Clutching my oversized parka that I packed “just in case,” I boarded the minibus after 11pm. Everyone was quiet, except for the man next to me who insisted on practicing his English with me loudly. The nighttime ride seemed made for whispers.
The sun still streaked across the sky in Punta Arenas at the late hour. I could hear the wind blowing through every hollow it could find. As I neared hour 32 of being “on the road” without yet having arrived, I approached the sort of delirium that only long-distance travelers know of. I tried on the skin of being in South America again. Reviewed phrases of my once-fluent-but-rusty Spanish. Reached into far corners of my memory to string together vocabulary words.
The bus ambled along the empty roads that swiftly (and finally) took on the shadows of night. My whole body was sore from the 9 hours sitting on a hard chair at the Starbucks (the only place with free wifi) in the Lima International Airport.
As I get dropped off by the side of the road, I push aside fatigue to lift my backpack onto my back. I walk up to the hostel, and all is locked and dark. Swallowing the what-ifs, I knock on the boarded-up window.
An eternity passes before the door opens, and I am greeted by an enthused Brazilian. Before I know it, I’ve been ushered in to watched the futbol match between Brazil and Chile. It’s freezing, and I haven’t eaten anything. But a beer gets put in my hands, and that’s about to be my dinner.
So begins the journey across world’s end.