. The world needs both sides because without balance and struggle and strife, there is nothing!

I am also glad and envious that you are not here to see what is happening in the US. We are slipping, or have slipped, into socialism. As Margret Thatcher once said, "Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money". The future is not bright as our government is printing money and buying votes from those that can not afford or do not understand what they are buying with their vote. In many ways you are like the tough guys on the onion sacks, I pray we cycle though this dark time before you surface. Maybe our situation here further makes me envious, I long for a simpler time when I did not know what I know. I am speaking for my brother who is hopefully sleeping in on his birthday. Love you much. Continue the journey and (as Bobby D would say) Keep on Keepin On! Or my personal mantra, "What a long strange trip it's been!"

Vicki said...

And I have to believe that yes, I have two brother who are obsessed with the humor of certain bodily functions, and that may have been why, sitting on the toilet typing the post, I first thought of them! Very nice comments Jeff. I appreciate it. I wondered however, after the final paragraph if you might be Bill O'Rielly, or Ann Coulter in drag had stopped by!

Cheers little Bro!

Margaret said...

Vicki- I am so impressed by your experience and the way you tell it, but also by your brother's expression of love and admiration... What a lucky woman you are!

Jeff said...

It could be that Ann Coulter IS Bill O'Reily in drag. I'll look more cloesly next time we are out to dinner. She does have man hands you know!

Karen Dionne said...

Hi, Vicki -

I LOVED your account of your trip on the ferry! I shared it with my son, and he asked me if I thought I could describe it as well. ;)

Seeing your pictures of Chaiten made me realize I'd left a little piece of my heart there when I visited last April. Wonderful place. I only wish we could have met in person!

Vicki said...

Margaret...I am definately rich for my family experiences. Dr. Phil would have a fit over us! I think he'd turn in his credentials.

Vicki said...


I am so conflicted over Chaiten. We spent the day, and the night and next morning with Nicolas there. You can know in your logical brain what is right and practical, but then you meet the people, share their food, their lives and it gets a bugged up in your head! I posted a video of images and photos from Chaiten, before and after. I married it up with a non-video video of Nicolas playing an impromptu concert as we sat in his van waiting for the Futa bus. I put it together after I got back...but you might appreciate how it all came together. It's all a quandry.

Vicki said...

Ah, and Pefley! There is no such thing as balls or no balls to do what I am doing. Or to do what you are doing. It's just how we get flopped about in life. We do what we do, when we need to do it, and it has nothing to do with fortitude or guts. In fact, it would take guts for me to do what you and How do. Of course, to be fair, you both have minor children, which makes a big difference. But I'm guessing had the things that happened to us, in our life, when our kids were all grown, you might be hard pressed not to do the same....LEAP!

Vicki said...

...and if you are lucky, a net will appear.