Patagonia Independiente

I arrived at Punta Arenas airport around half nine in the evening. Only two people got off the bus. I entered the airport and looked at the departure screen. My flight was on time, so I had a few hours to kill and was going to get my writing up to date. The plan went immediately down the drain as soon as the lady that left the bus with me asked me what flight I was taking. She was taking the same flight.

The conversation I had with Cecília was an unexpected surprise. On her way to her sixties, she was born in Punta Arenas but lived in Puerto Natales. She was a true Patagonian, on her way to Santiago to visit her daughter and grandson. It felt like she was going to another country.

We talked about life in general and I got the idea her life hadn’t been easy. Among other things, she hadn’t talked to her sister in many years. They didn’t get along and I could sense it was something that was hurting here inside. I told her I couldn’t imagine my life without my brother and sister. It hasn’t always been easy, but we get along well. I love them so much, even if I never get to say it or show them enough, but I think they know. I told her something like “maybe she has changed”, but didn’t force it too much. Some people never change.

Cecília takes this little book out of her handbag and asks me if I had ever seen such a tiny book. She then gives me the book as a gift. I was completely caught by surprise and told her I couldn’t accept it, but she insisted. I took my pen out of my backpack and asked her to write something. She accepted the challenge and wrote the following words:

“Con carino para Paulo para que lo lees en tu camino de aventura. Cecília”

On the second page she wrote:

“Patagonia independiente”

I couldn’t believe how sweet and cool that was, she left me lost for words. The only thing that came to mind was to invite her for a coffee. She accepted a water. We talked until check-in time, where she was offered an earlier flight. I was happy she would see her grandson sooner. We said goodbye with a big hug and she left me with a “mucha suerte”…

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