Santiago was – and still is – a city of potholes and bumps, impeccable highways and treelined avenues, with a soundtrack that changes with each neighbourhood. I found love for my local barrio and its colourful houses streaked with peeling paint and the ubiquitous graffiti emblazoned wall, but I also hated it, its appearance and beating heart appearing so different next to the fertile plazas and lavish apartment blocks that my friends knew.
At the risk of sounding cliche, Patagonia is magic. Where else can you see skies this vast, glaciers this ancient, wildlife this stunning or a mountain vista so dripping in otherworldly power that it transfixes you and makes it impossible to look away? Eyes just are not big enough to fully appreciate the spellbinding qualities of this isolated, wild spot hanging off the edge of the world at the bottom of Chile and Argentina.
The day is a Saturday and I am in the small community of Calpún, four hours south of Santiago and an hour from the nearest city, Curicó. Calpún is a blink-and-you´ll-miss-it sort of place, a scattering of houses that line a winding road in a tumble of colors. Chickens squabble on the roadside and dash from passing cars, their clucking joining the whirring of tractors and scraping of shovels. The wind blows fiercely east from the sea and causes wind dials to spin all morning and night in a cacophony of creaks and moans. The afternoon – which it is right now – is made of summer sun and gentle breezes and, combined with the smell of the barbecue coals, makes for a moment of pure bliss.