[In the mad dash to rome rioni here on 5cense in realtime before Sound Furies split Caput Mundi, we've bin niglecting our archival duties, as ghost writer (for host Cal) of SSEY vol 2, which ivolvess transcribing Cal/Telemachus' journels from '91, when he wint to search for Ulysses, or whatever Ulysses was looking for in his worldwide travels. Tel's trip to Asia got interrupted by the gulf war amongst other things. After returning to California + applying to grad schools he took off again, this time south. Here's the journel this post was transcribed from]:
LAX—May 1, 1991
On the road again! Just took off for Houston > Miami > Asuncion > Buenos Aires. 27 hours. Fun fun. The movie is Mermaids w/ Cher. What a joke. They want $4 for headsets.
The events leading to now... took the G.R.E. Night before the physics one went to a movie + then to bed at 10 p.m. But then woke up at 11 cuz cats were running around on the roof of my attic refuge [at his grandmothers house]. All night, nervous naps w/ twisted dreams, then up at 5:45 a.m. + drove to Emeryville. Wasn't that nervous when i sat down to take the test, just the anticipation. After a while tho my mind stopped functioning. Nothing i can do about it now.
The next day i took off to see D + T in Los Osos. Stayed up late spinning the yarn w/ D + eating artichokes. Next morning we ate a lot of strawberries then went to the bluffs to watch seals + just be. Continued on to Del Mar in the afternoon, thru dense traffic. Got there around 8. Then found out M's brother died in a car crash. I feel numb to death + never know how to react, didn't know what to say to M. We went + chowed Thai food then watched Raising Arizona. Felt weird at first watching a comedy, but M just wanted to think about something else. Next morning went to get fire hoses from J.B. [cant remember why he needed firehoses!] + hung around San Diego buying saddle shoes + eating sushi. Went to the beach + walked on our hands. Sunday took off for L.A., got to K's [a.k.a. Ulysses] new place above a carneceria. He showed up w/ Mom. Cool seedy pad he has, studio w/ his pieces on the walls. Ate ceviche then took S to the train station. Saw Reversal of Fortune in Hollywood. Weird to be w/ Mom + K at the same time, everything turns into an argument. They only thing they share in common is a propensity to exaggerate. She left the next day + K + I went downtown to get my plane ticket. Then we met R to play golf. I got a birdie on one hole + shot a 36. R lives in Echo Park w/ these 2 funny looking "hula" hounds. After that K + I went to Pasadena for a run, i didn't get very far as i was in bare feet. Picked up R the next morning + went to meet R.A. at the beach + met some girl C who was friends w/ Hunter S. Thompson. Said he was just like in his books. Everything here is about networking, K seems consumed by it, all about who you know. Little difference between work + social life. All people talk about is what club they went to + what famous person they saw, then do Mexican food for breakfast + complain about how poor you are. Not sure i could live in L.A. Saw a seal on the beach w/ a pup that just sat there looking sick, but no one cared. I called the humane society + they told me it was "normal". Had beers + saw a movie about the continuous filming of a family for a year. Then back to Hollywood—another characteristic of L.A... driving for hours every place you go—just to play pool at some seedy bar. R.H. + R.C. + his girlfriend B met us + we went to this strip joint called the Jumbo Clown Room... funny place. Girls dancing around in G-strings + pole-dancing for a bunch of bohemian artists [where Courtney Love started her career around this time, so maybe one of the dancers was her]. R was being hilarious as usual. Drove to R.A. + G's + spent the night, tho K went home. Woke up at some ungodly hour to go to the airport + here i am, going to Buenos Aires. Sitting next to this big black woman, her first time on an airplane. She shakes the whole row of seats every time she laughs, which is a lot. She is watching Mermaids but I'm to cheap to get headphones. [Mixed in w/ cut pics from magazines, of eyeballs + suns + microscopic patterns + an assortment of photos + postcards. Then here's the next page:]
[followed by another page of dream interpretations + quotes from books + correlation between mind/body + particle physics mixed w/ random travel notes, like:]
Why Argentina is "silvery":
—they stand up in coffee bars
—soap is a round blob on the end of a stick attached to the wall
—portable BBQs everywhere on the roadside
—lots of good-looking brunettes w/ long hair + Cro-Magnon dudes w/ curly hair.
—coffee + tea always after dinner, never before. But mate whenever. Coffee w/ milk only in the morning.
—wide streets + they drive on the lines rather than in between.
—no one eats dinner before 9 or 10 p.m.
—they eat noquis on the 29th of every month
—they have pillows that are 2 meters long.
somewhere over South America
B.A. —> San Martin, May 5
Any second now my handwriting will turn to mush, when the bus gets going. Just had an espresso (they call it coffee) + a medialuna (croissant). I left off in transit in Houston... would have tried to call G but i only had an hour layover. Then to Miami where i had a 4 hour layover to reminisce about passing thru there after hurricane Gilbert in 1988, getting off the plane to a swarm of media. Same ticket counter + same phone we used to call a list of people who wanted us to call their parents or whatnot to let know they were okay. Even in the airport the surrounding culture rubs off. In Houston + Miami the white people seem whiter + black people blacker. Hard to write right now as scenery is intense. The sun has risen after a long night crossing the Pampas, which until now i'd only seen by headlights + a half moon.
The plane to Asuncion was full of strange Germanic people who seemed stuck in the 70s. Dumpy looking in down jackets + polyester sky blue suits + i don't think they're trying to make an anti-fashion statement. Cardboard boxes of shit. Slept most of the night + woke up w/ the sun rising over the Amazon basin, thick w/ mist so couldn't see much. In the airport there was large cheery natives that seemed out of place, selling bows + arrows + headdresses under the monitors blaring rock n roll videos. Was hoping maybe J + Ñ might surprise me at the airport (I gave mom my flight info the day before) in B.A. but no one was there. I had no idea where to go so just took a bus downtown to calle Florida, or cayjay Florida as they say. Walked around for an hour then found a shithole place on La Valle for $9, next to some porn palace. It had to be the smallest bed i've ever seen, tiny narrow room w/ really high ceilings, like sleeping in an elevator shaft. Walked around next morning + went to the train station, but the next train to Bariloche wasn't for a few days. So went to the bus station + got a ticket to San Martin for the next day. Some dude was hustling me as i was buying my ticket for 787,000 Australs ($78!) + i only had 786,000 so had to rummage into my money belt w/ this guy standing there. Then he followed me around nervously smoking, trying to ask me questions, then basically asked to come back to my room + i just said i didn't understand what he was saying, which was partially true cuz they talk really fast + strange here. I said i didn't remember the name of the hotel then "ciao!"
Walked around all evening, the women here are beautiful, streets full of Isabella Rosellinis. Had the best ravioli i've ever had. Yum. Oh, "yum" means the feminine form in Tibetan, i.e. yum/yab = ying/yang. It was 7 pm so the place was empty (no one eats until like 9 or 10). Went to bed early but was awoken by loud dramatic porn soundtracks throbbing my walls, where was I? Deep in this cell/elevator shaft next door to a porn theatre. Thru a maze of hallways so don't even really know where the street is. Woken up again in the morning to loud thunder + rain + oh, that is someone knocking. I answer the door + the maid says check out is 10 a.m. But it's 8 a.m. Feels like 4 a.m. Cant see daylight anywhere. Left my bag at the desk + walked around Buenos Aires. Had lunch at La Huerta, one of the few vegetarian places. Then to the bus station. Nice to blend in, unlike Asia where you always attract attention. Sat next to some persnickety woman on the bus, w/ nylons + high heels who sat w/ her legs crossed + purse on the lap the whole time, ever-adjusting her skirt in a dainty manner. I fell asleep + read + they played some French movie /w Spanish subtitles. At 9 we stopped a roadside place to eat. Que hay que no tiene carne? Solo sandwich de queso. Now seeing Las Pampas by first light. The sun is thawing the ground. Almost to Bariloche. Finished The Old Patagonia Express by Paul Theroux... condescending trash without much insight, but who else has written about train rides thru Peru, Bolivia + Patagonia + hung out w/ the likes of Borges (tho their discussions were pretentious)?
xing las pampas
San Martin de Los Andes —May 6, 12:30 a.m.
Dreamt i had a lock of S's hair, long + auburn-burgundy. The hairs had power when i waved them around, like magnetic field lines. They had bewitching power to cast spells but i didn't cast any. I acquired a lock of my own + spliced them together + they turned into miniature Singapore plastic dollar bills that fell onto the floor like leaves.
Then i was at 9000 SW Caroline [childhood home in Portland] w/ K [Ulysses]. I stooped to pickup the dayglo plastic bills but they turned into something else + followed in my footsteps like phosphorescence when you walk on the beach in the dark. None of the lights worked. These dayglo dots started appearing everywhere, following me. K was being cynical, saying it must be nuclear radiation from something i ate. I went into the dining room + turned on the light w/ a dimmer slowly revealing a small chicken-turkey, like the 1 in Eraserhead. Ends up the dayglo dots were chicken eyes. Meanwhile the chicken, in a sad state, wandered into the kitchen, where a little kitten tried to fuck him, which we thought was hilarious. [followed by rubbeings of coins]
approaching San Martin [a distant Lanin?]
San Martin —May 6
After some brilliant scenery the bus plopped me off here. Hmm, where to begin? Figured out where i was on some map + began walking to find J's workshop, but no one was there, no car parked out front, nada. SM is not the kind of place an outsider just walks around, everyone seems to know each other. It's straight out of Twin Peaks, little wood lodges + coffee shops, cold, lots of long-hair brunettes, beat-up cars, scruffy bearded hippies + flashy Porteño as well. Next i went to find H, who worked at Avis rent-a-car, but it wasn't anywhere near where mom said it was so asked around. H wasn't there but the girl that worked there told me J + Ñ + L went to Buenos Aires. I should of called A when i was in B.A... so much for surprising them, looks like it was me who got the surprise. I was tired and had this notion (induced by Twin Peaks) to find a lodge w/ a fireplace where weird characters gathered. I did find such a place, but it was way out of my price range. So i settled for a little guesthouse where i have a funky room w/ a balcony. Went to a phone place but A's number was always busy, as was I's. Back at Avis H wasn't there yet + the girl was closing up. So went + got onion (ceboyja) soup + raviolis. Next morning i still couldn't get a hold of anyone. It was Sunday. There was a number on H's door i called + he was there in 10 minutes. He took me back to his place, met his wife M + kids J + M. Everyone greets w/ kisses on cheek, even guys + kids. Got a hold of J, they went to B.A. cuz L had a runny nose + then figured while they there they may as well sell their car + buy 2 cheaper ones, so wouldn't be back for at least a week. After debating what to do, decided to just go to Chile for a week or until they come back. There's some boat you can take at Puerto Montt that goes to Punta Arenas, all the way to the tip, thru fjords +past glaciers+ dodging icebergs. Sounds fun, but it only goes 3x a month. We'll see. Tomorrow I’ll go to Chemuco. Had lunch then took a trek into the surrounding mountains, huge mesas shaped like barrels [draws pic] + huge glaciers spilling into streams in meadows, all with a snow-capped Andes backdrop. Reminiscent some of New Zealand. Had a revelation that i can't quite formulate in words, that feeling when you reach a beautiful spot + say wow, viewing it purely objectively, that landscape completely separate from me. Thinking how special this spot is, wondering if i would ever return to experience nostalgia then realized this beauty was all in my head, that's all that ever exists. All these moments are etched somewhere in my motion picture of life. Think of all the beautiful places i'll never see, and it doesn't matter. Broke in my boots + watched some gauchos riding horses, herding. Just like in a Western flick. Harsh + rocky landscape, lots of thorny bushes. All the plants feel different than California. H showed me a beautiful waterfall right under his house. [then he fills a page w/ Spanish words he learned]
Temuco, Chile—May 7
Woke up at 5:20 am + it was freezing. H let me take his car down + he'd pick it up later. It barely started + the windows were all iced. I poured water on the windshield but it immediately froze again. And i had to back a ways down an unfamiliar driveway. Ended up driving the Ford Falcon w/ my head out the window tho it was cold as hell + pitch dark. Got a bus to Junin de Los Andes where i got off to stand in some long line just to tell some woman my name + age. Then on another crowded pullman to Chile. I had a seat in the back, w/ my sky-blue down jacket H let me borrow. Flying down bumpy dirt roads in darkness, everyone in cold silence. Hands in pocket, shoulders hunched up. The bus was all run down + crumby, no heat, etc. but it did have an espresso machine built into the dashboard. Get your priorities straight! [followed by next page:]
[...sat the jefe in a big jacket in a heated office—laughing at us and giving everybody] hassles. I was last (they called out names)—probably cuz they couldn't figure out how to pronounce it, "Israel"? he asked. I think i was the 2nd foreigner to cross this border point, the last was probably from Israel. I had to show him how to read my passport. He charged everyone except me. This all took over an hour. Meanwhile the sun was making everything sparkle with frost. After we crossed we spent another hour or so going through Chilean immigration + customs. They scrutinized my "California trail mix," trying to figure out what it was, but finally let me keep it. The big woman in front of me tried to smuggle a hunk of cheese, but they found it + threw it in the fire. Another woman had a whole quart of cooking oil break inside her bag, yuck! We passed more pristine lakes + volcanoes on this rickety gravel road—simply gorgeous. I passed up Pucon + Villarica + went on to Temuco. Small city/big town. Hometown of Pablo Neruda. Got off at some random spot + began to walk... the places mentioned in L.P. were abandoned buildings. Found a great health food restaurant + saw 2 American girls. First travellers i've seen since i left. I'm lonely for some company, not only is there a lack of travellers but Chileans (+ Argentineans) are generally indifferent + not so friendly. I did meet one guy who took me to some museum and told me all about southern Chile. Walked around a lot. There's a market with mostly lame stuff, except some drums + ponchos, but $$. Some Mapuches selling stuff on the streets + Bohemians selling jewelry (Peruvian). Don't know what my next move is, maybe i'll take a chill pill + spend more than 1 night in 1 place (haven't yet).
Villarica, Chile—May 8
Nope, couldn't bring myself to stay 2 days in1 place. Woke up + checked out the museum—Mapuche artifacts—fairly dull. Went to the market + almost bought a drum cuz they have these cool nodal lines on them, but too expensive. Instead bought pepinos + sum photos of the drums [see below.]
Got a bus backtracking to Villarica + found this warped hotel, both physically + mentally. Actually a bar with all sorts of scruffy men listening to psychotic music this guy was playing on his portable Casio keyboard. The bartender was a real space cadet but finally managed to lead me thru these jaded rickety corridors (like it had been hit by one too many earthquakes) to this dark dingy room which he wanted 1500 pesos for. I asked if he had anything with windows + he showed me a nice room overlooking the street, but it had 2 beds so he was hesitant, but obviously no one else was there, so he ended up giving it to me for 1200. When they finally found the logbook i saw the last guest was a week ago, a student from California. In the restaurant i asked if they had anything without meat, nada. Only steaks, meat sandwiches. I asked if she could make fideos con salsa de tomate + 10 minutes later she came back with it. She said if i ask in advance, she can prepare anything i ask for. Talk about "special orders don't upset us"! Walked around town + saw a "Ruca" — a traditional Mapuche home with these statues out front that reminded me of the Ngadhu in Flores [Indonesia]—representing female ancestral figures. Went down to the lake, saw weird birds + a spectacular view of Pucon. + another volcano in the distance. Been siting in front of the nice open fire in the bar writing J [girl he met in Indonesia] a letter + drinking tea after tea. Oh yah, I mustn't forget the 13 words of the day 1. warped — alabeado (alabear)] [...at which point he lists 12 more words + their translations].
Chile has the worst cuisine of any place i've ever been, except maybe Australia. These poor unenlightened souls! Meat and bread and that's it. No spices, nada. This whole journal entry is going to be one big complaint. The room next to me has this baby that's been wailing all afternoon. If i had the chance i would strangle the little fucker. He sounds like a dying goat, throat straining the limits to achieve maximum intensity + annoyance. Back to food.... had an egg + bread for breakfast. Crap, these walls are paper-thin.
There was actually some other travellers that arrived this morning but they weren't very friendly. So i took the bus here (boring landscape along the way) + checked into this godforsaken place +
walked along the river downtown. Moored at the river's edge was a big schooner just like the Adelaar [ship he crewed on from Fiji to NZ]. My blood rushed for adventure, the ultimate metaphor, sailing on the threshold of heaven + hell. Pulled by the dark currents of death below + blown by the heavenly winds above. Sharks are demons, albatross angels. The schooner had a New Zealand flag (or Australian, can't remember the difference). I sat waiting for someone to emerge, waiting for the call to adventure. Or just to talk with them. All the town came to marvel, a few at a a time, at this great schooner from foreign lands. And they would go tell their friends about it or go get their children + bring them back by the hand to show them. These bums were hanging out on the dock, really down and [... out—one of them had his hand wrapped in gauze and his shirt soaked in blood.]
[out at sea...] alone. He catches the fish, struggle ensues. And of course he cannot bring "it" back in the form recognized by people in the "normal" state. The fish eaten by sharks. Beautiful. Obviously Joseph Campbell is bearing an influence on my state of being.
Fuck, I'll never have kids—listen to that little shit! And I was down in the restaurant ("Que hay?" "Bistec, pollo... nada mas") eating bread + drinking tea + this other somewhat bigger but still little brat kept flicking the light off + on while i was trying to read, and crawling under my table + poking me to try to get a reaction. Should've kicked his front teeth in + said it was an accident, that i didn't see him. That would have shut the little shit up.
I had this dream that me and this black guy (who was also me, my subconscious) were climbing this building, actually the black version of me was, while the white guy was like a guardian angel hovering over me. I kept switching between the two perspectives. The white me was cautious, saying we'd get arrested, while the black me passionately wanted to make it to the top, even thought it was against the law. A cop caught us, told us to lay down spread eagle + gave us a long list of complicated instructions involving stuff like taking our clothes off + wrapping them in the ring on our finger. The black me got up + started telling jokes to the cop while the white me was afraid he'd get shot.
Check out these Mapuche drums... they have an intuitive visual idea of drum acoustics, eigenfrequencies + nodal lines:
1 of the photos he bought
[Strange that we shd be transcribing + scanning these photos now, as just recently we were reminiscing about these drum patterns... in thinking of a name + album cover for Sound Furies (see end of this recent post)], we were remembering the harmonic patterns formed when you do holographic interferometry on musical instruments, that we learned about studying physics. Our 1st cover idea was inspired by this:
the top row is holographic interferometry of a singer, middle row is of a guitar + the bottom row is of a drum, or specifically Chladni figures of drums, which are strikingly similar to the patterns the Mapuches drew on their drums (+ in quantum physics, the same patterns are used to visualize electron orbitals):
[... sorry for the interruption, we'll get back to your regular programming now.]
Puerto Montt—May 9
Woke up in that hell-hole with that baby screaming. Went to take a shower but there was no hot water and it was disgusting so i went downtown to find desayuno. Made a last check on the schooner, but no one on deck. Went back to back to the shower situation, but some guy was in there for a long time making all these grunting noises. And i had to catch my bus, so didn't have time. Finished Hero With A Thousand Faces on the way to Puerto Montt. I tried to find this infamous Raul's house, down this back alley, there were no signs or anything so i gave up + was walking along when who should drive up but Raul himself, telling me to hop in. Takes me back to his pad + suddenly there's a zillion backpackers. He's got them crammed in all corners of his house. I'm sharing a room w/ this British bloke C. I went down to Angelmo to get some seafood, bingo! Salmon filet + 7 seas soup. Angelmo is this quaint fishing village with a lot of little stalls selling wool goods. I strolled back along the bay and was befriended by a little black + white dog, I didn't even pet him, he just chose me to start following, running ahead, like he was trying to lead me somewhere along the seafront wall. I went down to the rocks for the sacred baptism of South Pacific water + walked along the scummy beach with rats + herds of scrawny cats. There was this old Steinbeck character catching fish and cooking them for the cats, while he drank tea out of a used soup can. "My" dog kept following me through downtown, sticking with me in the crowds and even followed me inside a travel agency. I had to scold him + tell him to go away + felt bad. Went back to Raul's and there was this old couple from La Jolla there. Just overheard these words of wisdom from the communal room: "Don't trust the people in Peru, don't trust the government in Bolivia + don't trust the women in Argentina." Back in the traveller circuit—a hippy German couple, a jockish British couple, 3 Israelis, an Ozzie trying to speak Spanish with hilarious results, etc. Went to town with a German guy named G. Ran into C and went to get a bite to eat. Our room is right off the communal room, from which emanates a never-ending din of Chilean TV, people socializing + practicing Spanish., etc. [followed by list of 11 Spanish vocabulary words]
Still in Puerto Montt, contemplating whether to take the NAVIMAG ship to Puerto Natales in Tierra del Fuego. It’s the last time the ship will run this route, so sort of historic. I'll probably regret it, but i'm not going do it... it doesn't leave until the 14th and i need to get back to San Martin otherwise J + Ñ will probably report me missing. It would also cut into my budget/time for Peru + Bolivia. Not to mention i don't have much winter weather gear. Been hanging out here eating avocados + walking around. Lots of travellers pass thru. Today C + i got a rowboat across the channel + hiked up the mountain that has a huge metal cross on it like 80 feet high. Nice views from atop the cross. The trail was weird, like a tunnel thru the bushes. Then back across the river of Styx (the boatman waited for us). Met these Canadian girls at breakfast who just spent 3 months in Antarctica. [followed by list of 13 Spanish vocabulary words]
Pto Montt, C in the blue jacket
climbing in the cross
Telemachus crossing the river Styx back to Pto Montt
Took off early from Pto Montt w/ C + 5 others staying at Raul's. Got into Ensenada around 11:30 + C + i found this room in some old lady's house + the others used it as a dumping ground for their backpacks (they're not spending the night). Then we set off to hike Mt. Osorno ((2652 m). It was about 16-17 km from where we were, up a steep road. Ran into that English couple who were huffing + puffing w/ their packs, then ran into an American politician guy who ends up he's from Palo Alto + is going back to graduate school in Stanford. I was really into eating these little red berries called "murtas". Osorno got bigger + bigger, like a huge cupcake w/ vanilla icing dripping down its sides, huge aqua blue glaciers. The ground was volcanic stone and ash and the flora eventually faded into this harsh jagged desolate lunar landscape w/ increasing snow. Then we got to the ski resort, from there it was a 45° ash slope. It got very windy + cold + the sun was going down. We made it to the end of the glacier. The view beautiful + panoramic—lake Llanquihue and lots of jagged peaks + lakes in the distance. Some Brazilian guy came running down the mountain, leaping + landing on his ass in the snow, hooting + hollering. He stopped + asked if we'd seen his son, but didn't seem to concerned when we said we hadn't. He made it almost to the top, to the point where there's lots of plaques + crosses for the people who had died trying to climb it. We ran down + it was good fun, sliding in snow, thick ash + lava rock. Luckily we got a ride down w/ these 2 Chilean dudes, then had a nice dinner. [followed by list of 12 Spanish vocabulary words]
view from Osorno
Telemachus on the volcano
Woke up after having a dream i was on a sailboat in high seas in Baja then came into a calm harbor + woke up in Ensenada, Chile. C left back to Pto Montt after we went down to the lake. Then i got the bus to Penilla which was over an hour late. I sat there walking back + forth on the roadside cuz if i stood in one place the mosquitoes swarmed me. Kids were taking turns riding this big pig. I tripped out on the fact that my solid presence stomping on the hard pavement could be accounted for by atoms, and photon yielded the image... photons holding the electrons + protons into place in the various materials. All this vacuous space with electrons + protons creating such a reality. And the towering volcano over my head, and the lake, and trees, basically the same stuff w/ slightly different interactions. PHOTONS! Photons are god. God is a photon, all the same 1. And my thought process is also photons interacting in chemical reactions. Zillions of photons in this little room now w/ me. The bus was a trip, suddenly i was on a Disney World full-on tour bus, w/ a cheesy guy in front of me providing running commentary in english, "on your left is Mt Osorno, etc." Everybody on the bus gawked at me like what rock did you crawl out from under. We stopped at these incredible waterfalls gushing thru narrow slots in the rocks about as fast as water can possibly go, swirling into huge green pools. Back on the bus i sat next to a Peruvian-born English dude named J who lived in Peru for 11 years—the type that bragged that he never stayed at a place over 1000 pesos (yet he was on this ridiculous tour bus). Got to Petrohué + ate crackers, raisins + peanuts on the lake dock while rich tourists had their lunch. Met 2 other Americans—T + his girlfriend, social workers from NY. Then D showed up, this guy from St Louis, who i met back in Ensenada. J went back + the rest of us went on the boat to Penilla—a 2 hours trip on Lago Todos Los Santos, which was unbelievable, a long deep emerald green lake rimmed w/ huge snow-capped ridges + Volcano Osorno + another volcano (Puntiagudo) that looked like the Matterhorn. Got to Penilla + they were shuttling us all into a $48 dollar hotel but i figured i'd walk around the "town" (about 10 houses) + somebody would have a spare bed + sure enough this cute couple J + F let me stay at their place for $4 w/ breakfast. D went on to Argentina, walking the 29 km cuz he didn't want to pay $20 for the 29 km shuttle bus ride. I don't blame him, but it's included already in the ticket i got. [then draws map showing the route from Chile to Argentina, on various lakes + stretches of land in between, also shown on the back of the ticket he saved:]
Crazy D is gonna just sleep on the side of the road, but i'll see him tomorrow on the next leg, on the ferry. Walked up to Las Cascadas and ran into an old couple from Oakland, the guy's an ex- physics professor at UCLA + Berkeley. Back "home" F cooked me some rice + eggs then i went for a drink at the lodge, which is just like Twin Peaks or The Shining, big wood lodge, very warm + homey + a bar w/ a huge stone fireplace. [followed by list of 5 Spanish vocabulary words]
Petrohué + Osorno
along the way
San Martin—May 15
Me levanto temprano el martes, F me hizo el desayuno entonces fui al hotel a alcanzar el omnibus. Estaba lloviendo bien feo. Fuimos 29 km en terraino muy robusto y un kilometro antes de llegar a Puerto Blest pasemos a D (crazy dude slept in a shelter the bridge-workers used). The ferry-bus was ridiculous.... we stopped 2 hours to eat after an hour at immigration. Then we went all the way across the lake just to see some stupid waterfall in the rain, then we had to hike which took at least an hour cuz of all the slow-poke old farts. And then back to the same port to pick up more people. Ridiculous. Hung out w/ D + M + K, the retirees from Oakland. K is an experimentalist into atomic physics + had worked w/ Schwinger and Feynman, weird considering I just happen to be reading QED! Anyways, finally to Bariloche. D + i found this little guesthouse, sharing a room w/ F + T. F is a Swiss guy that D had already run into 2 other times in Buenos Aires + Uruguay. He had a motorbike shipped from Switzerland + was riding it across South America. T is a deadhead English major from Santa Barbara. After hot showers + shaves, we went for the ultimate pizza + beer + had a good time.
Today was dia del censo in Argentina so everybody was supposed to stay home + everything was closed. Got up at 10:00 cuz the woman was harshing on me cuz it was checkout time. There were no busses so i just started walking out of town (in the pouring rain) + finally got a ride as far as the airport, 11 km outside of town. I kept walking and hitching another 10 km or so with no luck. Just as i was about to call it quits cuz i was wet + freezing + there were no cars cuz of the census, this car pulled up w/ 3 people who had seen me on the boat the day before (otherwise they never picked up hitch-hikers!). 2 Argentineans B + B, and B's husband from Florida, R, who had to be the most uptight anal-retentive conservative guy i've ever met. He was also kind of like the Latino dude in "Honeymoon Killers," but even slimier. He argued constantly with his wife, saying they were living off his tax money. He didn't want to live in Argentina cuz there wasn't a K-mart on every block. He was bald + had a thin strip of mustache, a clenching jaw, aviator glasses + sweltering complexion that looked about to burst. He was a retired helicopter pilot that sprayed pesticides, and conservative as he was, said he would never eat vegetables like lettuce after he saw all the crap they dumped on them. He described these agricultural valleys as being poison dumps unfit for humanity, speaking the while in an uptight argumentative manner + seemed to be self-conscious of me witnessing him being pussy-whipped by his wife + her sister, who were asking me if all Americans were like this R guy + i said no way, that i was far from consumeristic + borderline socialist (all in Spanish, which R didn't understand—which further fed his inferiority complex).
They took me for about an hour to the junction [draws map of Bariloche to San Martin]. It was still raining + cold + nothing in sight, in the wastelands of Patagonia. This uptight R guy was explaining his philosophy about how when he drives he needs a fixed destination + can't veer off that path or make unexpected stops. I saw a gaucho on a horse + joked that maybe i could catch a ride with him + this made R quite irate. But the sisters said there was no way they'd just leave me on the side of the road + even offered to drive me to San Martin. Despite the fix i was in, i protested, insisting they go on, as R was quite eager to do. There was an overpass that i could take shelter under if worst came to worst. But the sisters refused to just leave me there. Then a truck came along + i just stepped in front of it as if there was an emergency. They reluctantly shoved me in back between the 2 front seats, squatting in a very uncomfortable position. JC drove while D did the mate ritual thing. It was very cozy up there, drinking mate. They asked the usual questions, what about Iraq, whether American girls were really that easy, about drugs, whether Americans were that racist, etc. I mean, how do you explain such things, especially in Spanish? They were hauling fruits + vegetables from Villa Blanca to Junin + San Martin. We stopped at a grocery place in a military base + they seemed worried they wouldn't be able to sell their goods, on account of the census. Before we got to towns or known police checkpoints they would stop + make me get in back with the vegetables, cuz evidently it was illegal to hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. When we got to Junin I offered to help them unload but they said they probably wouldn't today because nothing was open. So they left me on the edge of Junin. It was still raining. I had 2 pieces of cold olive + spinach pizza (with lots of cheese) in my pocket + started to eat them, but it was disgusting, beyond edible. I stood for over an hour in the rain, finally this guy + his grandfather + 2 obedient blonde kids picked me up. He said he used to be a "autostopista" and that's why he picked me up. Why does everyone need a reason?
It was very rainy + dark when we got to San Martin. I tried to find a CB radio [his brother didn't have a phone, just a CB] to no avail so called H, who said he'd be there in 20 minutes. He showed up over an hour later w/ his friend R. They didn't want to call J on the CB + seemed preoccupied with finding something else. Went back + had a hot shower + sat in front of the fire eating + chatting.
San Martin—May 16
A place + a time. This journal is a collapsing wave function, as is travel. There ∃xists an infinite # of states i could be in. It's possible i could have ended up in Neuquen today, had i not received a ride. Then i might have possibly got a ride hitching w/ J as he was driving through there today. But i chose otherwise, i created my reality. It's constantly collapsing (but whether it's continuously collapsing is another question). Our past evolution is a collapsed wave function. History is also. I just chose to get up off this couch + take a piss. Flushed the toilet. But did anyone else see or hear me do this? Was there evidence of this event, or was it only my reality? Yesterday i was standing on the road outside Junin de los Andes. It was raining. There were horses grazing. Cars went by every 10 minutes or so. There was an unexplainable buzzing in the sky. It came from the greyness, from the rain. It was as if the whole fabric of the sky was about to tear apart. For is it really a continuous fabric, the sheet it appears to be? No. It is like the stars, the blackness is void. If we blank out the wave nature of our perception (light)(as colors) in the wave/particle duality maybe we'd see everything as discrete "stars". We'd see the lattice-work of the fabric. Dream/ reality—which is wave + which is particle? Could be argued either way. Like Schrödinger's cat, until we perceive it. One day while we were playing poker in Portland when i was ~8 it tripped me out to think of all the people that were taking shits throughout the world at that exact instant. That thought still overwhelms me.
Finally i've arrived, more than 2 weeks after i set off to get here. After hanging out at H + M's reading their books in spanish, J + Ñ arrived Friday evening. They got stuck in the mud + had water pump problems (it's so cold, this pen doesn’t work). We got supplies in town then continued on this crazy muddy road running over huge rocks in the mud, in the stormy darkness, to QuilaQuina. No electricity + it's freezing. Lit the gas lantern + tried to get a fire going. Huge house with lots of wood. I have my own room that smells like candles + has all these pictures of Sai Baba on the walls. L [Tel's nephew] is a rad little kid. After pasta + red wine we sat around the fire chewing the fat.
Got up this morning + herded horses out of the yard around the fence on the lake. Saw everything in the daylight, great "summer home" type of place on the lake. A dog Oso + a cat w/ a beard. J + i rode into town. The trees are amazing reds, orange, yellow, iridescence. Went to the hardware store, etc. where we kept running into all sorts of people J knew. Small town. He's got a great setup in his workshop.
Cooked lentils for dinner then decided to go back into SM for some concert that supposedly started at 9:30 but at 10:30 nobody was there yet. It was in this funky wood community hall. People started showing up for a bingo game. All very Twin Peaksish. They had a plastic bubble w/ balls flying around like random gas particles. Thermodynamics in action! An announcer called out the numbers, all very official. While this went on, some guy played trippy Jazz music on his DX-7. I won $13. After playing a couple of games, this strange band came out, talented, but pretty bad music. Latin-Jazzy corny pop. All very surreal. Afterwards the singer came up to our table, a scruffy wanna-be Tom Waits type, said he wanted to jam w/ me some time. Drove home on the cold, wet, muddy, fogged in road. [Bingo tickets embedded in the pages].
Day after day, i forget which is which, been waking up + helping J in his workshop. Sunday went for a hike. It actually kind of cleared up and the views up sobre el monte were brilliant. The cat followed us most of the way like a dog then i carried him the rest of the way. We stopped at this funky old farm of this guy M who had this ancient old ingenious apple cider press, all made of scratch from wood [draws picture of contraption]. We stopped by earlier + stole some apples when he was taking a siesta.
Oso + the cat that hikes, from QuilaQuina, below on the lakeshore
Monday i made a drill bit holder + a cathouse (A-frame) for the cat. I came back + made an apple pie from scratch, which proved disastrous... it took over an hour + wouldn't cook all the way. It had a bunch of buttery liquid so i tried to dump it out but the whole pie plopped faced down in the sink (apple turnover!). D showed up at the workshop (after looking up the ass of a sheep with a microscope (artificial insemination) and staying with some 42 yr old L.A. woman at a $225 room in Bariloche. [ink changes color] Fuck that pen. It's so cold it doesn't work. Now it's Tuesday morning 8 a.m., hot shower, quickly put on clothes before freezing. Still dark. Light the kitchen stove. Keep it burning. Leave before it's light. Come back after it's dark. Tuesday D came by the shop + i went on a hike with him, up the mirador above San Martin. Not too exciting. We started to Chapelco before realizing how far it was. So went to the cascades. First up a canyon, big trout jumping in the rapids. At an abandoned hydroelectric plant we could see the falls but couldn't cross to the other side. Backtracked + finally found our way across. Very geometric falls [draws picture]. Straight down then off at an angle water careening off a flat slab. I noticed the water was coming out of nowhere, from the side of a cliff. So i climbed up, gnarly climbing, there was a steel cable hanging down that i climbed up + sure enough the water emerged from a cave. And inside was a waterfall with a ladder going further up. But there was too much water. So D finally came up + we continued up the side of the cliff. At the top were these thick thorn bushes, but we had no choice (too hard to downclimb) so trudged through. I came across a big cement clearing and there was a hole going down with a ladder. Went down + inside was a huge tank, very dark. After our eyes adjusted we noticed the ledge ½ way down,. Hanging from the roof were these trapeze things [draws another pic]. The tank spilled down the falls that we saw earlier. It was very deep, dark + dreamlike. We found a trail. I heard a dog in the distance then felt something clamping onto my ankle. I turned, startled + it was a german shepherd biting my ankle. Totally silent, didn't bark at all! Nothing's worse than a dog that doesn't bark, just sneaks up + nips you! And here we were expecting to see a dragon in this strange waterfall/cave. We went back down the stairs to the power plant + to the shop. D came back with us to spend the night, but this morning i went to work with J + D went on a hike by himself. At the mill we bought lumber. Lazily men cut lumber on a huge saw, big exposed dangerous ones. Homemade, jury-rigged machines. They had a steel drum that was like a nuclear furnace where the workers would light cigarettes from. The manager was skinhead with a lumberjack shirt + an earring. Back at the shop i sepiladored planks + started mass producing little trucks. E, his partner from Colorado (who also married an Argentine) was there + so was O.
Last night I dreamt this guy + girl were chasing me through a shopping mall, trying to kill me. I jumped in this car with someone but they chased us on a Harley, trying to bounce off walls to cause a traffic jam. I climbed up this wall and was in an international airport + ran through the checkpoint cuz i wanted to be arrested. But they wouldn’t arrest me. They just laughed. I had the guy who gave me a ride’s license + they just laughed and made fun of me. The 2 people who were trying to kill me casually walked through + got on the plane. There were performers from the San Francisco music festival that I had seen before.
The night before i was on a plane to China but realized my passport was in the bag i checked in + i had to go through immigration first to get my bag.
Here i am in Bariloche sharing a room w/ J , Ñ + L. What fun! Look at uncle Derek in the bunk bed. I had nightmares of children screaming. Who in their right mind would want one of these little pains in the ass?
Backtracking... D stayed w/ us another day then took off hitching over the pass. I've been helping J at the shop, real routine, 9 to 5 except more like 10 to 7. Wake up in cold dark, eat mueslix, drink coffee. Drive on the long dirt road, we always end up with a load of Indians hitching rides, along w/ appliances, firewood, tools, etc. We stop at "Duendes + Dulces" to get a dozen pastries for the boys at the shop. E + C are usually there. E is a sort of "righteous" liberal but uptight sugarbear type w/ a beard whose stuck in the '70s, rightfully so since he left Colorado in '81 + has only been back once. J + E rent the shop together + share the space, but do their own thing. O is a quiet ~30 yr old bachelor, sort of Hemingway type that went to technical school in informational sciences but it closed down before he got his degree. "Es la vida" they resign themselves to say here. Just like when the peso evaluates 100% overnight. What are you going do? Again, that concept of "fair"... something gringos take for granted, but most places in the world life just isn't fair. He works (for about $1.80/hr) for both J + E + he's competent, responsible + hardworking. I scrape up the sawdust off the floor + dump them in a barrel to start a fire, along w/ all sorts of wood scraps. One day i made 8 dump trucks [draws pics of these]. The next day i made 9 little VWs. Then 16 pen holders. 1st glue wood together to make a big block, then draw the design from a cutout. Then cut out the shapes on a band saw. drill the holes w/ various drill bits to make them different sizes. Sand with the belt sander. There's a movement afoot to leave Bariloche, hold on.
(later, back in Bariloche...)
After "work" we'd head back in the dark, feed the dog + cat, eat by kerosene lantern, etc. Saturday woke up + went to this strange party at QuilaQuina school. Inside it was like a typical open house. Lots of Mapuche kids. Blonde L stood out as the life of the party. But the real action was outside. That's where all the gaucho men were drinking this tasty, but foul (vinegary) apple wine/cider + gambling, tossing this bone w/ 1 gold side + the other side silver. [draws pic of course]. Gold you win, silver you lose + if it lands on it's side, nothing happens. There was a lot of money changing hands.
They also had a big BBQ, bonfire w/ 5 or 6 sheep that we're crucified on sticks + stuck in the ground near the coals. Singing flesh. The men had big black belts, scarves around their necks + black hats or caps. Mapuche gauchos. We managed to leave QuilaQuina by 4. Travelling w/ J + family is like travelling with the Griswalds. Lots of losing keys, arguing + trivial things they kept forgetting. We got to Bariloche around 8 + i led us back to the place i stayed 2 weeks ago + talked them into giving us the whole room. Went out + ate pasta then saw Cyrano deBergerac (In French w/ Spanish subtitles). L fell asleep on my lap then decided to cry during the final climatic moment.
Woke up this morning + had doble corto cafes + media lunas in this funny hippy dive then took off via Cerro Catedral, to Bolson, supposedly some bohemian nudist colony. But after 4 hours of driving on a nauseating road, discovered it be more like "bolsa de espuma". The drive was nice tho, tall jagged ridge capped with snow + lots of waterfalls, or "vertical rivers" as Ñ called them. Loads of lakes. And we had excellent trucha con champignones in Bolson. But the town was rundown, spread out, dead + boring. There was a few health food stores + signs that said "nuclear free". Shit, I'm tired.
Yah, El Bolson was a shithole. But it was kinda funny cuz Ñ + i were being sarcastic about everything just to drive J crazy cuz it was his idea to go... "wow, check out that cool cinder block house with the tin roof. Wow! Look at those homely unfriendly people." And J was being defensive cuz he was the 1 who had heard it was a cool place to visit, trying to find something interesting to see.
I drove back on the road to hell, muddy + rainy corrugated washboard with huge potholes + avalanches + large rocks periodically on the road. We stopped at the only settlement within hours to get tea + warm milk for L. It was on a raging flooded river sweeping landslides + logs, sweeping under towering cliffs. The car was having all sorts of problems cuz of a wet rotor. It would stall, then i would restart it it would be stuck on full throttle. Made it back. Now i have this whole bunk room to myself and they got another room. We went to a restaurant + L was walking around all the tables like a talk show host, doing funny things to people, the center of attention. Luckily none of the other diners seemed to be too bothered.
Explored around Bariloche, went to Llao Llao (pronounced Jau Jau) + hard our picture taken with a St Bernard. Llao Llao is this big hotel [pictured above] that is now abandoned, something out of The Shining. A huge Swiss looking trippy lodge with 100s of rooms on top of a hill with snow draped cliffs as a backdrop. We drove the lakes then back to San Martin via Los Dedos de Dios. The Renault is seriously a lemon. First the starter grinds horribly sometimes when you start it. Then the idle gets stuck full blast, then it kept stalling + the fuel pump was all messed up. The heater + stereo are also messed up. Then the ignition broke, then it started going into these high speed wobbles + we figured out the rear wheel was bent + had to put the spare on.
[followed by a page of L's drawing]
Back in QuilaQina, cold as hell. Monday it snowed in town but didn't stick. Tuesday woke up with lots of snow on the ground. We started putting chains on when these dudes came by with horses. We convinced J to take a day off + went riding, incredible. The horses were more like Jack-asses (except mine) + had these gaucho sheepskin saddles. We dropped L off at C's. He was kind of pissed cuz he was enjoying the ride. Then we rode up into the hills, incredible combination of autumn colors, fresh snow + crystal blue skies. We galloped thru fields of snow, hooting + hollering. The sound of horses breathing, panting steam. A solid clippity-clop on rock. The smell of horse in cold brisk air. Following winding trails through creeks, O (the dog) running along side us. A most excellent ride.
We had a mild catastrophe at J's taller. We arrived + it was flooded with water. We spent half the day rerouting a canal + emptying shop-vac bucket after bucket + soaking up the rest w/ soggy sawdust. That was before it turned to snow. This morning woke up + it was freezing. We gave some Mapuche woman + her kid a ride so i sat in back along with 3 others that we picked up. The road over the hill was covered w/ snow turned to ice + the others were talking about all the people who died on the stretches of road we passed thru. They had red noses + cheeks + dark hair + wore ponchos. At the shop i made jigsaw fish [draws pic].
view from horseback
Friday i made tons more 3-d jigsaw fishes, whales like this [draw pic of angel fish]. Went to lunch at E's house, another funky S.M. new age vegetarian couple w/ little blonde kids. Fat Freddy came by and asked about the electronic chakra simulator (for E's kid that recently died of Leukemia). But today was the big adventure. Saturday, skiing! Woke up early, but then sat around all morning until 11 a.m. waiting for them to get ready. I kept telling them about a re-occurring dream i kept having about how i go skiing + the lower slopes are barren so i have to take a lift over that part to get to the upper runs. And then i have an accident that wakes me up. Well, this is exactly what happened. We got to Chapelco + had to take the gondola to the upper slopes cuz there was hardly any snow on the lower slopes. From there we could take chair-lifts, just like in my dream. It had me worried cuz i couldn't remember how the dream ended, except it ended badly, a premonition of disaster. So i loosened my bindings so i wouldn't break my leg, and was being extra-cautious, to an absurd extent. There wasn't much snow, but the view was great. They were skiing off ahead of me, then i saw Ñ wipe out. When i got to her, she casually said her shoulder was dislocated + she needed to put it back. J came back up + guided her how to do it, since he dislocates his shoulder all the time. We had trouble getting her jacket off though. She stood up + her arm was just dangling limp, hanging just by the skin. She started to feel a great deal of pain + dizziness + looked ghostly white. I put my skis on to go look for a ski patrol. I found a guy with a walkie talkie that called a guy who showed up on a snowmobile + took Ñ + J down to el medico, leaving me to take the lift down by myself, which was also straight out of my dream. J took her into town + they had to put her under to get her arm back in. They told me i may as well keep skiing. I ran into H + skied w/ him for a while. J came back about an hour before Chapelco closes, by then it had started to snow. We skied a bit more, had cortados then split. The snow was getting thicker. It was snowing even down in San Martin. When we tried to go up the road to H's but we slid off the road into the ditch + had to put our chains on. Both the cars that passed us also slid off the road. So we became a group of like 10 men taking turns pushing each other's cars out of ditches, in a snowy blizzard. My hands were freezing. Picked up Ñ at H + M's house, she looked pale, tired + worried about L so we went back out to get him. It was insane, cars sliding off the road everywhere. Our chains made this horrendous racket and we kept having to stop to adjust them or help push people. And going over the mountain to QuilaQuina was even crazier, we were sliding out even with chains, luckily into the ditch + not over the cliff. Barely made it. Picked up L from C's house. I made an apple-walnut-celery salad + a spinach onion stirfry with brown rice. Tomorrow should prove to be good skiing, or snowboarding... if we can get there. I flipped coins about my next move [consulting the I Ching] and it came out "keeping still". Hmm. But I'm leaving Monday, probably, regardless. Last night i dreamt of some girl (representative of Quantum Mechanics?) had had laser vision. She melted walls and sheet of metal with her vision. She was capable of extreme evil, but i tamed her with affection and seduced her. Some fat man watched while i had sex with her and handed me a rubber. She went off + killed him but had respect for me + wouldn't hurt me. I also dreamt i was in an earthquake in Chile. I was in a shelter and there was no food or water and lots of dying people.
skiing at Chapelco, minutes before the preordained accident
June 4—somewhere near Chilean/Argentine border
[in shaky hand-writing] Sitting in the back of a cold bus driving on a treacherous road of snow, ruta 7 lagos, though we've only passed 2 so far. Spectacular scenery, coppery-blue rivers + spiring cliffs, all caked in snow. Insane 1-lane dirt rut, i don't even see how the driver can find the "road" except that we'd know if we plunged off the cliff.
Now we're at the border + i can write since we're not moving. Just waiting with some other trucks who are putting on chains. Shit, if they haven't put them on yet + there's been like 2 feet of snow on the road, i hate to see what it's like ahead.
Saturday night it snowed more, so Sunday was an excellent day of skiing. Ñ of course had to stay home, but J + i went out, barely making it out of a ditch we slid into. We skied knee-deep powder the whole day, great quad exercise. Monday didn't do much except errands. I slept in then went to town w/ Ñ + L. They came to the conclusion that to avoid The Shining syndrome, they needed to rent a house in town for the winter months. Being trapped in QuilaQuina is enough to drive anybody loco.
Wow, what service! They serve you coffee + muffins on this bus. Judging by all the preparations here, concerned men breathing steam, standing around kicking at the ground, seems there's a storm ahead.
So that it's for San Martin + Argentina... the life of putting on + taking off chains, lighting kerosene lanterns + perpetually stoking the fire.
Santiago, Chile—June 5
Crossed the snowy Andes with the image of the Donner Party in my head, or that Chilean soccer team. I slept off + on as J + i woke up at 4:30 am to catch the bus (after going to sleep at 12:30) from SM. I got into Temuco + it was around 6:30. Went to the RR station + got a ticket for Santiago at 8:30. I started strolling around until some belligerent drunk told me "no te metes aqui" so i went to the familiar rincon naturista, where i used to hang a few weeks ago. The train to Santiago was surreal... mostly empty, cold + dark. I read House of the Spirits + slept sprawled on the seat. Woke up as the sun came up over the misty-smoggy valley. The train stopped at some town outside of Santiago + there was a lot of commotion outside. After a while (i tried to ask the conductors but they ignored me) i found out there was a huelga, railway strike. There was a movement afoot to leave the train, so i went with the flow. The masses gradually dispersed into various busses. I finally found one going to El Centro. Found this funky Victorian place on European-like brick streets, fairly cheap. Finally feel like I'm in Latin America, reminds me of Guadalajara. I took a shower + nap then explored downtown—Natl history museo, Bellas Artes, Plaza de Armas, etc. Met some crazy man who said he was an English teacher and asked me for 200 pesos and when i said no he asked if i liked cold water. "To drink?" I was somewhat confused. "To drink, bathe, lo que sea." I said no, that i liked hot water. He seemed turned off, scratched his head pensively then asked if i liked sports. I said i was hungry + went into a restaurant to get a bowl of lentils. I've never seen so many assertive + flirty women as there are here. Groups of giggling school girls giving seductive glances, even old women whistling at me. My trip to museo Bellas Artes got cut short cuz i got tired of all the giggling + staring. All the parks are full of couples viciously making out. Definitely lots of pheromones mixed in with this smog. Actually lots of soaps and perfumes as well. The whole city seems to be consumed by Colo Colo fever, which seems is some futbol team. Cars drive by waving flags + blaring horns. The backdrop of Santiago is intense. I kept wondering where Aconcagua was, but was not looking high enough into the air, poking out above the smog line. I got a good view from up in some park, towering out of the smog. Being in Santiago is like being in a smoky hole.
Spent a weird night in Santiago, woke up to sirens + screaming, at first thought maybe there was a revolution, but ends up it was just a soccer game. Colo Colo, Chile vs. Paraguay. With every goal i could hear the whole city explode in unison... "GOOOOOOLLLLL!!!!!. Horns blaring, pots banging. At 2 a.m. i woke up + saw gangs of youth out my window wrapped in flags, making quite a racket, climbing on top of things, tipping things over. You can't tell the difference here between soccer + politics. I decided to push on the next day but had to hang around all day for a night bus. I sat in Plaza de Armas + finished House of the Spirits. It all seems so real. The presence of the military here is intense. Police convoys always going by, sirens blaring, Nazi cops marching in pairs, causing illegal street vendors to scoop up their goods + run... only to return a few minutes after the cops pass. Most people are indifferent to these fascist cops, guess they have to accept them. I sat there people-watching, looking at each face + wondering what they were doing in Sept 1973. Hardened faces, they know better than to expect justice. And then there are those you don't see, the Mercedes with tinted windows blazing by, not stopping for little children. The political prisoners. There's still signs of rebellion, "Viva Allende" or "Libertad para Los Presos Politicos" spray-painted on the walls. They're definitely passionate about politics + futbol.
Once i got out of city limits it reminded me of Mexican landscape. At night we reached La Serena. This girl across the aisle suddenly asks "where are you from?" in English. She knew i spoke English cuz of the book i was reading on quantum physics and consciousness[The Quantum Selfby Danah Zohar]. She was from England and just spent 2 months in Santiago. I asked, "doing what?" and she responded, "oh, just eating and vegetating and spending money." Hmm. I went back to my book. I must have slept cuz the night went by quickly. Saw the sun taking a long time to rise over the Atacama, the way the silhouettes of mountains merged was trippy cuz i could see one line on the horizon. Eventually a harsh dry rubbly landscape was illuminated, completely lifeless, like a giant parking lot that went on forever. I got to Antofagasta and they let me off in some weird part of town, in the suburbs, not a place for travelers. I let gravity take me down to the ocean and ate some bread + watched the fishermen then walked downtown. Decided i didn't want to stay there, so i bought a ticket to Calama. Then i hung out in the plaza + walked around town, then down to the docks, which was fascinating. Hemingway types coming in with colorful boats, pulling in nets + unloading fish. While tons of large pelicans watched. It turned into an impromptu fish market, people poking at the flopping fish + haggling with the sea-weary unshaven fishermen. Then i ran into some old man who spoke excellent English and took me out for a beer, telling me about his experiences working in the mines and of the strange sea gulls that fly back to their nests 300 km away after catching fish at the ocean, and of a certain krill that lives atop some 5000 meter volcano in a fresh water lake that no one knows how they got there. Now i'm on this shit-kicker bus to Calama. These busses are incredible, techno-monstrosities. The Brazilians sure make good busses. The seats recline into a bed, video monitors, clean, and they serve snacks. It's like being on an airplane. They even have a cart with drinks, meals (albeit stiff steaks) and smiling flirty waitresses.
the port in Antofagasta
Didn't stay in Antofagasta, went to Calama and spent the night there. Either the altitude (2500 meters) or the floor wax + no ventilation gave me a pounding headache. There's no tours of the worlds largest mine at Chiu Chiu on weekends so shine that. The tours of valle of the moon, etc. were like $30 + didn't seem so interesting. And San Pedro was the wrong direction. I felt an urge to push on. I still don't know where i am going or if i will make it to Macchu Picchu. There was only night busses from Calama to Iquique so i went all the way back to Antofagasta to get a bus to Iquique. Am i crazy? Esta indecision me molesta. Iquique is a fairly festive town (100,000), had dinner at a chifa [Chinese restaurant] with spectacularly gaudy decor—checkerboard orange + turquoise psychedelic with horseshoe doors. It was funny to speak to the Chinese kid in Spanish.
The Sea of Iquique
oh undulating transparent sea
that plays on rocks neath my feet
where do you get your capacity?
the same sea we'd wade in
in Oregon to steal clams
the same sea at El Tecuan where'd
i'd sit on warm full moon nights
watching falling stars
the same sea that showed me death
for the first time in Mazatlan
she died in the same waves we body-surfed on
the same sea of the countless endless walks in California
the sea that holds the poisoned blood from that stonefish
the sea we sailed, that heaved + made me ill
and oh those tranquil south Pacific lagoons
like a giant imprisoned being trying to break free
from the inevitable collective consciousness
the pull of gravity, each drop
trying to rise above, up into clouds
only to fall on the mountains
to streams, rivers
to the sea
so cold and yet so warm
so dark yet opaque
whose waves never stop coming
as civilizations rise + fall
not causing but a ripple in you
from which we're born, we'll die
somewhere in northern Chile
I can hear "Losing My Religion" along with mice in the walls, between the passing of trucks. The third time i've heard this song today, heard it earlier in an electronics store. Fine song even if it's Pop 40, played the world over. That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight.
Let's see... Iquique. Finally got a bus after 5 hours of waiting. Went down to the sea while i waited, amongst subsidized low-income apartment blocks, garbage + starving cats missing eyes. Watched the tide rise between the rocks, it left me light-headed. The bus was hot + muggy, past more eerie ghost towns, eroded adobe walls, rusted out mining equipment + railroad tracks half-buried in sand leading to nowhere. The Atacama is the purest of deserts. There are areas where it has never been known to rain + where no plant or animal life can be found or has ever existed. Sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy. Sometimes flat, sometimes mountainous. But never any plant life, except in empty river beds. This one canyon was spectacular, huge + deep, but lacked the rugged erosiveness of other canyons. It was just a smooth valley, because it doesn't rain, no feeder canyons + erosion. The river comes from the Cordillera (where there is a river, if it snows up there). All the mountains are just piles of dust + sand that defy intuition as it seems they would erode + cause landslides into the bus, but there's no rain. Imagine that! We passed some geoglyphs visible from the road, but the bus didn't stop.
Got into Arica + was suddenly surrounded with Bolivian women in baseball hats when i got off. I randomly got on a bus + somehow ended up at the residencial i wanted to be at. Took a HOT shower then tried to meet the demands of my stomach from eating just fruit + bread for who knows how long. Ended up eating chicken to keep from starving myself. Woke up early today + walked to the sea, down by the trippy "jacks" anti-amphibious assault barrier, decorated with funky graffiti. And i'm crying for yesterday sings Robert Smith in my ear. And the tap drips, drip, drip, drip...
Went to the Bolivian consulate (was told twice i'd need a visa) which wasn't where it was supposed to be and was late opening. The guy in front of me (Chinese) had been waiting 6 days for a visa + they said it would be another 4. This worried me a bit until she told me i didn't even need a visa. Looked into getting a La Paz > Cuzco plane ticket to save 2 days, but the flight no longer exists. Se la vie. So going by land the whole way. I feel Macchu Picchu is the culmination of these travels this year. I almost lost sight of it in the pain getting here + all the bad reports coming from Peru. But fuck it. My bus leaves to La Paz tonight at 1 a.m.