Dec 14 ’13
Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport
Greeting Customs officials at Santiago, for their lot in robust manner and expression of disinterestedness, were not found to be so rigorously adherent to formality as promised, and instead the affair of entry proved a quicker, less intrusive experience than had rumour forebode. Although perspiring barely shy of comforts tether, it was an unblemished tone of indifference toward all things external, which met new arrivals in a masterly effect of silent pillar resembling, by the stoical saints of Chile’s border. For this immediate ferocity deficit, found trepidity pent a double expediency from my chest, as the actual docility of the event fell over the scene, bleaching out angst of the unrecognisable.
The funneling slowed, and thus pressing shoulder to shoulder with fellow cargo, the air thickened abruptly, already dense with warmth and wilt. Bon Iver, who I’d rediscovered on my flight home from New Zealand less than a week ago, incrementally swelled into the earpiece, the partner of which removed so as to hear the beckon that I could not translate by the gargoyle perched in a cubicle. Even if perhaps more suited to the sauntering landscape, his songs, in me are salient union of mellow commove and swirls of homesick reverie alluring best to the vagabond nature, who, content in his mortality observes thusly all things in its own transitory. Whose mind gathers flung and obscured peculiarities wherever, thriving but in present mirth and unable to further interpret. Who socialises terrifically with hopeless strangers on hostel rooftops, and who requires such melancholic melodic sedatives to better enjoy his gaps at home, and there recover at whim his travels forages in lonely reminisce.
At last a strange place to lose myself in. To drown that plain life of old in new and exhilarating threats, that seed wider awareness and deeper character, effacing in bloom the former judgements thereof. Time hereupon will be gloriously stretched and occupied with what role, or repose and rapture as fits any moment in its duration bathed. This is where an education can begin; in such exams as making it out of an airport with what I have, in territories unknown and alone. And suddenly all that I do not know is rushing upon me, yet knowing well that at the other end will I be, though exhausted to enthusiasms end grain, better of myself informed if nothing else.
Digestion of the line ahead suddenly frees me from a daydream stare, and with a splayed vista now to my advantage, I take in the percussive heat smouldering off the windows, through which offered a glimpse of the grand Andes I came to marvel, as they held an antiquated prominence, faded behind halation of humidity and blighted air.
There was nothing bothersome in driving around in colures and figure-eights, searching for my hostel that was not located where my map had indicated. Sifting the similarities to other South American suburbs I’d visited kept me busy in absorptive differentiating, collecting and reading over individual traits dispersed in the streets as we passed. There was however, at least from what I could gather but twenty minutes into the crammed activity of the centre, more in concordance than not. Such like grimed cobblestone stone roads banking into broken gutters, simple and unaccoutred housing alternating between modern designs of glass and steel, and bared faced neo-classicistic dilapidation. Graffitied stores with failed coca-cola signs, barred windows to keep secure the spoiled produce spilling over another night; thick power line cables hanging low over bustling mercados, and the unmistakable concert of blaring car horns and Latino-salsa-pop building and paling over again. Then there was the agitating torridity, bearing down in waves of unrelenting swelter, hanging layers of smother over confinement, against which the little air-conditioner could make no assertion.
The taxi driver knew as much English as I spanish, and made every sincere attempt to alight me to my desired harbour, stopping frequently to enquire with other drivers and passers-by as to our place in relation to the destination that nobody seemed to know of, or have ever heard about. Since he and I could only communicate polite trivialities, celebrating near lucky breaks and let-downs by reactive expression, it was a sure merriment of errors, majority of which glaringly mine that I was not so well prepared.
But then, O such is what enjoyment breeds. When the pear falls ripe to your feet before its due picking. You never savour the fruit as much when surprised with it. When much of our lives, and what is commonly fundamental to getting a living, requires routine. There may even be some daring left in thee heart, and an oversight thusly would prove it, wonderfully. There is never fear, come will the worst far from home and friends dear, but instead an everlasting trust in the retributions of the Universe.
My kindly coachman had while assuring profusely once more that we were upon the heels of success, exited the vehicle to accost some friendly English-speaking locals to my window. Travellers too, they were; confidently jovial as only unwashed, nowhere and no one to be, go-a bouts are. They smiled quietly and from the heart. Still my plight was not amusing to them, and I appreciated it, regaining quickly my foothold on whatever of my hopes had wavered, even if unknowingly at first the new energy was not outwardly visible. But fortune fled again, it was not to be. My friends could not aid in the matter, and exhibited a critical woebegone attrition of the fact realised. Myself, I exhaled deeply clandestinely, growing in private deflation, or so had thought a sufficient secrecy. Yet how this was ostensibly clear I do not know, and wonder how it is that I am at times immediately aware of the external reflexive physical testimony manifest of poorer emotional states, and yet bridle the better. In truthful hindsight, my automated response was more a symptom of tiredness than frustration, though perhaps my angels would know it not.
One his halo tipped and appealed honestly tenderly, ”welcome to chile,” and with it, were they dissolved into the same thin air from which they first appeared, – traces of good-will contagion lingering as dust in the atmosphere after, like a jest you’ll understand in time. Wracked, with candid shame, suddenly a review of the soul discovers, that I did not address my divine interveners respectfully as appropriate. Did I to this place, from a glad and luxurious life with me brave bring a frown here? What a nerve, amid such health and wealth of opportunity!
When finally arrived at the Happy House Hostel, on Moneda Street in Santiago’s downtown area, the largeness of it I found unique of what I have hitherto been practiced of in shared accommodation. Resembling rather a settlement period school-for-the-arts, with the impatient glare of an aged European administrative locale, rigidly functional and obscured thusly of its distinctness, enjoining directly to the adjacent building with hardly conspicuous divisions betwixt. Were it not for a small sign on the doors impressed into a cavity, the Happy House may have sat unnoticed. The room allocated, first on the right with double doors was a grand and spacious one, dressed in suitably vintage attire. As high as wide, and unnecessarily wide and Epicurean slanted rather, for a single person of an attempting Epictetian uprightness. One very large and inviting bed, two smaller opposite, I am unsure of the sizes. Numerous cupboards and drawers of ample carriage for an armies store, a writing-table hemmed by two cushion embroidered chairs, – that I liked quickly very much; several window rests under arched floor to nigh-ceiling windows with fold-shutter eyelids and dark heavy drapes to choke out surviving light. Plenty there was but nothing new, which was consoling somewhat. Came further appease upon entering the connected washroom, which displayed to me the precise amount of lack of contemporary embellishment, and a below basal efficacy I can be grateful for. With the shades sealed and bed-lamp struck, the room fell into an auburn shroud with sporadic tints of tawny refraction and hidden summer heartache; resembling where might an outlaw take pause in concealment until a dash to the border presents a worthwhile chance at a last hope in heaven. Perfect too, imagination supposed, for the addled poet with a penchant for the privacy of cancelled daylight, who can immerse the hours with but the wondrous outflows of his divine substance, and yet be not only preserved, but risen to a health past ordinary bounds.
I would need to make do, with my undramatic and beautiful life as it is, here on the ground.
I sprawled a city map across the coffee table possessing the rooms midmost, in mock scrutiny and listless concern for the trajectory of my impending walk. I panned above myself, withdrawing up in a circular figure receding, a gazing ghost portending the ebb and flow of the undertow, looking over somebody still very much alive and unsure of it. Taking the tide, I headed out-of-doors and right, walking around the block at first, then expanded my perimeter in proportion to my knowledge of the Brasil neighbourhood and beyond. Marked my points of interest passing through, attained my bearings and positional interests until lay the night its blanket and I made for home looking up through gleaming holes in its fabric. Preceding our fair suns collapse, of the first and dearer things I strolling saw against the burning metropolis form was a convene of young lovers two. In front of a ruined cathedral they embraced, happy passed of partings grim sentence, stealing in a braid down avenues I would not go, with none but a rose pressed between them, and every share of Elysium inside.
Needing repairs I lapsed at last into bed awaiting sweet slumbers progress, that soft rejuvenate of Nature, to close my eyes and submerge the consciousness softly into a far away lull of sympathetic vacancy. Came instead an absurd and separating anguish, descended and saturating a despair that could comfortably neither mirth nor calm budding penetrate. My poor eyes stayed open, of an end their watch deprived by the stirrings of my mind. I knew however it could not last, having been pressed this way before. The discomfort would not deeply permeate, nor invest root in the soul, – it was merely the quickness of the days rich experiences. An overbearing flood of new sensory delights, in the multitudes, every nerve moved to unfathomable rapture. The sounds, the images and impressions all swiftly, gloriously at once with momentous gravity outpacing perception processing. You can only let it rain so, when it does; be settled amid, allow the fall and observe the commotion come to rest; for reason to metabolize the information and form the proper judgements, so the soul can transcend its lamentations, and find again its peace.
The Happy House Hostel, Santiago Chile, 2013