18 January 2009

the end of the Americas

after three takeoffs and three landings on the airbus, arrival in Punta Arenas. A warm reception from Claudia and Carlos of Chile Deportes, the woman from the government sports agency who is hosting our swim. It's windy and sunny and about forty degrees cooler than Santiago.

a stop at our training-beach-to-be. Cristian and I slip off boots and shoes and nervous-ecstatic roll up our pantlegs. The waters of the Strait, chilly and a brilliant choppy swirl of turquoise and purple, tasting of salty kelp, slowly numbing my feet. the wind howls and screeches against the electric-blue sky.

The taste of seafood, locos and centolla, bringing out subtle nuances of the sea, tastes one often finds in the complex flavor of the water while swimming. by the second bottle of wine, 10.30 at night. the surreal cerulean light, tinged with indigo, of a sun that doesn't quite set at 11, and teases its way back up at 5.

the desolation, the strangeness of a city by the sea, where the weather varies from minute to minute in a perpetual winter that leaves a heavy mark even on the summer. prehistoric trees, strange groves, primary colours against the sky and Strait, an endless palette of greys and blues.

it's the end of the earth. journeys from east to west are dramatic. journeys to the extremities of north and south are another planet-- as if we hover nearer to space, in a world of wind, speed, cold, light.

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