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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

THE PEREGRINATIO (PILGRIMAGE)

I am told that the Latin word for a journey is "peregrinatio" (pilgrimage) and yes, this trip I'm about to embark in is very much a 'pilgrimage'. A sentimental journey, for sure. First, it's a trip to the beloved homelands of two of my dearest friends: Anibal's Chile and Roberto's Argentina. Secondly, it's a pilgrimage to the homes of the Poet, Pablo Neruda, whose writing I so admire (thanks to Anibal who introduced me to Neruda ) Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He died in Santiago Chile twelve days after the murder of President Salvador Allende, 1973.

I learned all about Chile, in particular those difficult times of the junta when Anibal was forced to flee. I also learned about Argentina from my soul-brother Roberto, who was also forced to flee his homeland during the junta there in 1978.

And so now, in their memory, I journey south to the land of the towering Andes. What a thrill and more so, what a privilege. How fortunate I am, that through my friendship with Anibal I also became a friend of his daughters (who live here) and his wife who I will visit in Chile.

I expect there will be a number of emotional moments during this journey. I have bought a little white candle embedded with tiny shells to light for him. I hope that Cecilia will take me to all the places he told me about, show me Anibal's Santiago, where he always longed to be.

I won't have time to get to Buenos Aires on this trip, but we plan to cross the border to Mendoza at the foothills of the Andes, in Argentina's wine country. And because Roberto was such a lover of fine wine, I will certainly be tipping a glass or two or three in his memory.

"Farewell, but you will be
with me, you will go within
a drop of blood circulating in my veins
or outside, a kiss that burns my face
or a belt of fire at my waist.
My sweet, accept
the great love that came out of my life
and that in you found no territory
like the explorer lost
in the isles of bread and honey.
I found you after
the storm, the rain washed the air
and in the water
your sweet feet gleamed like fishes."

from "LETTER ON THE ROAD" by Pablo Neruda