...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

Monday, December 25, 2006

One year ago / Hace un año atrás...

Christmas 2005: Dispatch from the end of the world.

Last year I spent Christmas with my friend Juan Carlos in Punta Arenas, Chile's southern-most city; Juan Carlos has generously invited me to spend the holiday with him so that I could get to know Southern Chile and so that I wouldn't pass it solita (all by my little self), displaying the incredibly Chilean hospitality. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at his uncle and aunt's house, with his cousins and his grandmother; they were, like Juan Carlos and his mother and brother, so incredibly welcoming, and had even wrapped presents for me. I got an email from one of his cousins a in mid-January from his cousin Marcela a few weeks into January, soon after the semester started--her father, Juan Carlos' uncle who's pictured in the family shot above, died suddenly and unexpectedly, a tragic and shocking footnote to my Punta Arenas memories. She told me that my Christmas pictures were the last taken of him, and asked me to send her all the ones I had.

From top to bottom, the pictures are:

1) View of Punta Arenas on Christmas Eve. Juan Carlos' uncle picked us up from his house and drove us to this viewpoint so that I could see the city.

2) Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Torres del Paine is a couple hours to the north of Punta Arenas, near Puerto Natales.

3) Glacier Perito Moreno. This is actually in Argentinean Patagonia, about 5-7 hours east of Puerto Natales.

4) Wild alpacas near Torres del Paine.

5) Juan Carlos, center, pouring a brindis (toast) of champagne. His mom and his younger brother are standing to the sides.

6-8) Penguins on Isla Magdalena! I took a ferry out in the Straights of Magellan one day to visit a national penguin refuge. Tiny Magellanic dolphins jumped along side the ferry as it raced through the choppy grey waters. That island was probably the coldest, windiest place I've ever been.

9) There were a lot of alpacas in Southern Chile.

10) Juan Carlos' family: from left to right, brother, cousin, uncle, mother, me, grandmother, aunt. His other cousin Marcela, who was around my age, was out of the room, and Juan Carlos was the one taking the picture.

Merry Christmas!