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Final Destination

August 8, 2013

I’m back home. I’m back in summer, back in my apartment, back to work concerns, and my ever-complicated social life. I’ve shaved my legs, done my laundry, and plucked everything that needed plucking. And everything is back to normal. But South America changed me, and I hope the change is lasting.

I spent a day in Santiago before my journey came to a close. It is a cosmopolitan city. Though Lima is as well, Santiago felt like a European city. I ate well and had wonderful coffee as I wondered the streets. With only a little time, I did some power sightseeing – Santa Lucia Hill and the estate at its summit; the large San Cristobal Hill with its virgin statue at its top (I took the funicular in this case);  and the Soho of Santiago, the Barrio Bellavista, which had beautifully graffitied buildings and outstanding people watching.

Bellavista also claims the Santiago home of the poet and activist Pablo Neruda. I’m not a house tour girl, but it felt like a don’t miss this kind of place. He built the home as a secret love nest for the woman who would become his third, and most beloved, wife, Mathilda. It was a great. I only have a very cursory understanding of Chile’s recent politics and I learned about Neruda’s political life and even more interesting about the bravery of Mathilda following Neruda’s death in 1973. Mathilda redecorated the house following Neruda’s death (she had to, as Pinochet’s people had ransacked it) and her taste ran heavily towards 70s mod. I would move in tomorrow and not change a thing.

Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and his social network, I learned an old colleague lives in Santiago now and I the last thing I did in South America was sit down with him for lunch and a couple of beers. It has been a month since I’ve seen a face that I knew before July and it was a great treat. He is someone I liked then and I like him more now.  It also prepared me for conversations about things other than walking poles and canteens.

Happy and excited to come home, I headed for the airport. A few hours and an airplane snooze later I was in Brooklyn and then drinking beer in the East Village. Nothing had changed and everything had.

I am excited to soak in a little more summer – Tanglewood here I come – and to welcome the fall. I’m looking forward to a heavy work scheduled and to seeing my friends in the US.

But I’m really looking forward to the next trip. What should it be?

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