...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Dispatch from the end of the world

So much has happened since I last posted. First and foremost, Easter Island/la Isla de Pascua/Rapa Nui was the most beautiful place Í´ve ever been in my life and one of my biggest pieces of advice to next spring´s Chile participants will be that if they can somehow scrape together the money to get out to the middle of the Pacific, then váyanse no más po. It was breathtaking and relaxing and challenging and worth it a million times over. Once I get back to the US I´m really going to make an effort to post some pictures and I want to write more about it, too. I´m also going to bring back pisco in a moai-shaped container if it kills me, so I´m thinking piscolas to celebrate my return and the beginning of spring semester; you´re all invited.

Now I´m in Punta Arenas, Chile´s last city. It´s not as cold as I expected it to be, but the wind is so strong that the trees (and there aren´t many of them) grow at a horizontal angle. A couple days ago I took a five-hour ferry ride out to the Strait of Magellan to Parque Nacional Los Penguinos, a national penguin sanctuary on Isla Magdalena. There were thousands of penguins on this island! It was so cool but it was bitterly, bitterly cold and the wind was so strong that I could barely walk. On the way back we saw these tiny black-and-white dolphins jumping alongside the ferry boat. Aside from that one excursion, I´ve spent a lot of time hanging out with Juan Carlos and his family (his mom and I have súper buena onda), sleeping, reading (I finally finished the sixth Harry Potter book and must discuss it soon. Also, I really need to re-read it in English because the blackmarket Spanish translation was laughably bad in some parts), and walking around Punta Arenas. It´s so strange being away from my family on Christmas and honestly, if I could do it over again, I probably would have chosen to spend the holiday with my host family back in Viña rather than try to cram another trip in. Jon and I returned from Easter Island on the 20th, and less than 18 hours later I was back in Santiago flying out again. Regardless, it´s cool to see another, radically different part of the country and I´m happy that now I can say that I got to know both Chile´s extreme north (San Pedro de Atacama) and its extreme south (Punta Arenas). These trips really hit home for me the length of the country.

On the 26th, I plan to take a bus to Puerto Natales, Chile´s second most southern city, and venture into Parque Nacional las Torres del Paine, Chile´s most famous national park and, according to Jon and others, one of the most beautiful places in the world, from there. Since my time is very limited (I need to be back in Punta Arenas the 28th to fly out early in the morning on the 29th), I have no gear, and I´m on my own, I´ll probably just do a guided day-tour of the Parque on the 27th and then take a boat ride to see some glaciers on the 28th.

I´ll try to update again either from Puerto Natales or from Viña after I fly back for New Year´s. Until then, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas in your respective countries (Peggy, I can´t wait to hear about Israel and all your other adventures) and that New Year´s finds everyone safe, sound, and happy. Chao!

Edited to add some stuff that just occured to me: First of all, I know Amy wrote about this awhile ago, but today while channel surfing I came across the trailer of of Brokeback Mountain on the E! Channel. Jake Gyllenhaal playing a gay cowboy? I need to see this movie yesterday. Seriously, I don´t know if I´ve ever seen so much hot on one TV screen. I just hope it´s still in theaters by the time I get back. And along those lines, I also want to see Rent in the theater even though its earnest high-school drama nerdiness makes me cringe. I´ve been saying for years that Rosario Dawson is the hardest-working woman in Hollywood, so here´s hoping that Mimi finally gives her her long-awaited breakout role. Also, I´ll probably be plugging my ears everytime Mark sings, because that guy grates. And finally, what´s up with this new Facebook ´´confirm friend details´´ thing? I don´t know whether to be offended or what when friends send me these things and I have to confirm that we went to high school together. Does anyone else find these awkward?

Also, more on the guinea pig: It thankfully came without the head, roasted in four separate chunks each a little larger than a deck of standard playing cards. There was very little meat on it and it was very fatty, as I guess you would expect from looking at a guinea pig. The skin was very thick and flavorful, judging from the small piece of it I ate. Overall, it was a worthwhile experiment but I wouldn´t order it again. As far as non-standard Peruvian meats go, I´ll stick with a nice alpaca steak, thank you.

Okay, I think that´s it. Merry Christmas!