So I am here in the Santiago apartment and morning has just come after not sleeping at all last night pushed on by music, mate, and packing. I am hoping that by the time comes this night to get on the plane, I will be tired enough to sleep all the way to Texas and arrive tomorrow morning a little rested and somewhat back on track. It’s pretty wild to think that tomorrow I will be back in the states, and I am excited to see my family, friends, and the pico!!
I suppose this is a good post to look back on the whole trip and try and reflect on the experience as a whole. This is difficult as I am not naturally a reflective person, and as such I tend to perceive the world externally as opposed to my own internal emotions, so I suppose that this post will be more of a outflection(?).
I would have to say of all the things seen and places been, the memories that impact me the most right now have been all the people met. Due to the nature of my travels, I ran into quite a few people along the way, often for only a quick meeting. Others have turned into lifelong friends. While visiting both Argentina and Chile, I am also amazed as to the diversity of people met, hailing from many parts of the world including Europe and Asia. This aspect of the trip I believe has affected me the most, and I do not believe I am able to fully realize the complete experience at this point in time sitting here 6 stories above Santiago. I believe that as time continues on the time spent here will continue to affect me in all the things I choose to pursue, and I am happy for that. I would like to add that I found it interesting how despite cultural and economic differences, many people are incredibly similar and share many things. I had always been aware that certain human qualities could be found all over (love, sadness, happiness, anger) yet I was unaware of how much these traits dominate day to day life, and that when met in person there is a humanness, a type of neutral universal empathy that despite how an individual seems to react, seems to always been present. This quote kinda gets at it:
And all people live, Not by reason of any care they have for themselves, But by the love for them that is in other people.
There were some other interesting things in general as well. I have seen firsthand here in the South the growing global reach of large companies, and the influence of consumer culture. I have noticed through documentaries that it is growing all around the planet, and only have direct experience with both Argentina and Chile. It is somewhat unique in that the Argentines not too long ago had a huge feud with the IMF, originating sometime in the 80’s when they introduced a purely debt no value form of currency the austral. When the corrupt makers of this policy deposited this money in off shore accounts, the country was already heavy in debt. By the time they returned to the peso, people attempted to secure their wealth by making runs on the banks, and due to the institutions money lacking any real value,imposed a limit on how much you could withdraw and riots started. It was interesting to see how this recent affair still affects the Argentine society, and confidence in currency is justifiably not very strong there. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_economic_crisis_(1999–2002) So in a nutshell, more so in Chile, I see an increase in massive stores and fast food chains, and even more strangely both old and young totally embracing and preferring Starbucks, Mcdonalds, and huge stores over (many times still cheaper) local alternatives. Being South America and all, the only real apparent counter-movement to this seems to be of the socialist/communist bent, and while it makes for interesting sayings and wall art, feels a tad dated and somewhat juvenile. I just wonder how these (seemingly global) cultural and economic changes can be maintained by our limited physical resources!
So of all the positive and negative things noticed and experienced, I would have to say yet again that the people along the way and sharing my passion with them really made the whole trip a great experience. From wandering around Buenos Aires and jamming with Martin, to campfire wine times with the English folk and Chicagoans, I feel like part of them will stick with me forever. Not to forget Su, who will have a part of my heart until my time comes, and I will have a part of hers. I truly believe that the world is getting smaller and more similar, which makes great and terrible things possible. I suppose the future of it all really depends on how we each individually choose to live…Voltaire’s “tending our own gardens” and all. That being said I am excited to return home to my friends and family, and to continue going on there.
I have a sense of exile from thought, a nostalgia of the quiet room and balanced mind. I am a writer, and there comes a time when that which I write has to belong to me, has to be written alone and in silence, with no one looking over my shoulder, no one telling me a better way to write it. It doesn’t have to be great writing, it doesn’t even have to be terribly good. It just has to be mine.”
― Raymond Chandler
Part of the experience was this blog as well, which has probally been the most writing I have ever done in my life. It has been an interesting experience…and while sometimes I was rushed and a little bit robotic it was entertaining and I hope you all enjoyed reading it back home! Here is a wee poem I made to close out this post:
We are not of the revolution. The revolutionary spirit, like everything else, has been shrink-wrapped and placed on aisle 12 in between the cookie-cutters and the diaper section. Where is there to go from there? I feel that it is nowhere. However that is not a depressing and sad thing because nowhere is a destination that gets more interesting the closer you come to it, yet at the same time can never be reached. Why bother with what lies at the end of the desert when there’s dust in your eyes driving at 200 mph? Everybody walks to the cliff’s edge of their own time eventually. Some drag their feet to their last step, and others leap off with a skip and a jump. What is the future but a pair of soft eyes that gaze upon our tracks, and to judge how well we danced?
Its time to head off nows. Hope to see you all soon!
Well this month has been alot more mobile than the others, adn as such its almost impossible to update this travel blog every week. However I have cut up March into two parts, and I figure that’s better than nothing!
This second half of March has been quite interesting, spending most of it in both Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. These two cities are right next to each other and pretty nice because they are right on the coast. On top of that, both cities are extremely hilly, with almost all of their population living on hills around the small, flat, downtown areas. I was happy that both these cities had lively and small city centers, and it was very nice to wander around and talk to the folk there. I was happy to have made around 80 demo discs complete with cover and everything on the bus ride on the way there. It was always easy to strike up a conversation with interesting looking passerby’s by offering them my disc, a small conversation about the music they enjoy in general, and the occasional cigarette.
Viña del Mar was the city I actually spend ore time in. The downtown there is about 30 blocks long and about 3 blocks wide. It is full of tiny malls that break off from the sidewalk and head in, sort of like horizontal strip malls. While many of the shops were the normal offering of bland food, cyber cafes, and hair salons…there were many interesting places as well. There was a pretty nice chinese restaurant as well as some noteworthy nooks and crannies. It seems that similar stores here band together, and as such it’s pretty easy to find the music scene as all the stores are located in generally the same location full of all the people who are involved with that scene in the city. It was kinda neat to share my CD around, and to hear the various store workers playing my songs throughout different parts of the mall. It was also pretty cool to find a great music store on the second story of a strange looking structure, which was full of (finally) affordable vinyls and other miscellaneous musical paraphernalia. Upon buying some things at that store, I noticed what appeared to be a clumsy and somewhat strange german with limited spanish, but it actually turned out to be some guy from San Francisco living in Viña del Mar. The two workers there got a copy of my CD in return for a nice discount they gave me, as well as the guy’s card for his English classes.
Valparaiso was a little bit more of a limited affair. I went three times to Valpo, and each time good food and fairs awaited. Valpo is a extremely hilly town, and pretty fun and easy to wander around aimlessly in. The city had great plazas and a few musical hotspots. One store owner took a liking to my album, and the next day I saw him sharing it to a friend just as I walked in the store. This put me in a good mood, and so I decided to buy a German Beer Garden Songs album…who knows what it will sound like! Both of my phones decided not to work while I was visiting, so regretfully I have no photos of Valpo, yet I do have a few of Viña and will post those above.
I would like to add that I was very lucky to be able to stay with the lovely Susanna while in Viña, whom I met while I stayed at her family’s place during February. She has been quite a love interest these past two months, and I am very happy to have met her and shared some time with her. Even though she literally can speak about 5 words of English, I am happy that my Spanish ability is more than able to maintain a good relationship with her. It has been a amazing experience and I will make it a point of keeping in contact with her, perhaps visiting sometime in the future! I am excited to see everybody from back home, it’s hard to believe that I get back in about 3 days! Alas, I do believe I will miss Su, as I already do a little bit. I will make a final post tomorrow, with the final pictures as well as one more entry. Until then!
This March has had alot of moving around, and as such my updates are a tad lagged. Sorry about that alls!
For the first week of March, almost immediately upon returning from Illapel, I headed out to Algarrobo for a week. This is a great place used by many in Chile to enjoy the beach and vacation for a little bit. It was great seeing the water after a month in the desert, and the whole experience was very calming. I even decided to swim out to some distant rocks to chill for a little bit. While they appeared close, they were actually a little bit farther than I expected and I arrived at the rocks a tad winded, but happy to be surrounded by such clear and refreshing water.
After coming back to Santiago (and Internet) for a few days, I decided to visit Viña del Mar for a week. I will post an update about Viña del Mar with some photos in a bit. As for now I am back in Santiago, and leaving on Thursday to head back and see Valparaiso. I do not have access to Internet there very easily, though I am working on it ;) … I will probably be able to set up some type of connection. (thanks linux!)
This large journey has entered into its final phase, and I am excited to see my family and friends from back home. While we have skyped, and e-mailed, and IM’ed….I still think its crazy that I have seen no one from home in person for half a year now. I left the states in September of 2011, and I would have to stay that I have gotten used to life on this continent. I have also gotten extremely used to being very mobile, and I am looking forward to staying a year or two in one (more or less ha ha) place. Looking back on the majority of it now I am very happy and stunned to the amount of distance walked, places seen, and especially the amount of people met and talked to. I am excited to meet everyone from back home, and to see how they have spent the past 6 months. I am sure everybody will be a little different, which is an exciting and interesting thing. Until then Valparriso and the grand rodeo of Rancagua make up the final part of my quest. I will post more on those things when I have photos. See you all soon!!
I have been back in Santiago for about a half a week now, and it has been about a week and a half since I left Illapel. Due to the fact that I was there for a month, and had very limited access to electricity, I continued my log on paper, with daily entries. It wasn’t really a journal, as each day had 4 or 5 words listing what I did that day in general. As quite many a thing happened over the course of the month, I will probably make some separate document chronicling the details of the month, and post that at later time. As for this post I will doodle a bit on the things that I feel affected me the most in February, but it would be just too much to list everything. Post Illapel events are already happening, and i would not like to stop my blog in the last month because due to a month (literally) in the dark.
Arriving in Illapel with two other volunteers, it was already night due to getting a late bus. James, another volunteer, greeted us at the bus terminal and we went by taxi to El Balcòn, which was a part of the town just outside of Illapel. There we met Phil, the last volunteer of our group, had a few beers, talked about the station, and slept. The next day we went to the great fair in Illapel, which happens about 3 times a week. This fair was great. Everything was cheap, and extremely fresh. I bought some amazing oregano and merkèn, which is a spicy native powder made from ground Chiles that’s good on many things. The onions were amazing, they smelt really, really good, and the flavor was amazing. Melons, tomatoes, oranges, and pretty much any fruit was juicy, bright, and had a plump texture. They had a great bread store that had fluffy and fresh bread, and since that particular store was very popular, and since many people in town ate alot of bread, most of the bread was not only made the same day, but often within 30 minutes. Best part of the fair, buying POUNDS of ultra fresh, semi-firm, buttery avocados.
The first week at the station was quite fun. We had 5 people in total…James, Phil, and Layla who all hailed from England, and Katie and I from the U.S. Most of that first week was putting the cabin back into order, but it was quite fun. Nobody had clashing personalities and everyone was pretty mellow. Phil, Layla, and I built a wooden and metal structure around the hole in the ground that was our bathroom, which gave us some privacy and wind protection. At nights we watched the moonrise, drank wine, and chilled around the fireplace. One day we scaled one of the neighboring hills, saw some puma tracks, and took photos at the top. Considering our limited kitchen, Layla was quite a good cook (she cooked for the London Occupy camp) and my pasta was a hit as well. I still find it amazing how some fresh bread, fresh tomatoes, and amazing avocados can taste so good together, those were some wonderful breakfasts. After a week Phil and Layla left, leaving me with James and Katie. We continued at a leisurely pace, spending nights around the fire with wine listening to the podcast “In Our Time”and this English comedy show set in World War 1. I know some people are aware that Hugh Lawrie from the TV show House is actually English, but I didn’t know how super English he actually was! Perhaps it was context of the show, but it was probably the most British thing I have ever heard. (Had Stephen Fry and Mr. Bean in it too)
After a few more days Katie and James decided to head south, and I returned to El Balcon to rest for the weekend and buy supplies. The house at Balcòn was very nice, consisting of one mother, 3 sisters, two male children, and a whole gang of visitors, a family of cats(around 6), and a dog. It was an amazing place that I do not have too much time to talk about, but life there was great and many things happened from day to day. It turns out that me and one of the sisters were quite compatible, and I spent much time with her bumbling abouts and chatting. We prepared the floor outside the kitchen for an expansion, picked blackberries, watered tomatoes and onions, celebrated the neighbor Don Jaime’s birthday, and many other things that would take too long to list. Great times there for sure.
The last two weeks there during the week I was at the station solo. I took a few videos as a sort of video diary, which I will upload later when I have the cable. It was quite a surreal experience, and although I had an amazing time, I find it hard to write about the things that I experienced there. I suppose in a nutshell one thing I noticed as the amplification of sound: with no other humans around I heard no voices or any other human generated sound. As a result sound that I did not make stuck out really obvious, like mini rock avalanches on the hill made by rabbits and foxes, sometimes about 100m away. The only time I heard language was when I talked to myself, which after awhile started to sound weird. I found it much more enjoyable to sing my thoughts to myself, and I’m hoping the animals felt that way too. The native life around the cabin must have heard the lessened human presence, for I noticed much more animals around than when the others volunteers were there. They weren’t in the distance as well, they came up right near me. One time for breakfast there was a fox right underneath the table that ran away in a panic when it saw me. Also every time I ate breakfast it wasn’t uncommon for two birds to slowly approach me, often sitting at the end of the table where I was eating. I talked to them and they seemed to enjoy my songs and tone. (Maybe it was just my crumbs?) I had a three day battle with a snake living at the bathroom, which I won one day with a well placed rock. The snake never returned after that! At night I read by a red light, had some wine, and burned the firewood I collected during the day. I wrote a few songs, cooked, dug holes in the dirt, and layed a pipeline for the chinchilla garden. I built quite a few things, which I have pictures of but can only be uploaded when I have a scanner. All in all a unique and great time, sunny and hot, but refreshing and different. I will follow with some pictures soon!
So that is my best summary of some of the things that happened in February, but so much more went on it’s hard to include it all. Amazing food outside the towns disco, the Illapel metal/punk show, and so many other events occurred it’s hard to include it all, so I suppose the document will do it more justice. In two days I will be heading to Viña del Mar and Valpariso, which should be a great time. Until then more posts are on the way, as well as some pictures. I hope everybody at home had a great February!
Tomorrow is February 1st, and I will head off to the north to assist at the Chinchilla Reserve! I am pretty excited, and it feels quite similar as when I headed away from Buenos Aires in December. This should be quite the February, and the longest I have ever lived with no electricity and no meat. While there is a nearby location that has a cell phone location nearby for emergency purposes, that is the most communication we will have access to while at the field station. We will be able to access the internet from the town when we buy supplies as well, but I believe it’s a type of Internet Cafe sort of deal, so I may only be able to send brief messages. As such, I will probably not be able to update this travel journal while I am there, but I will try to take pictures and will definitely put a post when I return in the first week of March!
As for January, it has been quite a month! I took about a week and a half producing some new songs and upgrading my software. I am amazed at how quickly my capacity to create sounds and ability to hit certain details has grown, so I am pretty excited about all of that! I have also created many musical contacts here though family friends and a yoga teacher, so March is already looking like a very active month! I have applied to volunteer for an online magazine here in Santiago, they have interest in publishing an article on the experience of helping at the reserve. Writing for the magazine is another thing that I have planned for March, and it should be fun to put on a journalist hat for a bit. I already have a location scouted out for my first non-chinchilla article, a studio in an upscale part of town that I had visited earlier in the month! All in all a good 2 months ahead.
As for this February, while I am excited, I have no real concrete thoughts heading into my time at the reserve. While I feel I will enjoy the open air, and the pristine stars of the night, I have no idealized feeling of how it’s going to be. Every experience has its pro and cons, yet I love the fact that the experience will be different, quite different indeed! It will be an interesting place, and it will be nice to see Chinchillas and Picos running around in the wild in their natural habitat. I’m actually a tad more excited than expected to go to the last bastion of Picos kind, and I imagine it should be pretty great to watch them jump around and forage and such.
I will miss everybody from home, probably a little more than usual this month due to the lack of communication. I wish you all a great February 2012, and I hope it proves to be a great one! I will be interested to hear what happened during the month!