Far Away and In Between: Two small pieces written in exactly the same place, Coyhaique, Dec 30- Jan 4

    1. Arriving

When you are in between, one thing happens and then another thing happens and then you write them down and they rub up against each other and make no sense and also make some sense. 

Like the one morning when I was waking up in Augustini camp and directly hiking to the mirador of Glaciar Grande as Cerro Torre speared through the clouds. Then the next morning, when I was waking up on a warm, poorly ventilated bus next to a large snoring man with his legs spead.

Or that same morning when I was in Argentina and I walked and kept walking and a town dog followed me and then left and then I was in Chile and some mechanics gave me a ride in their pickup truck and I was on the shores of the deepest lake in South America.

Or that evening on the ferry when my lonesomeness consumed me and I stood on the top deck purposefully pelted by wind and unpredictable splash and spray so I could weep and howl under my sunglasses and hood and it didn't matter because the lake was also weeping and howling. 

And then the very next day when they invited me into the cycling shop for a cafecito in a tiny glass cup and I talked to Pasto about organic farming and yoga and then biked to Momo's house and sat under cherry trees drinking homemade damasco/ plátano/ miel juice, toasted bread filled with pork fat, beef and lamb asado. And I think they knew, or someone knew, how much I needed to swing back and forth and drift in and out of sleep and hear Spanish and be around people who care about what I care about, but even more. And when I left at sunset I promised to bring the bike back in time for tomorrow's cycling and fishing expedition.

Then the next day when I returned the bike, pulling open the gate and balancing a sticky orange popsicle, and instead of preparing an expedition, Momo was knocked out in the hammock and Ricki was crouched under a cherry tree chewing on leftover asado, with both all and none of the evidence that they had moved since I left. 

It was something about how empty the streets were on that first day of the year that made me feel I was no longer in between. There was nowhere to go. In order to be definitively not passing through, I only had to say no to one idea harvested in a haze of transitions; I would not in fact be hitching 67km down a dirt road (the Carretera Austral) in order to board the cargo ship I had a ticket for, which, over the course of 28 hours, was indeed going north but not actually where I wanted to go.

So my tent has been 'armada' in the same place for six nights as I wait for the Tuesday ferry, and also wait for nothing. I am leaning against a tree and a grey cat comes crawling under the hanging yellow flowers and rolls in the grass and I become the cat and nap, curled and following the sun around the trunk in a semi-circle through the afternoon. And I wonder how much we create our places of arrival. How much I was taken in, or held back, and how much I chose, slowly, gratefully, for this not (just) to be a passing through. 


2. The Cheese

In order to write every day, I will have to write every thing. By that I mean not just acontecimientos, the things that happened, but also the other things, that didn't exactly happen, although they took place. For example, this: I was preparing dinner in what I would like to call my Chilean writers' shed. There is a wooden table with two tree stumps as hooves which lend more the idea of a work bench than a desk. I like that. It inspires mechanical tinkering as an almost physical pursuit. My locale from here is very explainable- necklaced by all different sorts of tree beads which flatter me that my writing head is this tall airy thing in the middle of the grove. 

Through the trees I can see the blue of the French couples' tent who arrived the same night I did. I hope they don't leave, because the way they read in the sun and hang their clothes to dry and don't go anywhere feels like evidence that there's nothing better for me to do, either, than sit here in the grass and describe how I can see their tent through the bushes. 

But the story I meant to tell was about how I was preparing dinner in what I would like to call my Chilean writers' shed. A quarter litre of water was boiling to rehydrate mashed potatoes and I was cutting slimy cheese with my swiss army knife. The cheese was slimy because I bought it four days ago, on the other side of that blustery ferry ride and a trip through the mountains in a minivan for local commuters. Not so much that, but perhaps just the fact that I had carried it around in my warm backpack since then, not wanting to part from it on the off chance that I would miss the moment when it became less slimy and more appealing. As I flicked some pieces of dirt from the oily surface, I laughed, sort of, and thought 'I deserve better than this.' 

But hold on. Really? Why do I deserve better than this? Why do I not deserve better than this? I reached no conclusion, apart from noticing that sometimes how I live outside makes me feel like a humble thing of the earth. I smell so bad. How I live outside is not so humble, yet I have lived better. And by better I guess I just mean less near to the bugs that crawl on the ground. Do I deserve this- both in majesty and in filth? Do I deserve anything? This was a thing that took place, while it didn't exactly happen.