• Eyes on Fire - Blue Foundation
  • Rooster - Alice in Chains
  • Jigsaw Falling into Place - Radiohead
  • Quien Fuera - Silvio Rodriguez
  • La Tortura - Shakira

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Quotable Quotes

Here's two observations I made yesterday.

"The worst thing about skiing is when you are not skiing."
If you went skiing, you know what I mean. You want to be on the slopes all the time in order to stay warm. When you are waiting in the lift lines, you are acutely aware of those unwieldy boots. When you are on the lift, the first couple of minutes feel good. You can use the rest. After that, your body starts to feel the cold, particularly when it is windy.

"Smog is beautiful too, as long as I'm above it."
Sometime back, I was complaining that the smog in Santiago really sucks. You can barely see the Andes because of the all haze. However, when you go up into the mountains, its a different story. The thick layer of smog reveals only the peaks of the hills and mountains and completely obscures the city from view. You feel like you are in this ethereal otherwordly tier right out of the LotR .

I have to admit, yesterday's sunset was among the most breathtaking I've ever seen. The smog, the snow and a not-so-intense bright orange sun peeking thru the clouds made it a one-of-a-kind view. It was a bit cruel that I did not have my camera because the distinct warm (yellow) cast from the sun made every feature of the snow worth a million dollars. Every face I saw was begging to be photographed. The glint in the eye, the hair lights, the speckles on the cheeks, stubble from an emerging evening shadow, the tiny shadow cast by a nose stud .. Oh, I can go on and on .. and I felt so frustrated. It was light worth dying for - and I did not have my camera with me.

I thought the visual feast ended with the sunset. I was wrong. The road back to the city is a winding one with a zillion u-turns. All the vehicles from the three ski resorts (valle, colorado and La Parva) go bumper to bumper at about 15 miles an hour for close to half an hour. While this is boring in itself (and inconvenient if you are trying to get some sleep), you get glimpses of the snaking road as it makes it way several hundred feet below you. All you see are a procession of bright headlights, red rear lights and the dimly lit snow from the multi-colored ambient light. It was quite spectacular. Again, I missed my camera very much.

It was poignantly ironic that I had contrasting days in terms of two things I'm very passionate about, skiiing and photography. It was a day to remember. I wish I had a picture to show for it .. but for now Ye, the reader shall suffer my words.

Theres Whores on the road

I thought I heard Gonzalo wrong. "Really? Whores at 6:30pm at below freezing temperatures? They must be *very* motivated.". What came out was, "Did I just hear what I think you just said?". He repeated, slowing down, "There is a hOrse on the road". Right. In spanish, the O is always pronounced like the O in bOne. Hence, the confusion.

Gonzalo was my Chilean ski buddy yesterday - one of the most fulfilling days for me in terms of skiing. Since my last post, I did manage to get out of Santiago and each time, I went skiing. Twice to Valle Nevado and once to El Colorado. Both are nestled a few miles into the Andes and located just 30-40 km from the city proper.

I was destined to go yesterday. So I thought before I set out - and so I believe, now. I tweaked my back sleeping in a weird position flying into Santiago early in the week - and I still had some niggling soreness by the weekend. However, it snowed 3 feet midway into the week and the forecast for the weekend was sunny .. sunny .. sunny. I *had* to go. Come hell or highwater, I had to go - despite some strong protests from mi esposa.

So, I set out at 7:30am well in time to catch the early (not so early really, we leave at 6am in the States) buses leaving for Valle Nevado. While I was standing in line for the bus tickets, I realized I forgot my inhaler. I thought, "Maybe, this is a sign that I shouldn't go". Chileans smoke freely everywhere and skiing with a spasmed windpipe woudln't be all that fun. "No! God can't be this cruel". I took a taxi back to the hotel, picked up my inhaler and returned after 15 minutes. It was getting late, but hell, skiing a couple of hours less was a lot better than staying cooped up in the hotel.

I eventually took the bus to El Colorado as it was announced that there were delays going into Valle (short for V Nevado). The announcement was kindly translated for me by Senor. Gonzalo. We ended up sitting next to each other and we skied together as well.

We got on the slopes by about 12pm - very late by any standard. However, the powder was unbelievable. The snowfall the past week had turned the andean retreats into such beauties. We both skied non-stop till 5pm eating cereal bars for lunch while on the lift. My rhythm was improving with each run and I peaked somewhere around 3:30pm coming down without stopping at a fair speed with my torso facing downhill all the time. My back wasn't troubling me - adrenaline was masking any semblance of pain.

However, my total lack of exercise for the last 6 weeks was showing. I was tiring towards the end of the day. But my greed drove me on. I was already dreaming of coming back the next day (today) for another day on the slopes. On the last run, I lost control briefly and toppled over (not uncommon when you are pushing 30-40 m/h - happened earlier in the day) but this time it tweaked the problem spot with a precision strike. I literally limped back - if there is such a thing in skiing.

I wasn't complaining. I had a content smile on my way back - a face not contorted by pain from each turn as I made my way down the trail. I silently thanked the Lord. If it had to happen, it did so at the right time. It could've happened when I had bigger tumbles earlier in the day - and I would've been miserable sitting out the whole day because of pain. But it was a sign that read "Don't push it son. You had a great day today in spite of your back. Rest tomorrow."

Resting, I am. It's been my first day of rest in weeks - weekends in Atlanta are too hectic to call them weekends - and I'll gladly sit it out.