Twenty days in Chile that shook the (mental) world that I inhabit. Twenty days that were like twenty sessions of humanity falling with a thud. Twenty days that would make anyone weep or roll on the floor laughing. But let’s start from the beginning. I left Chile in January 1974. The last time I flew anywhere was in 1977. I thought I’d never go back to Chile again. I thought I’d never get on a plane again. One day a girl called me from Paula Magazine and asked if I wanted to be on the jury for a story contest that the magazine organizes. Right away I said yes. I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I was thinking about the glorious sunsets of Los Angeles, though not the Los Ángeles of Bío-Bío, in Chile, but the Los Angeles of California, the sunsets of the city that sprang up from nothing and from whose rooftops you can see see the radiance that oozes from every inch of the planet. I might have been thinking about that. I might have been making love. Yes, now I remember, that was it. Then the phone rang and I got out of bed and answered and a female voice asked if I’d like to come to Chile and then the city of Los Angeles full of skyscrapers and palm trees became the city of Los Ángeles full of one-story buildings and dirt roads. Los Ángeles, the capital of the province of Bío-Bío, the city where Fernando Fernández played foosball in yards that were like something dreamed up by deranged adolescents, the city where Lebert and Cárcamo were constant companions and where tolerant Cárdenas was class president at a boys’ school designed by some petty demon and where El Pescado suddenly went underground. City of evening raids. Savage city whose sunsets were like the aphasic commentary of privilege. So I said yes in the same tone that I might have said no. The room was dark; I was expecting a phone call, but not this one; the voice that spoke to me from the other side of the world was sweet. At that moment I could have said no. But I said yes because like a mountain cat, the capital of the province of Bío-Bío suddenly leaped onto the map of the city of happiness and was clawing at it, and in those (invisible) claw marks it was written that I had to return to Chile and I had to get back on a plane.
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