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 well...here 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: