Map Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas at Austin

Sunny Days
The Clock of the South
Learning to Walk
Who Killed Neruda?
The Gini Coefficient
Powder in the Andes
Foresta Report
Moved a Little
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Sunny Days
August, 2014

“Welcome to Chile, Nia!” I said as the cross-border taxi dropped us at the bus station in the northern border town of Arica. "I've wanted to bring you here for a long time."

This was Nia’s first trip to Chile. For me, it was the first time since Puerto Rico that my feet had touched familiar ground. An ardent Chile-o-phile, I began coming twenty years ago. Over the decades I’d traveled up and down this stunning linear country. However this was the first time I’d arrived in Arica from the north; I’d come up a couple times from the south.

“Feels like home!” I exclaimed, looking at the familiar sloped roof of the bus station (why a sloped roof in a rainless place is beyond me). The city looked good coming in, like it had developed quite a bit along with the rest of the country while I’d been away. But it was unmistakably Arica, Atacama Desert city of surf and sun, a place that gets 3.0 inches of rain per century.

Soon I’d get to see my friend Luisa! It had been six years. She was expecting us; we’d been sending e-mails back and forth during the previous weeks. “My home is also your home; you are my brother,” she had reminded me. I couldn’t wait to see her.

There was a catch: I was going to have to wait a little, because her home was 2,041 kilometers farther south.

“How much longer to get to Luisa’s?” asked Nia.

“Um it’s a (mumble-mumble-mumble)-hour ride,” I said, coughing through my hand-covered mouth.

But she’d heard me. “WHAT?! Thirty-two hours?

Yes, I’d saved the epic South American bus trip for the very end. I’d figured we’d manage it better, knowing we were on home stretch.

I tried to sound nonchalant. “Aw but we’re not doing it today, Nia. And we’ll break the journey in La Serena, after twenty-four hours. Then we’ll only have eight more hours to go, and pretty much be done!”

This did not help Nia’s facial expression.

“For now, let’s go check into Sunny Days,” I said. “You’re going to like this place.”

“Are we taking a taxi?”

“We could, but there is really no point. It’s just a few blocks away, if I remember correctly.”

We hoisted our bags and proceeded to not find Sunny Days. After all, it had been six years. Finally I knocked on somebody’s front gate to ask where it was. The dude grinned and told us to hop in his car, and he took us there.

We dragged our bags inside just as a genteel couple were sitting down to lunch.

“Well, hello there Ross!” I exclaimed. “Hello, Beatriz!”

They looked at me like I was crazy, yet like they were used to this sort of thing. I’d never forgotten Ross from last time; he’d chased me up at the bus station with a sweater I’d forgotten, which turned out to be pretty important since we were headed to Bolivia.

Ross got up from his lunch and led us to a cozy room in the back where sun splashed through the curtains. “You’re little one is half price, you know,” he said in his New Zealand lilt. “What you want, one night?”

I looked at Nia, then back at Ross. I smiled.

“Better make it two,” I said.

Nia reclined on a bed with her tablet as I began to unpack.

A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door. It was Beatriz, grinning with a tray of cookies and mango juice.

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The Clock of the South

Two days later at noon, Nia and I boarded the bus, and headed south through the endless rolling desert. Within an hour, Nia had put herself into what would prove to be hibernation.

We hit the city of Iquique in dramatic late afternoon light, arriving just 119 days after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, and just 9 days before a 5.7-magnitude sismo, the epicenter-to-be of which we rolled right over.

This whole region is a ticking time bomb for mega upthrust earthquakes. Just off the coast, the Nazca Plate dives under South America at a rate of about 2.75 inches a year. The April 1st shake likely did not relieve all of the stress that has been building up since the last biggee 140 years ago. There is still a lot of stored strain.

The April 1st quake was big, but its impact was modest compared to the 2010 earthquake and tsunami that hit farther south. This was the sixth largest ever recorded by seismograph, and it killed more than five hundred people and damaged 370,000 homes. This past April 1st, only six people died, four of them from heart attacks. Also, 293 women escaped from an Iquique prison when a wall collapsed. But most of them returned voluntarily after things settled down.

Into the night, our bus continued south through Chile’s Antofagasta province, reaching the city of the same name in the wee hours.

Chile siezed this economically important region from Bolivia during the War of the Pacific of 1879-1883, and Bolivia remains keen on getting it back. A bit of a fracas occurred two months ago, at a meeting of the Group of 77 Countries held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (The G-77 is a loose coalition of developing nations, whose membership now tops 133 countries). During this meeting, the Chilean Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint when the Bolivian delegation placed gift clocks on everyone’s desks which were in the shape of a map of Bolivia that included the old province of Antofagasta.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca justified the “Clock of the South,” saying, “We have to remember that our sea is indispensable. We have to remember that every day, every hour, every minute.”

This followed on the heels of Bolivian President Evo Morales personally handing over, last April, to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, a legal dossier containing Bolivia’s lawsuit to regain its access to the sea. The UN Court's ruling will take years to decide, but it will be binding.

“Bolivia is very confident and hopeful…” Morales said in reference to the lawsuit. “We trust that Bolivia will soon have sovereignty again in the Pacific.”

Chile begs to differ, and prefers to keep all of its territory. For one thing, giving Antofagasta back to Bolivia would mean breaking Chile into two pieces; the two Chilean regions farther north were seized from Peru in the same war. Chile has spent more than 100 years “Chile-ifying” these regions. Furthermore, there is that little detail that the Antofagasta region contains the world’s largest copper mine. Despite gallant efforts to diversify, Chile’s economy is still about 55% copper.

Newly-elected-for-the-second-time Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was characteristically diplomatic in her response to Bolivia’s lawsuit.

“We are very clear that we respect international treaties…” she told Chilean Cooperativa TV. “But we are going to first analyze the Bolivian case in order to decide how we proceed.”

Ha! As if there is anything Bolivia could say that would make Chile willingly give up a square centimeter.

It was Bolivia’s turn to lodge a formal complaint last February when, at the annual Festival of Viña del Mar in Chile, a troupe of comedians known as “Los Locos de Humor” presented their recommendation for how Chile should proceed to address Bolivia’s maritime goals. After joking, “We must give them ocean so they can know what a tsunami is,” the troupe went on to suggest handing Bolivia over a slice of deeply southern Patagonia, perhaps something near Punta Arenas. “If they want ocean, they can walk!” the group proclaimed.

The Bolivian government was not amused.

Back to those clocks given out at the G-77 meeting: The shape wasn’t the only thing curious about them. Like the clock installed earlier this year on the Bolivian Congress building in La Paz, the hands revolved counterclockwise with the numbers reversed. Why was this? The initiative has been explained by officials as designed to encourage Bolivians to question norms and think creatively.

“Who says that the clock has to turn that way always? Why do we always have to obey, why can’t we be creative?” asked Mr. Choquehuanca.

And heck, creativity aside, if the toilets flush anticlockwise in South America, why shouldn't the clocks turn anticlockwise?

I don’t see why we should stop with clocks. Heck, why not flip the map? I’ve often wondered why north must always be up. Perhaps we've got the whole universe upside down anyway.

Whenever I turn the world map over and look at it that way, I get dizzy, lost, and confused. It's a good exercise in looking at things differently, I think!

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Learning to Walk

Our bus kept on rolling. Nia on kept hibernating. She was impressive! By dawn we gained Copiapo. By noon we rolled into La Serena, Chile’s second oldest city. During the whole journey Nia never left her seat once, not even to pee.

I woke her up as we pulled into the station. “Please check around and make sure we have everything,” I told her before I headed down to retrieve the bags.

I joined the end of a fairly substantial line and waited for the bags. Finally I obtained Grape and Duffle, and stood with them on the sidewalk. Where the heck was Nia?

Just when I was about to go back up into the bus to look for her, she stumbled out the door.

“Sorry, Baba. I had to learn how to walk again."

We had a relaxing afternoon and evening in lovely old La Serena, which included a shopping experience at new-ish mall down by the ocean anchored by a massive Lider (a.k.a. WalMart). There we enjoyed our first Subway sandwiches since Colombia.

By the next afternoon we were back on the bus: a fairly painless seven hour ride farther south to Viña del Mar.

Getting down in Viña at rush hour, we still had forty kilometers to go to get to Luisa’s house. Fortunately a commuter train now runs out that way, with Limache as its final stop.

We crammed ourselves and our bags onto the train. It felt surreal. There we were, on a train in central Chile, only a couple of hours away from the airport where we would catch our flight back to Colorado. Had we really crossed that continent, all that distance?

Yes we had!

The train finally began to clear out a few stops before Limache. I took a seat. Nia wanted to keep on standing.

“Come here a second, Nia,” I said.

She came over.

“WE DID IT!” I exclaimed, raising my hand for a high five.

She smiled and slapped me a solid one.

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A couple days later, if you can believe it, we backtracked on the very same train. But only for a little way.

How could we stay away from Valparaíso? The marvelous, mesmerizing old port city built on 42 hills; its houses all the colors of the rainbow. Paying a visit was at the top our to-do list during these sparkling days.

Valparaíso was also a favorite place of Pablo Neruda, Chile’s most famous poet and one of its biggest national heroes. I wanted to take Nia to visit La Sebastiana, Neruda’s quirky Valparaiso house. I knew she would love it, its stunning view, and especially Neruda’s character and sense of humor which infuses the place.

To get there we took a collective taxi up the steep winding streets. As we climbed I craned my neck, looking for fire damage, but could not see any from this vantage point.

Earthquakes and fires have always been a big part of Valparaíso’s story, but last April’s torching is now regarded as the worst fire ever. You could see the glow of the flames from Limache. It started as a brush fire on one of the hillsides, and grew to destroy whole neighborhoods. When it was finally brought under control after two days, 2,500 homes had been burned and 15 people had died.

Nia loved Neruda’s house. After we got done with the audio tour, she said, “Okay Baba, let’s go back down to the bar.” There she reset her device to the segment describing the little bathroom, with its see-through carved wood slatted door, which “only the most courageous would dare to use.”

After that we headed back down the hill, and walked the waterfront streets through the old old old part of town to my favorite restaurant. It was still there; it hadn’t changed a bit.

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Who Killed Neruda?

You may have read the news: A year ago April, a judge ordered Pablo Neruda’s remains to be dug up and tested to confirm what killed him. This past November, we got the results.

Ever since Neruda died two weeks after the military coup of September 11, 1973, the official story has been that he succumbed to prostrate cancer. But legions of fans never believed it. They were certain that Neruda had instead died of a broken heart.

And another subset of people believed something more sinister: that Neruda had been murdered by the military regime. After all, Chile’s most famous son was not exactly in the Pinochet camp. He’d been a close friend and supporter of the just deposed and deceased President Salvador Allende, and had served in the Allende administration as ambassador to France.

37 years of simmering suspicion came to a head in 2011 when a judge ordered an investigation into Neruda’s death, based on charges by Neruda’s driver that the poet had been poisoned. A further revelation by the doctor who treated Neruda prompted the order to exhume in 2013, along with an additional order to find and question the man suspected of doing the poisoning.

Neruda’s driver, Manuel Araya, insists that he hadn’t transported Neruda to the Santa Maria Clinic in Santiago in the days following the coup just for health reasons. Neruda's houses were getting siezed and searched. Araya claims the poet had mainly gone to the clinic for shelter, in advance of flying to exile in Mexico on that country’s invitation. Araya also insists that Neruda was not in critical condition on the night he died. He remembers Neruda telling him that a doctor had come in and given him an injection, which had made him feel much worse.

Then the doctor in question, Sergio Draper, came forward with his own revelation: On the night of Neruda’s death, he turned his shift over to a young, blue-eyed doctor known only as “Dr. Price.”

There is no Dr. Price in the registry of doctors who worked at that hospital.

Draper’s description of Dr. Price, though given nearly 40 years after the fact, closely matched that of the notorious spy-assassin Michael Townley, an American who had served five years in US prisons after confessing to planting the bomb that killed exiled Pinochet opponent Orlando Letelier in Washington DC in 1976.

Luisa told me something very interesting: She went to the Santa Maria Clinic, to visit a sick friend, one week before Neruda was there. She was just a teenager but she remembers walking into the hospital and finding no one at the front desk and no security anywhere. She found it odd that she could just walk around the hospital, looking for her friend, with no one questioning her presence.

Anyway, Neruda’s lab results came back this past November. Forensics experts found skeletal metastatic lesions corresponding to prostrate cancer, and traces of medication used to treat it at the time, but “no relevant chemical agents, no forensic evidence whatsoever” indicating death by anything other than cancer.

The case is not closed according to Neruda’s nephew, lawyer Rodolfo Reyes. He says there is enough reasonable doubt to keep it open, and is currently seeking orders for further biological tests for traces of sarin gas and thallium.

If they ever find anything, prosecutors will probably have a hard time going after Michael Townley. Mr. Townley is currently hiding in a USA witness protection program, in exchange for cooperating with the Letelier investigation. And apparently Townley has records that show he was in Florida on the night of Neruda’s death. He’d fled there during the Allende years, after killing a worker at a Chilean television studio.

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I feel it each time I come to Limache: a mysterious, bittersweet, soothing energy.

A lot of it has to do with the town’s setting, tucked beneath the green peaks of the Coastal Range. Above is the ever present mountain La Campana, “The Bell.” It was so inspiring to Charles Darwin when he sailed by on The Beagle that he came and climbed it.

Perhaps Limache’s energy is also due to the fact that it is such an old place. It is documented that the area was called "Limachi" by indigenes prior to Spanish arrival.

There are two theories for this. One is that it comes from, lli which means “large crag or rock” and de machi which means “of the witch.” This refers to folklore that when the Spanish arrived, the witches (machis) of the area resolved to hide all the gold. To thwart the Spanish, they piled it all up on top of La Campana laid a cap of granite over it.

Another possibility is that the name comes from Quechua for “people of Lima.” When the Incas were spreading out at the height of their power, they installed a mitimae, or community of colonists, here.

I still have never climbed La Campana. Why have I never climbed it? I wondered this too late, as Luisa and Nia and I boarded a bus and headed up over a shoulder of La Campana, towards Santiago in the Central Valley.

Beyond, the snow-draped Andes in winter shimmered in evening alpenglow above orchards of olive and almond trees, and farms of prickly pear.

I shrugged off my sadness about leaving.

I’ll climb La Campana next time, I promised myself.

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The Gini Coefficient

Luisa says there is a joke going around Chile that Michelle Bachelet is bad luck. The devastating 8.8-magnitude earthquake and tsunami of 2010 struck just weeks before the popular then-president left office. After moving to New York and working for the UN for three years, Michelle easily got elected again this past December. And within three weeks of her inauguration this past March, the next massive earthquake struck, followed two weeks later by the Valparaiso fire.

Hopefully Michelle will have better luck with her legislative agenda. But it won’t be easy. Unlike last time, she’s got a very aggressive programme and lots of promises to fulfill. Though she left office the first time with an 84% approval rating, she hadn’t been able to get anything changed.

You’ve probably heard about the major street protests in Chile these past few years. The common theme is inequality, in a country still set up with Pinochet-era policies aimed at keeping wealth and power in the hands of a few.

One of many big bones of contention has been education: Chile spends only 4.4% of its GDP on education, well below the 7% recommended by the UN for developed nations. Most universities are for-profit centers catering to the rich, and there is almost nothing in the way of government loan or grant programs. Public high schools are dreary places where only 45% of the students go.

Michelle swept back into power after putting together a center-left coalition and pledging, among other things, to aggressively reform education, change the tax code, reduce the wealth gap, and nationalize the water supply.

"I hope people can come and participate and...give a clear expression of the kind of Chile where they want to continue to live," Michelle said as she cast her vote. "The changes we need cannot be produced through skepticism."

She also intends to go for a new constitution.

“They (the Pinochet people) didn’t believe in democracy so they built a system that meant even if people voted for change, it was hard to alter policy,” she said. “We need a constitution born in democracy. The one we have is now illegitimate.”

She was talking about a system where, among other impediments, a 57% majority in Congress will be needed to reform education. 67% will be needed to change the constitution.

Michelle has also indicated she supports the idea of a sitting president being allowed to try for one reelection, so that she/he might have enough time to actually get something done. This of course raises all kinds of red flags of the Latin American variety: worries of Michelle Bachelet pulling Hugo Chavez, a Rafael Correa, a Daniel Ortega. But Michelle shrugs this off and most people have no problem believing her.

“There is no chance of that,” she says. “It tempts many, but I am not tempted.”

Quick update: five months into her term, Michelle has kicked off a constitutional reform committee (called the “March of all Marches”). The bill to gradually increase the corporate tax rate from 20% to 25% in order to fund education passed the House of Deputies in May, and is now in the Senate. Her approval rating is holding close to its inaugural level: about 53% approve of her, 32% disapprove.

So how bad is Chile’s inequality? The good news is that there is plenty to be unequal about. Income per head is up in Chile from about $4,500 in 1990 to more to $22,000 now, closing in on half of what it is in the USA. And, like the USA, it is quite unevenly distributed. After all, that's pretty much what capitalism is all about…work hard and get ahead, right? It's easy to see Chile’s version of the resulting disparaties from the bus window as you roll in and out of towns up and down the country, and roam greater Santiago.

But how does Chile's inequality compare with the rest of the world? One common measure, used by the World Bank, is the Gini Coefficient. This a percent score ranging from zero to one hundred. Zero means everyone in the country has an equal income. One hundred means one person in the country has all the income and everyone else has none. Gini coefficients currently exclude black market income, but efforts are underway to incorporate this. It should also be noted that income distribution and wealth distribution are two different things.

Chile’s Gini Coefficient is up there, at 52.1, approaching that of Brazil and Colombia, and higher than Peru, Ecuador, and Argentina.

If you look at the Gini scores for the countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of countries committed to democracy and free market which Chile joined in 2010, Chile has the highest Gini of the 34 countries, followed by Mexico and Turkey.

Fourth place goes to the US of A.

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Powder in the Andes

Wow! I thought, as I stood at the top of the mountain. What a way to cap off our South American Journey!

It was our second-to-last full day. I was standing at the top of the Tres Puntos poma lift at Valle Nevado, woozy after getting about three hours of sleep. We’d flown back the night before from our little jaunt out into the Pacific Ocean, which is detailed in the next chapter.

The wooziness added to the surreal-ness and elation. I felt like I was in a dream. I knew there had been a reason why I’d packed all of that ski clothing into our big purple suitcase and dragged it across the continent!

“Toodles,” murmured Nia, as she pushed forward and shot down the hill.

This was business as usual for that Colorado girl. And these slopes were on par with the best in Colorado.

I grinned and got ready to ski off-track into some powder. We’d been extremely lucky. While we were off in the Pacific Ocean, Santiago had gotten slammed with a torrential rain storm which had dumped a bunch of much-needed snow up here. Then everything promptly cleared up as we flew back, and we’d been gifted by this dazzling perfect day.

And the mountains were truly magnificent.

I often tell anyone who will listen that Chile simply must hold the Winter Olympics someday. This place seems made for it. The only problem is that it would be summer for most of the athletes. But heck, everyone could train hard during the Northern Hemisphere winter and then come on down! Many a stranger riding in a Colorado ski gondola cabin has had to sit through this diatribe of mine.

Although Nia cut her first edges in Colorado, my son Baraka learned to ski here in Chile. This was when we were living in Puerto Rico. Back then I had the choice of taking him out of school to fly to Colorado for a ski trip. Alternatively, we could use a portion of his vast summer vacation and hop on an overnight flight to Santiago. I repeatedly chose the alternative.

Here’s the procedure Baraka and I developed, which I posted in the blog of our 2008 journey. I’ve updated it to reflect current conditions:


1...Go in the Andes’ spring. After Sept. 7 the prices drop, the snow is deeper than ever, there are few people, and it is usually sunny. If you are there in high season (late July-August) like we were this time, be sure to ski on weekdays. Chile’s middle class has risen and a lot more people are skiing nowadays. Also, the best terrain is still served only by single-person pomas. You don’t want a crowded day.

2...Lodge yourself in a comfy value hotel in a kicking neighborhood in the heart of Santiago. We can’t recommend more the Hotel Foresta in Santa Lucia.

3...Pack a rucksack with snacks and ski clothes.

4...Get up at 6:30 AM and walk a few minutes to the subway. Take the red line out to its eastern end, and walk a few more minutes to the Omnium shopping center.

5...Buy a ski day package from the Ski Total office. You can get your lift ticket plus equipment rental and van transport for about $130 (high season); $100 for a kid. This is a significant increase from years past, but still a value price to become King of the Andes for a day. We think the best of the three ski area choices (and probably the best skiing in all of South America) is Valle Nevado, but you can pay a little more and buy a combo ticket that lets you ski around to all of them.

6...Get in an 8:00 van, ride up the 43 switchbacks outside of Santiago, and be on the slopes by 10:00. This part is a bit of a bummer thanks to increased traffic in Santiago; it is a later start than the 9:15 AM we’d logged in years past. Hopefully by the time you go, Ski Total will have moved the van departure times up to 7:30 or 7:00.

7...Apply sunscreen. Ski your brains out.

8...At 5:00, get back in the van and go back down the way you came, while the descending sun bathes the Andes and the Santiago valley.

9...Rest a day in Santiago, if you want.

10...Repeat. If you only have one ski day, like we did this time, make sure you choose Valle Nevado. It is just spectacular.

And, might I add, enjoy that crowded subway ride back in the waning stage of Santiago’s rush hour. Hang there on weak legs with a sun-blown face, look around at all the city people coming home from work, and think:

“Was I really just up in that wonderland? Did this day really happen?”

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Foresta Report

“Baba! This place is better than the Nick Hotel!” Nia exclaimed as she danced around our delightful suite at Hotel Foresta on the night we arrived. She was comparing it to our first stop on this trip, at Disney World in Florida.

“I knew you would like it,” I beamed.

Inwardly I thought, Yes...THIS is a big part of why I took you on this trip.

There really is more to life, more to this world, than Orlando theme parks.

As for me, I was overwhelmed with happiness to be back in my favorite hotel, my home in Santiago. I’d caressed the bannister on my way up (while Nia took the funky old elevator), and was now feeling the quirkily-papered walls and smiling into the murky old oil paintings. The best part came when the bellman pulled back the curtains: tree boughs sagged outside our windows, and across the street, the verdant Santa Lucia Hill rose.

Back in 2008 I wrote in our blog, with a big lump in my throat, about how much Chile would change before I made it back. For example, the Hotel Foresta wasn't going to be only $53 a night anymore, I’d written.

For your information the Hotel Foresta is now $66 per night, and that’s not so bad: Just a 3.7% increase compounded annually. Your groceries have likely gone up by about the same amount, probably more.

Furthermore, the hotel keeps getting nicer and nicer, with updated decorating (though I loved the old stuff), newer beds, and improved plumbing. And the neighborhood is just as awesome as ever. Now there is even a Lider Express (Walmart supermarket) one block down Merced Avenue. What a bonus!

And of course the best thing about the Hotel Foresta never goes away: the views though the windows, straight out onto enchanting Cerro Santa Lucia, the dear old hill park.

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Moved a Little

On our final morning, I looked out my Hotel Foresta window to see the clouds and coldness had returned, reminding us we were still in the dead of winter. I set my iPod to moody Seattle rock and headed across the street, to jog the half-mile loop around the base of Santa Lucia Hill, over and over and over.

We’ve made a good trip, I thought, as I ran my loops through the mist.

Each day we’d gotten out and experienced. We’d left our normal routines and tried to really look, tried to really listen – to the world, to ourselves. Tried to see it for what it is, as it is. Sure we’d carried with us all our filters, our blinders. But maybe little by little each day we had managed to break through some of them.

I sure appreciated having Nia along, and not just for her wonderful companionship. Having her additional set of eyes, her mind, her heart…had so much enriched my journey.

She’d been such a trooper. Sure she’d had struggles, with disorientation, homesickness, missing her mama and all the things she knew and loved. She’d been very honest and talkative about that.

But she’d also never stopped talking about plans for “the rest of the trip,” which we intend to kick off in January.

And thus we plan to keep on going, shortly after the New Year.

I kept on running, to the familiar music, around the familiar park, beneath a familiar gray sky. As I ran, I felt like myself…yet different.

I guess I’d been changed by these past two and half months. Each day, the world had moved me a little. Now it all added up to…a transformation?

It had been adding up all along I guess. It had gotten really strong in the final days.

This is the end of this stage of the trip. But before we leave you, there’s one more step of the journey left to show.

One more portage to go. And folks, was this next place ever a trip.

I don’t know what else to say about it. This next place totally blew me away. I feel it has changed my view of the world, changed my view of myself, everything.

As I write this, I am still trying to process it. But I feel that is what has happened.

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