There’s nothing else like it.
The feeling you get around those who knew you when, the people with whom you shared the most formative, embarrassing, meaningful and ordinary moments of your lives.
Those with whom you grow up and whose progression through the life cycle helps you mark your own life journey.
Our time here in Chile has been an extraordinary one for many reasons.
One of the most important of these is that Dunreith and I are sharing this adventure.
That we sold our house the day before we left only heightens our sense of carving this chapter together.
Late last month we had the pleasure of spending five glorious days with Dad and his partner Lee in Argentina and Uruguay.
They’ll be coming here next Thursday after a 17-day tour that has them heading down to the continent’s southernmost point before making their way up Chile to Santiago.
They’ll also be here with my brother Jon, who arrived in Santiago this morning for a two-week stint during which we’ll do a journalistic project.
It promises to be a period of intense activity. I’ve been exerting a lot of energy calling and emailing to make sure we take full advantage of the opportunity.
I’m optimistic that we’ll do just that with a hard push.
And, mostly, I feel tremendously fortunate not only that we have this time together, but that we’re able to collaborate on work that we love.
Jon’s arrival marks the beginning of our final seven weeks here in Chile.
Dad and Lee will stay until November 21.
Aidan, who set off for Bali today after finishing his expansive semester in New Zealand, lands a few days later.
He’ll be here for a month.
During that time we’ll travel to northern Chile to see the desert and to the south to spend time in Chiloe and Patagonia, a place Dunreith first wanted to visit in 1977 after reading Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia.
We’ll also spend close to a week in Peru, including several days in legendary Incan site Machu Picchu.
Time with any family member is something to be treasured, particularly since we no longer live near each other.
Having that time with Aidan, especially in places where none of us will have access to the Internet, feels even more so.
Dunreith, Jon and I met at our place after I had finished with teaching and meeting and interviewing and planning.
We all walked to our favorite Peruvian restaurant, where Jon had his first dinner on Chilean soil as well as his Peruvian pisco sour. We made plans for what we’ll do tomorrow and the weekend and as much of the next week as we’ve got lined up at this point.
We savored the three types of ceviches, feasted on the classic Peruvian dish of aji de gallina and devoured the crepe-covered ice cream and the tres leches cake.
After dinner we took the Metro down to La Moneda, the presidential palace that was bombed on Sept. 11, 1973, the day on which Salvador Allende delivered his famous final speech to the Chilean people.
The massive Chilean flag that is so often unfurled and waving in the wind during the day was still.
The palace was surrounded by a wall marking it off as a construction site.
Dogs lay on the sidewalk, looking, and perhaps even being, dead.
O’Higgins Street bustled with activity.
The three of us walked to the site to get a better look at the front of the palace.
A statue of Diego Portales, one of the nation’s most critical political figures, loomed in the distance.
We strolled past the parking garage and into the cultural center and saw a large, open space where workers were packing up chairs and speakers from a performance.
We went out the back and saw a statue of Allende standing above words from his final speech, “Tengo fe en Chile y su destino.”
I have faith in Chile and his destiny.
We headed back to the Metro.
Jon stopped every few steps to take pictures of the dogs, of the political posters, of the artwork in the station of Chilean geography, and, after we got off at the Pedro de Valdivia stop, of a yellow public service announcement telling people to register their guns.
On one level, Jon’s setting foot in Chile bring just a tiny hint of sadness because it means that the finish line to a remarkable time in our lives is visible, if only faintly.
But that wasn’t what I felt tonight.
It was pure joy.