December 29th, 2009

We boarded the 350 foot ferry in Porto Montt, a ratty city that really only serves as a port. We all arrived in the check-in building a good 4 hours before the ship was scheduled to set sail. By stroke of luck, I was in close proximity to two couples who seemed like fun. One was from England and one was from Seattle. This made for a grand total of 4 nice couples that I would know on this ship. The first two I met over a week ago, one in Pucon (from England) and another in Bariloche (from Israel). The Israeli couple proclaimed that they would be the only couple of their kind on this boat. They made this prediction based on their confidence in the predictability of their race. They were right. And I was proud of them for breaking the mold.

I knew things were going to heat up on this boat. I knew that bonds would be made based on the artificial environment that we would be living in for the next 4 days. What if you had to be around the same 200 people for 96 hours, on a boat? But to tell you the truth, my luck had already changed in Puerto Varas, where people seemed much more open and kind as a majority for the first time in South America. I hoped that this deliberate desolate direction would bring folks that were welcoming of others. I was surprised it took so long to ring true.

Fair weather travelers, those are the ones that stick to their pre-set groups and their lonely planets guide books. But something was distinctly different about South America; something that I couldn’t put my finger on. And then, like an omen, a late twenties dutch man said it plain and simple. “They are older.” Of course, why couldn’t I think of that. “By the time that most people travel to South America, they have already been on a bunch of trips. They aren’t as lusty over the rush of meeting other travelers.” Yes but does this mean that I am also less enthusiastic about meeting other travelers? I don’t think so, but it is possible that I am in fact getting over it, but don’t even realize how my signals have changed.

Nope, I think that since my progression of continental take overs have been in the same trip, that I still appreciate a good conversation with a random person.

We board the boat and our sleeping quarters seem like a identical labyrinth, but somehow, I seem to find a way to find my bed after the third night. We go through good seas and bad, many meals and many laughs. Cold days and steaming hot patches of sun. We even pass a glacier that is 90 meters tall at the face. But there were exactly two moments that I wish to never forget. The first of which takes this title.

The first day’s sun set took a particular behavior that I have never quite seen. As a matter of a miracle, on Christmas Day, I almost got to touch a sun set. Now what do I mean by that anyway?

How many thousands of peach and purple, red and yellow cloud soaked skies have you enjoyed in your gifted life? Probably in the hundreds if you open your eyes every once in a while.

Now how often have you almost been able to reach out and touch those clouds? I cam within what seemed like 50 feet in fact. Did the boat fly? Nope, thanks to the Patagonian weather systems, you can easily have high clouds in the distance and extremely low ones right next to you. The high clouds blocked out the sun completely, but light made its way across the sky and the low clouds above out boat caught them like a catchers mitt.
Gentle peach cotton candy stretched over the boat like a warm blanket. The whole sky dark, it held it’s breath for the blanket to protect us from the onward squall.

The second moment was another one of my world famous all alone moments, but this time it was by mistake. This time, after a rousing game of South American bingo; after the dance floor was too hot to stay inside for; I stepped outside to get some air. I made my way towards the front of the boat in what I believed to be the darkness of 10:30pm. Much to my delight, as I reached the front of the boat, I saw a bold faced cry from the coming sky. This Day Was Not Done.

There was life to be lived. Yet the rest of the world seemed dark, the coming stage a mile ahead, in the raging fjords was bright with black and white contrast. The local sky was covered with a thick blanket of night as the future barrel of our paths was vivid with a down pour in the left and staggeringly sharp cliffs to the right. Everyone was either inside dancing or sleeping when I came upon this dramatic scene. It was silent in this moment, sans the eerie huming of the radar 20 feet above me. I found myself caught in the same trance that a vampire might have induced on its prey. Infatuated just enough with the scene, to ignore the eminent downpour as well as the ice inspired air. Too perfectly unique to ruin by runing inside to share; I took a selfish posture. This moment was all mine.

Not since Turkey have I seen such a masterful use of black and white. These two moments and these two moments alone, made my Navimag trip unforgeable.