Sunday, December 6, 2009

Neruda, Victor Jara, Pucón and so on...

Another day, another ride in the back of a ute.

View from the sky..

We really are very very small..

Extreme picnicing

Besties on the mountain

That bloody thing was never going to work
Consider yourself conquered :)


We are back in Santiago after about 5 days in Pucón, yet another town overshadowed by an immense volcano...
After hanging out at the bustling markets that seemed to cover an expanse of half the city, we spent our day today wondering the streets of the old city on the other side of the river, the most beautiful and interesting part of Santiago for sure. Footpaths lined with market stalls (or rather, handcrafts or nick-nacks on blankets), and dingey pubs and cafes off the road. Also, fittingly, the home of Pablo Neruda, the famous poet, two streets away.
Right now my mind is full of his words - not overly flowery, but perfectly arranged and with the ability to capture perfectly any given emotion.
¨Innumerable corazon del viento, la tiendo sobre nuestro silencio enamorada¨
A rough translation would be Innumerable heart of the wind, beating upon our silent love. Although I´m sure Eleanor will be quick to correct me :)

While I´m being pretentious and talking literature-
At the moment I am nearing the end of my book ¨Love in the Time of Cholera¨by Gabriel García Marquéz... The perfect accompaniment to this trip. A tale of all kinds of gritty love in an unknowable world. Ohhh its so tempting to go to Columbia at some stage (despite the fact that I´ve been warned off it so often, meh) if only to see the place that gave rise to such literary magic. I dream of the day when I can read it in his native tongue.

Back to Pucon. From the beginning, sort of...
On our first day in town we encountered some friendly jewellery makers on the street who invited us around for a jam. We all crammed into a one room apartment, they with their various assortments of instruments, and their Spanish and us with one guitar, our voices and our English. Using the language-transcending abilities of music, with a little wine, we sang the night away. We sang Joni Mitchell for them, they sang Victor Jara for us.
The songs of Victor Jara are some of the most beautiful I have ever heard. How someone can sing so sweetly and still hold such conviction and passion within the vibrado of his voice is beyond me. The only line I can remember, it being one of his most famous songs, has been reverberating in my head ever since - ¨El derecho de vivir en paz¨ The right to live in peace. Unfortunately, being cut off from the world and the news as we were, we missed out on Victor Jara´s second burial and funeral in Santiago by two days. So very dissappointing. For those who don´t know I suppose I should explain a little - He was murdered under the Pinochet regime in 1973 and has since come to represent opposition to the brutal regime and is famous for his heart-wrenching music infused with radical political ideals.

Second day we were there we got up at 6am to climb the nearby Volcano, ¨Villarica¨.
We had no idea what we were in for, or maybe that was just me.
This was the first time I had really been in the snow, so it was a bit of a novelty for me from the start. First up we realised, to our horror, that the chair lift wasn´t working (and judging by the amount of hard ice caked around its mechanisms, it hadn´t worked since last tourist season) adding an hour and a half to our walk. By the time we got to the top of the chair lift I already felt on the brink of exhaustion. By two hours later, when we were just reaching the cloudline, my body was screaming at me to stop. You know when your legs seem to turn to lead in protestation and your chest only takes in a quarter of the air you feel you need? Even talking seemed a massive expenditure of energy. However, at some point, I seemed to break through the exhaustion. I basically just told myself that there was no way I was going to turn back and not reach the top. Its strange, the rational, reasonable part of your mind says ¨It would be better for you to turn back. You´ve already experienced the glorious view and pushing on further will just hurt¨and then there´s the irrational part of your mind that demands you go on, whatever the consequences , offering no explaination as to why this is the best option. I suppse it has something to do with pride... but I´d like to think its a survival thing haha..
So we made it to the top, which was windy as fuck and sulfur-filled smoke billowed out top all the while, and were surrounded by the most spectacular views I´ve seen yet. I´ll let the photos do the talking..
The beginning of the descent was a little nerve-racking. Surrounded by hard, pointed icicles that looked as though they might slide down at any moment to spear me through the brain (vivid imagination?)I could only just see the tiny figures just halfway up the mountain. I hadn´t realised how huge this thing actually was. We navigated our way down slowly until we got to a point where we could strap on our bum protecters and pretty much slid down the rest of the way like a massive slippery slide. Ohh soooooooooooooooooooo much fun! my god!
So that was us spent for a couple of days. We´d used up all our energy, plus reserves.
My body and mind are still reeling from the experience four days later. Besides the fact that my nose got hideously burnt on the underside and has felt for days like its going to fall off my face, as well as the sunburnt patch between my eyebrows that makes me looked like a mono-browed mutant when combined with my throbbing red nose (wow, I´m so hot).

I´m sure the girls will have their own things to say about the big trek...
But for now, I´m all talked out.

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