I had nine days off - two for the trip down, one for the jetlag. Three for the park, one to see the penguins, and two to get back home. Halfway to Chile, I woke up on the plane wondering if all this travel is really worth it. We go, we come back, life repeats in the same rhythms and your days never change. Wake up, work, work out, work out what to eat, fall asleep and repeat. Seasonal depression doesn’t capture it, and anyways the sky at home is always blue. What, then? Loss of purpose? What is the goal? What am I working towards? Why all this boredom with the everyday?
In Santiago, we walked the empty streets, Sunday morning with empty stomachs. The bars were closed, but we would collapse exhausted in bed before they opened again at night. Jazz from a nearby studio drifted in through the open hostel window, and I tried to enjoy the music in the moments before the day ended.
Waiting for us in Punta Arenas was a crisp spring day. The kind where you can’t help but smile. The city fulfilled all my dreams about the edge of the map - run-down buildings and a mix of strip clubs and brothels make it clear that this is the end of the regular, the everyday, the prison of comfort.
Oliver K. Ernst
December 24, 2022