One way to put Santiago’s winter chill in perspective is to spend a day researching travesías in Patagonia. To summarize a complicated project, travesías are annual journeys into remote parts of South America undertaken by faculty and students from the School of Valparaíso (an experimental architecture and design school); during these two-week long stints the teams recite and draft poetry, meet with locals, install a “work,” camp, and leave. For my dissertation I am researching travesías from 1984 to 1992 and today I went to Patagonia with the help of Boris Ivelic’s seminal Embarcación Amereida y la Épica de fundar el Mar Patagónico (Valparaíso: Ediciones Universitarias de Valparaíso, 2005).Though I’ve had the good fortune to visit Ushuaia, I didn’t really know where the other places were. My very basic map only reinforces the remoteness of these sites and makes me even more amazed that the teams carried out travesías here. I learned a lot today, reading Ivelic’s text. Here are some highlights:
During the travesía to Cape Froward, the teams raised a cross on the summit of a hill. One hundred years ago local religious folk erected the first cross to celebrates the Edict of Milan (313 AD), which established religious tolerance for Christians within the Roman Empire. Sixteen centuries and some change later, PUCV professors and students raised a cross that would be blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1987. I can’t believe he made it down there either.
Curious anecdote #2: José Balcells’s monument in Cape Horn commemorates the Cap Horniers, an organization of sailors who have traveled around this perilous promontory. There are associations of Cap Horniers in various sea-faring nations, among them Chile. As I delved deeper into maritime history, I discovered the International Association of Cape Horniers and their wonderful YouTube page. In a previous life I was a salty dog, living out my Wind dreams. In this life, I’m a researcher hoping to participate in upcoming travesías.