Category: South America

Villa O’Higgins to Chalten

Villa O’Higgins, a proudly end of the road town, angled cooked dirt streets desert thorny plants growing along paths linking the tiendas, the horsetack shop, a panaderia, a smart looking new community activity center. Curious, on surface empty but folks hiding from heat or the appearance of bustle, the border beyond and across no mans lakes and glaciated cragtops witness to the imaginary boundary between Chile and Argentina. I book passage on the two ferries for the next day, return to the hostal with cyclistas and mountaineers loitering against the boat schedule, each eyeing the other friendly cautiously suspiciously across the sport divide, climbers not nearly as cool as they hope and cyclists far dorkier than they realize. Swiss friends roll up in the afternoon, we drink tea and beer alternately, talk about nexts or who we are returning to and when.

Chile Postcard

There’s the seductive melancholic caress of misty rain against a backdrop of grey hills mist rivers wood and doom, everything inscrutably ominous. Headwind, steep loose climbs, then whispy cascades to congealing clouds around the corner […]


A long climb at the end of a long day. You knew it was coming, thought about stopping just before it and tackling it fresh in the morning but there are more hours of daylight so you accept the slopes. You left at maybe nine, it’s eight forty five. A half hour for lunch, a few chats, 20 minutes sitting in the early evening just to listen to the sounds. If it was a race or an event with a name that you registered or saved up for, then you would have paid attention to your eating and drinking, but this is a bike tour, you let your jaw drop and your eyes rise at the scenery, you smiled and waved at gauchos, you rode hard when you felt like it, dallied in arcing lazy tracks such that riders behind will shake their heads at the wobbly inefficiency of it, not realizing that their own paths are similarly precariously sinuous.

After a steep loose wet switchback you stop, you’re trembling but it’s not cold, in fact you’re sweating arms slick. But it’s colder than you think, your piss is steaming. And your breath. You’re in no danger of falling down really but you’re unsteady on your feet straddling the bike, your legs, not now turning, ache and are slow, unwilling to tense. You’re curious about the phenomenology of it, present in your attention but that’s what’s compromised so you wonder about observation but wondering is effortful and ceases. Your sense of your body as having a location is a bit behind, spatially further back from where it normally is. Perhaps it is temporally, too, like a drag on reality but you’d need an independent fixed anchor to discern that, and there isn’t one in your consciousness, could there be? (cf., Refutation of Idealism).