There is a long country named Chile. It ranges North-South more than East-West, over desert, plains, forests, mountains and ice. Many kinds of people fit within its limits, which is explained at the end.
There is also an Islamist group from Somalia called Shabab al-Mujahideen. They do battle with their government to take control and govern according to a radical vision of Islam.
They want to do this in Chile too, according to a news transcript of the channel Al-Jazeera on December 20th.
Reporter: “This is the city of Marka, which is located 90 km from Mogadishu. This is one of the few places controlled by the Shabab Al-Mujahideen, who filled a political vacuum, while they continue to fight in Mogadishu. Shabab Al-Mujahideen controls large parts of the center of Somalia, and they are growing stronger day by day.”
Ibrahim Al-Maqdasi: “We want to inform Bush and our rivals about our real intentions. We will establish Islamic rule from Alaska and Chile to South Africa, and from Japan to Russia. Beware, we are coming.”
Where in Chile would they begin? I don’t know, maybe Santiago. Maybe they think that they could start with the immigrant groups whose mother countries practice Islam, like Palestine, and try and mimick Che Guevara-like attempts at revolution in Bolivia. A recent photo album email was circulated by the Chilean Victor Abujatum (which came from Karen Garib Bravo) documenting dead and alive children in the war in Gaza.
But that is nothing to really pay attention to when there is entertainment like the Dakar Rally to pay attention to, a thousands of miles race which from its traditional racing grounds in Northern Africa because of terrorist threats was shifted to the mountains and shrubs of Chile and Argentina.
Unfortunately the race stayed in the north after coming from Buenos Aires, to Neuquen, to Mendoza, to Valparaiso, and then up to La Serena and Copiapo, before departing for Argentina for the trip back. Chaleco Lopez is your Chilean to follow in this matter.
Alas, there are other, worthwhile, adventures to follow, like the self-supporting kayaking trip around a portion of Antarctica by Cristian Donoso, a friend, lawyer and explorer from Santiago, who has sprung is expedition career after a 2007 win of the Rolex Award for Excellence which gave him funding and prestige to launch his audacious tests of endurance and planning.
From the ruins of the HMS Wager (1741), just south of the Golfo de Penas, and ancient kayak portage trails of the Kaweshkar people, he has now set off to the Antarctic Peninsula where he will kayak 550 miles without assistance or resupply. Track Cristian’s progress here. From his website:
This trip will be the longest unsupported sea kayaking expedition realized in Antarctica.
During the first month, the expeditionaries will circumnavigate the Anvers and Brabant Islands, first seen in February 1820 by the United States citizen Nathaniel Palmer, on the voyage where he discovered Antarctica. During this first 300 nautical miles stage, we will do a meticulous survey of the North coast of the Anvers Island, barely explored due to its countless rocks, small islands and shallow waters exposed to the open sea, which makes it a dangerous place to incursion in larger vessels. We will also explore the cliffy nooks of Brabant Island, and we will visit the bases, Lockroy, England; Palmer, U.S.A; and Islas Melchior, Argentina.
On the second month we will explore the Danco coast fjords, as deep as the ice floes allow it, navigating nearly 200 nautical miles between the Chilean base, Gabriel Gonzalez and the Argentinean Primavera base. From that coast – which’s name remembers the unfortunate Lieutenant Danco, from the Gerlache expedition- We will cross to Trinidad Island circumnavigating and exploring its coast until we reach the Mikkelsen Bay, where we will be picked up at the end of February by the Antarctic Dream, to return to the American continent.
During this first month he met up with Jon Bowermaster, a world-class kayaker and explorer who once lived in the south of Chile, the way south. Bowermaster is on his own Antarctic kayak expedition. You can find more out about the way south in this blog by a woman struggling to find her reasons to persist in the cold, wet and often desolate environs of Patagonia.
Bowermaster told me at one point that his primary interest in exploration these days is seeing:
“what the map of the world looks like early in the 21st century” and drawing attention to rarely reached corners of the earth for those who can’t get there.
“There is plenty of room for adventure for adventure’s sake, and I think we have all done that, but I think it is becoming less and less relevant,” he said. “I mean, how many more times do we need to know about someone climbing a tall mountain? I think it’s a great accomplishment, but it really doesn’t speak to the greater picture.”
What is that greater picture, one might ask?
I can only send you to Henry Miller, the banned author famous for his 1934 Paris-based novel Tropic of Cancer. From his perch drinking coffee or Pernoud on Montparnasse, guzzling wine “like rubies”, or as a cut-rate and sometime drunk copy-editor musing about Matisse and his sculptures that could be found up womens skirts, he railed against the illusions of societal grandeur and the distortions created by apparent modernity. He craved the animal way, raw and hungry. That might be a lesson for Chile, a country caught between the animal way and the modern way, the fruit stall or the hipermercado, schoolyard blowjobs or an attempted banning of contraception, anarchy or Opus Dei, bicycles or cars, the flowers of the valley or the conquest of the summits.
What was it that Henry Miller called himself? “The Greatest Patagonian alive.” In a nod to the extinct indigenous groups covered in furs who buried their meat in the ground and for warmth kept never-ending fires on the Tierra del Fuego at the end of the earth, and the end of Chile.
In The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945), written after a road-trip across America, Miller continues his assault on modernity: “This world which is in the making fills me with dread… It is a world suited for monomaniacs obsessed with the idea of progress – but a false progress, a progress which stinks. It is a world cluttered with useless objects which men and women, in order to be exploited and degraded, are taught to regard as useful. The dreamer whose dreams are non-utilitarian has no place in this world. Whatever does not lend itself to being bought and sold, whether in the realm of things, ideas, principles, dreams, or hopes, is debarred. In this world the poet is anathema, the thinker a fool, the artist an escapist, the man of vision a criminal.” Consciously in retreat from what he saw as a cancerous civilisation, Miller began to call himself ‘the Patagonian,’ that is to say, a primitive man to whom the taboos and fetishes of modern society seem ridiculous: “We need their paper boxes, their buttons, their synthetic furs, their rubber goods, their hosiery, their plastic this and that. We need the banker, his genius for taking our money and making himself rich. The insurance man, his policies, and his talk of security, of dividends – we need him too. Do we? I don’t see that we need any of these vultures.
Oh, and how long and wide is this country? 2,700 miles (4,300 km) apart at its longest and 217 miles (349 km) at its widest and 9.6 miles (15.5 km) at its narrowest.