Chile, Isabel Allende writes in her memoir, "My Invented Country," "is as far as you can go without falling off the planet."
Yet once there, at times it feels you've done just that, tumbling across the solar system to land in some remote corner of Saturn, navigating a lake of frozen nitrogen in the shadow of the great rings.
Such as when contemplating the face of Garibaldi glacier, located, in the Alberto de Agostini National Park. Shortly after my soul-stirring encounter with Garibaldi Fjord, which I attempted to describe yesterday, the glacier that carved the waterway slid into sight.
As if that hadn't been wonder aplenty for one morning.
We piled into the Zodiac boats—stout black inflatable craft—for a closer look, skimming across the ice clotted fjord. This might be a good moment to say that I've been aboard the Resolute, an ice-reinforced passenger ship operated by One Ocean for the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, which has been inspecting glaciers along the southern coast of Chile. An RCGS fellow asked me to come along. I said yes.
I probably shouldn't even bother doing the word thing in relation to glaciers. Just post a few photos and be done. But even the photos can be deceptive. The Garibaldi glacier is 250 feet thick, in places. The glacier face meeting the water had to be 200 feet tall.
And as much as I loved Chile, Allende writes something in her memoir that made me glad to not be from there. She said her grandfather always told her:
....just as Romans live among ruins and fountains without seeing them, we Chileans live in the most dazzling country on the planet without appreciating it. We don't notice the quiet presence of the snowy mountains, the sleeping volcanoes, and the unending hills that wrap us in their monumental embrace; we are not amazed by the frothing fury of the Pacific bursting upon our coasts, nor the quiet lakes of the south and their musical waterfalls; we don't, like pilgrims, venerate the millinery nature of our native-growth forests, the moonscapes of the deserts of the north, the fecund Aruacan rivers, or the blue glaciers where time is shattered into splinters.Exactly. I'm not sure what time being "shattered into splinters" means. But that's as good a description of how being there felt as anything I could conjure up, and I'm glad to come from somewhere else, so I could appreciate it. Though Allende is Chilean, and she noticed these wonders. So I'm sure she is not alone.