This past weekend, I was talking to a few friends who had visited me last July. Not thinking, I referred to something we had done in July but indicated, somewhat absentmindedly, that it had been over a year ago.
“Wait… you mean last July? That was not a year ago – barely seven months ago!” they corrected me, gently teasing.
The truth is, I do feel like seven months ago – that was just before I left for Chile – was at least a year or more ago. Profound changes in your life (particularly changes in location) will do that to you.
You know how when you go on vacation, you will inevitably usually lose track of what day it is at some point, at least in the very middle of the vacation? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it might be time to consider taking a vacation.) In a similar way, I suppose my concept of time was lost at some point in September and I haven’t been able to catch up since. Of course it doesn’t help to go from mid-summer in Canada, to mid-winter in Chile, to spring in Chile, to summer heat in a desert in Chile, and then direct to the dead of winter in Canada, where I still am now, and where the first signs of spring – an early thaw – are just beginning. (10 bonus points if you followed that sentence.) And then in a few weeks, I will find myself in autumn in Chile. Because of my cross-hemisphere travels, I haven’t experienced an autumn since 2010. You could say it is overdue!
Reflecting back upon the past seven months, or 33 weeks to be more precise, I have also come to the realization that the most important memories of travel in a faraway land – at least to me – are usually not the big tourist traps or the cathedrals or “must-see” cultural activities and experiences. The most distinct memories I have – in French they are, appropriately, called souvenirs – are not of those guidebook attractions, but of the small things. The quiet moments. The nun tending to her vegetable garden under the unforgivingly crystal clear and hot sun in a distant village in the Atacama. The group of young intellectuals, dressed all in black, sitting at a cafe in a small town outside of Buenos Aires at twilight, debating the contents of their pile of books that rested on the tables next to their gelatos and paninis. The Chilean dads showing their young children how to fly a kite on the beach on a windy Sunday afternoon.
Sometimes, I was lucky, and captured those souvenirs on my iPhone camera; other times, they can only remain in memory. And yes, still other times, I’d rather not commit some to memory, much less to photo, but they are with me nonetheless.
At any rate, this week I go on the road again. I want to thank you all for reading for the past “barely seven” months, and in mid-March I will continue writing from Chile.
*Click the “more” link below to see some of my favourite photos from these past few months!
End of July. Summer. Montreal (and New York, the last photo):
August. Winter. Northern Chile:
September. Winter-Spring. Northern Chile:
October. Spring. Argentina:
November. Spring. Altiplano & Atacama desert. Chile:
December. Spring-Summer. Chile.
January. Winter. Montreal:
February. Winter. Montreal:
To be continued.