Monday, May 23, 2011

On the Sands of Time, Part Two

It was a collection of crosses battered by the merciless beating of the desert sun, many broken by time and all weathered by the wind that now rocked us on our heels as it swept unfettered across the vast plains of the Atacama desert. Only one cross still bore a date - 1932 - while at the foot of another a rusted red child's bike rested gently, unwavering despite the great gusts that lashed against it. The arms of that cross held coins of recent date, evidence of well-meaning yet misguided superstition - a superstition which was also demonstrated by the pile of water bottles amassed around yet another ancient grave.

As we stepped gently and somewhat reverently through this final resting place, we were aware as always of the infinite silence of this limitless land. It was much to our surprise then, when the silence was shattered by sharp sound of a car horn. The vehicle quickly passed, by not before a pleasant wave was offered from the window in our general direction. Later we would meet the friendly face behind that brief greeting and would learn it was not meant for us, but for those who lay under our feet. "I always say hello to them when I pass by," she would explain from her comfortable position under a big beaded rosary on the wall, complete with a bronzed statue of Jesus hanging from the cross.

This brief stop on a lonely but beautiful stretch of desert highway was our first premonition of what Pisagua might hold as we drew closer to its borders ... the mysteries and memories waiting to be unlocked there.

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