you don’t know what the air is like in santiago until your skin is dark grey at the end of the afternoon. the conversation between smog and sweat begins at the alameda in late september — i climbed san cristóbal to have a conversation with the genie at the base of the andes, black and sprawling and threatening children’s photographs. there is nowhere for the air to go until it learns the practice of ascension. i asked heat which pisco sours it prefers. “egg whites are dry, of course.” ah, ya like bodies under the stadium, like cumbia that costs too much. guanacos in the intersection as rule and exception; i can taste thursday air even still. the andes have more names than i will on my finest day watching mud stream down from the canyon.
summer daylight in punta arenas is hard and clean. what is lacked in brightness is compensated for in symmetry; the strait sings quietly, still barely audible at souvenir stands on the plaza de armas. the wind is threaded through mirrored glass, or whatever it is that stands in for the ozone layer in a place so close to passing meteors and the idle threat of a glacial speck of cancer. to climb a concrete staircase is to move both forward and backward vis a vis the promise of antarctica.
travel tips: cross magellan in the rain to hide from giants when the sun sparks fires at their feet, know that seasons are inverted in pursuit of static, scale tracks built of failed revolutions in the mountains. find shackleton and buy him a drink. learn croatian.
a city of grey bricks and measured breath, inhaling the memory of snow, exhaling its anticipation.