Even if, this story seems to be too much romantic to be real, this is my true story, and I really have the secret hope to remember his face…
Hey, M. "I don't know your name"
Where are you, now?
I still remember you.
So do you?
We met three years ago. Or… should I say, I met you three years ago. January 2003. I have no doubt that you have already forgotten me… Three years ago is a long time. And why should you remember me? I should have forgotten you too. Whatever…
I write this because, somewhere deep in my dreams, I've always thought that our roads would crossover again, somewhere on the top of a mountain, or sliding on eternal snows of any long-way-home summit. Whatever…
I write this because yesterday (it was the 12th of February, 2006, or the 13th maybe: it was two o'clock in the morning… the night!)… Yesterday, like every evening since three years, I tried to bring back inside my mind the picture of your face: your smile, your eyes, even your nose, your jaw, special jaw, the sound of your voice… before getting asleep, like a child, calling for her superhero, for him to keep away any nightmare. So, yesterday, I called you again, and this time, what a horrible vision! I couldn't see your face again. I tried, and I tried, and I tried, again and again. I couldn't see your eyes anymore, I couldn't even remember their colour, I couldn't see your lips, my favourites… I was making my best to put all my strength to concentrate myself on you, your face, your smile… I couldn't get a detail! There was just an idea left, something like a shadow, a light fuzzy warmness… No more you. I'm beginning to forget you… Maybe I should have done it before, but I can't resolve me to this tragedy. I'm forgetting you despite my desperate willing, because of this useless old brain close to thirty years old I'm trying to deal with.
So, I've choose now another strategy, a radical strategy. Write everything I can remember about you, now. I mean, everything linked to you… because, I thought I couldn't forget you, so I did no picture, no drawing, I didn't write any poem, any short sentence about you, even in my road book. I kept you only in my mind, selfishly. I didn't want to share this remembrance with anyone. And actually, quite nobody knows about you, around me. Crazy, isn't it?
I'm going to give you any information about where, when, how, with who… we met; any information about you, for you, maybe, to recognize you, reading this. Don't be frightened: I don't want to meet you again (you could think I'm nuts, crazy about you, and couldn't fight my physical attraction to you, staying on a frustration, that I could try to escape by killing you!). I just want a picture of you. Or less: I just want you to remember me your face. Do you understand that? So, don't worry! Keep cool, sit down safely if not done yet, and read this, carefully.
I met you by the end of January 2003, in southern Chile, Punta Arenas. We both stayed in Blue House, a messy but kind hostel, in this frozen and windy small city, not that far from the end of the world, in Chilean Patagonia.
I spent quite ten days there, getting a rest, tired because of a cold I got when sliding on eternal snow of the glacier El Martial, in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, where I came from, after three first delirious months travelling around whole Brazil and Argentina, threw every provincial. I wrote many things in my road book about everyone I met in Blue House, except you.
You were last time I felt my heart throbbing. Three years ago.
I wrote about Ryan and Amber. Ryan Thibault (because of his French grand-father… if I remember well) is from Vermont, USA. He told us he was painting houses to get money, but was still studying, and trying to be a photographer. He had many stories to tell us about hippies and farmers in Vermont, and guys making drug business threw Canadian border, driving huge trucks. He told us about the beginning oh their travel on a crusade in the Caribbean and how he was emotionally choked by misery in Haiti, and young beggars there.
I wrote about those two Canadians, Mica and Jorg, from Toronto. Mica is an engineer; Jorg, a filmmaker. They had just been graduated from their respective superior schools. Jorg have a double nationality: Canadian and German (If I remember well, he was born there).
I wrote about Juan Pablo too, a young Chilean. I was studying tourism to become a guide. He gave me very precious informations about Bolivia, and I gave him the pages of my guide book about Amazonian River: his dream was to travel on the whole river, from the source to the delta.
I wrote about Olivier, a French student making an exchange in a university of Santiago, to end his thesis in computer science. He was speaking very good English and Spanish but with a so French accent! (Maybe not worst than mine) He spent fifteen days in Puerto Williams, the real end the world (not Ushuaia), where there is no touristy attraction, nothing to see, or visit, just big boats, passing threw Cap Horn; not even a family, only men working there in the port. When Olivier was getting into a conversation, everything was turning into a political question. He had a very progressive vision.
I wrote about many other people… I remember about many other ones. I spent so many hours in the TV room, because of my cold, watching CNN with the Israeli's travellers. It was the period when Iraq was threatening to attack Israel. I watched football games from UK tournament; I discovered that there were only French players in Arsenal FC…
I wrote about Johanna, from UK. She arrived two days before I left. We kept in touch by email, and she became a kind of world adventure guide for rich tourist looking for emotions. Maybe you know her; blond dynamic woman. She wrote some short stories about her adventures at the very beginning, spending them by mail. I loved it.
And there were you, from Bristol, UK, travelling in Patagonia to climb up several summits. After Punta Arenas (where there's no close mountain), you where going to Puerto Natales to make the "W" trek in Torres del Paine National Park. You were planning to climb up the Aconcagua in February or March, 2003, after joining friends in Santiago.
If I can remember well, you told me your father is Scottish.
I gave you the address of a very nice and cheap place to stay in Mendoza (check point before going to the Andes and the Aconcagua): Mendoza Hostel, managed by an ex-high mountain guide, Pedro. I told you about the only small and easy summit you could climb up on my native island of the French Caribbean, La Soufrière, 1484 meters (4869 feet), in Guadeloupe; small summit, but nice walk in tropical vegetation. I left you my email address.
I can remember you putting the paper on wich I wrote everything (Mendoza Hostel address, La Soufrière summit, maybe with a small map drown by myself of Guadeloupe Archipelago in the Caribbean, and the main islands looking like a butterfly, and my email address), in your guide book.
And you never wrote me. It didn't matter as long as I had the picture of your smile engraved in my mind, keeping me warm before flying to you in my dreams, every night. But now… what am I going to do, without you?
Once, you made fun of me. I had cooked something and my fingers had the special smell of an ingredient I'd used. I came to you to make you smell it (as I could do with anyone I know) and I told you, bringing my hand closer to your face:
- "Smell my fingers…"
And everyone started laughing, and laughing at me. What did I say? I realised that I was the only French between all those Anglo-Saxons (Americans, Canadians, British) and I understood that they might be some kind of private joke I couldn't get, a typical English speaking people thing, maybe a subtleness of your strange language…
One afternoon I made you taste "Mate" drink. I was used to drink some everyday since I had spent two months in Northern Argentina. After absorbing few gulps of this warm and strong herby typical exotic drink (even if Chile is not that far from Argentina), we went to the collective kitchen to prepare coffee (even if it was tea time), and there, I saw your hands shaking. Was it the effect of this special potion on you? What happened then is confuse in my mind…
I remember our discussions about our ideal way of life: nomad or sedentary, alone, in couple or in a community, if everyone belongs to a place, and if everyone necessary depends on his own people… how to feel free in social habits… how to stand superficial social contacts during an itinerant way of life. You told me that I might find "my home" somewhere with someone: nice advice, or nice wish.
I didn't find my home yet. Three years later.
By the end of January 2003, I left. We (the two Canadians, the couple of Americans and I) went to Puerto Natales. I went back to Argentina then, to visit Argentinean Patagonia, and I left them all in Chile. I never had any news from any of them; only from Johanna. You left Blue House maybe the following day, or the next one… I don't know. Since that, I only had a picture of you in my mind, a good remembrance of Chile. I spent only ten days in Chile; half was with you (and the others…).
Fortunately there were you; and your strange accent. I couldn't understand a word of what you were saying, at the very beginning…
Do you remember me? It was three years ago… and your picture has gone; erosion of time.
Thank you for remembering me your face.