Trip Start Feb 11, 2008
13Trip End Mar 2008
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Ramón has made himself the worldwide expert on Neruda´s flee. He has been researching it since the 1980´s and has led treks across the route a few occasions. He is Mapuche Indian. These lands are his people´s lands and he knows these mountains because they are is backyard
He calls these events and even entitled a book, "A route through the wilderness, a way to freedom." The mayor gives a brief talk, young musicians play inspirational music, and some of Chile´s finer poets, including Sergio Mansilla perform. I admit that I had difficulty paying close attention throughout. Listening to poetry is hard for me and when it´s not in English and spoken with a slurring Chilean accent it becomes harder. On top of that, I was exhausted, very hungry, and somewhat embarrassed about my disheveled appearance. Nevertheless Ramón mentioned me in his speech the 30 or so people attending as the North American Journalist and I tipped by Brazilian jungle battalion hat to them. Afterwards, we had a reception of wine and hors d'oeuvres. I scarfed down everything that didn´t have meat and quickly became tipsy. I stopped caring about my appearance and chatted up Ramón and others.
The plan was to take a van the next morning, hike a few miles, camp, and then go the rest of the way to the border the following day. He said going into Argentina was impossible because he had not been authorized to so. In 2010 he hoped to gain that permission from the officials of each country. Although I hadn´t even bought food for the trek yet and was drunk and tired, I figured I do the trek with them, and then when they turned back at the border, I´d scoot across it and find my way to San Martin de Los Andes, where Neruda ended up.
That night, Rebeca and Ramón were kind enough to feed us more bread and we chatted until around 3AM. Miles and I slept on their living room floor for a few hours.