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Published: April 12th 2015
I will have to wait for the fog, the flying salt, the scattered sun, for the sea to breathe and breathe on me, because water is not just water, but a hazy intrusion, and the waves roll in the air like invisible horses. Pablo Neruda, 1904 – 1973.
As Dave finished in Antarctica and Theresa finished in Northern Canada, one flew north and the other flew south. We met up at our thirteenth floor apartment in Santiago, Chile.… Together again and on the road for more adventures…
Having a few days to wait for Dave, Theresa was able to capture the "Between Worlds" that she finds so intriguing to reflect upon... Here is a little excerpt:
"When we first start out on a new trip, there is a space between worlds. Where we just came from, and where we just landed. When in a new place, we can remember well, the familiar home base and the details of our routine of the work life. The place in which we just arrived feels fresh and new. Our eyes and senses see it, hear it and feel it for the very first time. Excitement for the new, and a fading of the old. This window of opportunity to see both worlds can be very short lived. We can observe differences in both worlds to help put a certain poetry to the comparison. Then as adaptation to one's new environment takes place a new reference
Old and New
point is reset. The space between worlds disappears as the moment takes over. And we see what is in front of us. We do what needs to be done. And we explore this new world. Part of the space between worlds can be called culture shock if there is resistance to the letting go of the old world. When we feel safe and grateful, then and only then can we reflect on the beauty before us, the strange new world I have flown over 24 hours to see..."
So from my 13th floor balcony (that's right, they give good use to the number 13 in apartments and hotels here), as I observed with fresh eyes, in my between-worlds window, I wrote this:
"As I sit on my 13th
floor balcony, I sip my tea in the smallest of cups, enjoying the brief sensation of warmth against my fingers. The air is cool and the sun has not yet risen. The city streets start to awaken as more and more traffic sounds fill my ears. The cool foggy air bushes my skin. The green trees between buildings below me remind me I am somewhere other than my homeland of
on the 13th floor. Santiago
ice and snow. The mountains around the city make the backdrop even more foreign to my sub-arctic eyes. Each building holds a unique history with various stories inside. People living, working, family dramas, love and loss. The building in front of me with the crane of flashing lights sleeps until the construction men dot it like busy working ants. Birds chirp and flutter about as buses scurry off to bring locals to the next stop. A mixture of old and new, each building has been marked with the grey colouring of smog and dust, covering the brilliance of once was. At ground level the street walls are filled with artwork in writing form, of random artists who feel the need to write and display their ownership. A battle once lost by the municipality to keep the walls free of expression. The dampness moves in as the city continues to awaken. Babies are fed, children are off to school. Young adults start their new jobs. And others go to their jobs that they’ve had for months or years. The roof top of each building tells its own story. Mismatched colours of tin to painted one colour to bright and shiny silver
The Sprawl of Santiago
From Cerro San Cristobal
with solar panels. All are dampened by the dew of the night. The hammers and nail guns begin at the busy ants’ construction site before me. More birds flutter about. The skeleton building becomes overwhelmed by worker ants and the sounds of metal tools dropping onto concrete create an odd melody amongst the brushing, traffic breaths. Poetry amongst the mundane...."
Our travels started in the Chilean capital, a welcome climate for the two of us as we'd both been surrounded by ice (in both hemispheres) for the past few months. We decided to get in amongst the green and hike to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal and get some great views of the city whilst hiking the trail. The views were indeed quite incredible, with an urban sprawl disappearing into the smog and the South American backbone of the Andes as a phenomenal backdrop. We bathed in the splendour of the mighty city from the top before beginning our decent back to the choke of buzzing traffic. However, our walk downhill was interrupted by a surprise encounter…
Dave’s surprise encounter... "I looked at a guy walking up towards us, he looked back. There were a
few seconds of silence then we said something. It was Nick! He and I worked together on a ship once and we were both travelling in the same place at the same time… We chatted for a bit then headed on our jolly ways. It is always strange to run into people unexpectedly and especially when it’s out of context. Two days later, in a small chocolatería in Valparaíso I stared into the eyes of couple! We also knew each other! Theresa and Keith travelled on the ship with me several weeks prior to this random meeting."
Back at the hostel in Valparaíso we met (for the first time) Mandy from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. We have many friends in that neck of the woods, and although Mandy did not know us, she knew our friends! We are often curious as to how many near misses we all have when it comes to these surprise encounters.’
“The Pacific Ocean is so big that the only place it would fit in the world was in front of my house.” wrote Pablo Neruda, a well-respected Chilean poet who received the Nobel Prize for literature, as he sat in his leather
The City in the Smog
With the mighty snow-capped Andes as a stunning backdrop
armchair in his fifth-floor study, his house perched high upon a hill overlooking the city of Valparaíso. His house is a beautiful collection of antiquated furniture, ornaments, paintings and maps from all around the world. The gentleman clearly had taste, as he ate only from fine china, drank only from quality glassware and was surrounded by artistic décor.
Valparaíso was a wonderful city, well worthy in our minds of its UNESCO World Heritage status. The streets are a haphazard tangle, beautifully coloured with art, and the buildings have a character all of their own, the food is fresh and the funicular railways keep the history alive. The houses are stacked upon each other in an unlikely fashion, old on top of new and vice-versa - very higglety-pigglety, topsy-turvy housing – it fits, and it works. The murals of art dominate every wall, every stairwell and every door. The artists who started the mural movement wanted people to enjoy art for free. Valpo (as it’s known locally) was our last stop in Chile!
Our original idea was to travel northward through Chile to enjoy all what this amazing country had to offer. However, several flooded regions of Chile’s north
had washed out roads, torn down power lines and knocked out communications, wreaking havoc with road transportation. Almost all long distance northbound buses out of Santiago had been cancelled. So instead, we flipped the route around and headed across the border into Argentina and headed north from Mendoza… After a few hefty bus rides and a few stops, we were in the northwestern corner of Argentina, in the lovely city of Salta where we rode the cable car and strolled along the colonial streets. Salta is a charm of a city, but, after a couple of days, we continued northward a bit more into the Quebrada de Humahuaca for a little bit of elevation gain to start to acclimatize for our next leg..!
At times, sound can play games! In the dark streets of Purmamarca we heard a riotous honk from around the corner. Was it a donkey? A horse? A cow? It didn’t sound like anyone we knew, which was also unusual. It was like an agonizing screech or a drastic mechanical failure. Curiously, we approached the corner with caution!
We asked each other, “Is that what a llama sounds like? An alpaca? A vicuña? What the
at the Fine Arts Museum, Santiago
heck is that strange sound?”
We continued - then saw a pretty young girl in a dress blowing into a horn with dangling tassels and coloured patterns… Even though we were amazed that that big sound came from something so small and innocent, we were slightly disappointed that we did not see something more spectacular…
We took several small jaunts by bus to get to the remote mountain community of Iruya which sits in an impressive ravine at the bottom of an impossible road! We were initially puzzled as to why the last part of the journey, which is only 60 kilometres of gravel road, would take four hours by bus! But then we saw the road… Wow! If you were to ask an engineer to put another corner or hill in the road – they would fail miserably!
Iruya is a very traditional Andean town of only about a thousand folks, and it’s a very quiet place (when they’re not blasting music and honking horns for the odd fiesta or celebration). Its setting is stunning and truly remarkable. Near-vertical valley walls tower upwards for hundreds of metres above the houses. The steep streets are cobbled with
multi-coloured stones from the surrounding mountains and ravine. The locals are friendly and are always happy to chat. Even the animals are friendly! We had a feline friend come to visit us at our nice cabaña. We had the joy of being quazi locals for a few days while we cooked up locally grown foods in our kitchen (with a fridge, too!). Also worth mentioning was the fact that our bathroom worked. The toilet flushed, the water ran and the shower was hot. Our landlady was the nicest lady in our travels thus far, making sure we had sufficient toilet paper (rare, these parts), fresh towels, and new garbage bags. Doing laundry in our own laundry room was a welcomed chore after a few dodgy hotels and the exhausting schedule we had just finished before our arrival. There is great satisfaction in hanging out our laundry in the fresh mountain air… It’s the small things that sometimes make your trip magical.
Hasta pronto, D & T
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