Thursday, August 31, 2006

Around Santiago In One Sunset

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Saturday, January 21, 2006

There was about 20 minutes of sunlight left and I had to get out of my house. For years, the only possible answer to these impulses was to grab de bycicle and try to get to some interesting place.

In twenty minutes I used to be able arrive --panting-- at the hill behind Cerro Calán, still more or less undeveloped and free of houses, and stay and watch the sunset, or what was left of it.

Now, things have changed. Those same twenty minutes give me enough time to cross Santiago, chasing the orange ball of a summer sun.

And that's what I did. I put on jeans, got dressed for riding the motorbike, and set off. I went down Av. Kennedy, which during this time of year and at this time places the sun dead ahead, blinding you. By the time I got to Américo Vespucio, the sun had already gone down behind Cerro San Cristóbal. I turned onto Vespucio, then the winding road down to La Pirámide. Without realising it, I begun a circuit that I had never before completed.

I passed the Pan-American Highway, now called Autopista Central, and thought of that enormous and flat Quilicura plain, north of Santiago, and Chicureo: today I wouldn't be riding through it. A few days ago I had stopped on the edge of gigantic flats and open spaces, to watch the silhouettes of the planes land at Pudahuel Airport. Not today. Today I'd ride on.

I passed the turnoff to Viña del Mar, the beach, the airport; I peered out over green fields towards the airport from where I'll set off in a few weeks to have my balls freeze off, riding in a big aluminium-and-plastic winged sausage.

I passed the turnoff to the (Independent Republic of) Maipú, and carried on, and on, the sun already below the horizon, a lilac sky, purple, slowly turning as I passed the midpoint of my gigantic circular journey.

Again the Pan-American Highway, here called the Ruta 5 Sur. Av. Grecia is announced to be 22 km off, Av. Grecia is announced to be 17 km off. The mountains, closer now, dark, familiar territory. Now the sunset's afterglow is on my left, I'm on the final stretch, the last bit of 100 km/h highway before I enter the urban section of Américo Vespucio.

A traffic light, the first traffic light that I've seen since I set off down Av. Kennedy. Almost dark now, the memory of the incredible smells that I rode through on each cardinal point of my circuit.

Under what could be called the last remaining glow of the sunset, I took Av. Kennedy again, and went home.

I'd been around Santiago in one sunset.



Post a Comment

<< Home