We could be anywhere right now, we said all day as we made our way slowly up Reloncavi Sound. On on all sides the mountains crowd around, visible only for short, bright moments when the clouds part. High up and barely visible are sheer faces with clinging snow. Rain is unmistakable in its approach; to the north gauzy curtains of grey fall down layers of dense green slopes until the first few drops give way to a steady patter.
What we mean to say is this: instead of being here we could almost be home.
We nose our way slowly through a small passage at the end of the day. On the bow I am here but I am also far to the north and some years ago. In the glassy depths ahead I search for anything pale – the look of a looming rock was an early lesson (and loud).
These hiding rocks and towering slopes are not even connected, not related in any way to the ones we know so well. But the heft of them on every side is familiar and sure and it is the way our eyes scan as easily, they way the greys blend as smoothly as they ever did back then that makes us see that place in this.
Still half asleep I slide feet into boots, put on my jacket, grab my headlamp and climb the ladder out into the night. The sky is clear and the wind from the south is cold. I pull my hood closer around my face and think about the icy places from which this wind has travelled.
It has been four months since we were at sea and yet tonight in the cockpit it’s as if none of it ever happened – the cold days on the road, nights camped in the desert, sunny naps on ancient ruins. Months erased in the way my shoulder finds the same spot under the dodger, the way I stand here wedged and swaying and look out at silver waves.
There are moments like this that fit like old sweaters but this is not one of them.
We just did this, I think, I was just here.
The open sea is quite a place to spend some time, but I feel no desire to go there again right now.
But tonight it’s okay and so sheltered from the wind I allow the months to recede. As the boat sails on, my mind follows the same worn pathways, trips over the same small troubles.
To think we are ever tomorrow born new is a folly. In the quiet moments at night we must marvel instead at this: for all the thousands of miles we travel we here find ourselves somehow the same.