Almost four months ago I landed in Calama from Valparaiso, Chile just in time to see the sun disappear over the far horizon.
In the remaining light with no map but knowing direction, I gathered my jeep, which would double as my house for the next eight days, and followed the newly posted, zip-tied to light posts, plastic signs towards Chile’s superfood store, Jumbo. Navigating as quickly as possible the densely packed aisles on that Friday night I grabbed water, peanut butter, bread, solidified apple jelly, juice boxes, snacks and a blanket to cover me in the back. On whim and knowing my seven hour drive probably wouldn’t have consistent streaming radio, I snatched two CD’s from the grab-bin as I checked out. One was BG classics and the other a Latin American music sampler. While I couldn’t even listen through a single BG song, the Latin American sampler was a golden egg. Never would I have thought possible to find gold in Jumbo. This golden music and the pitch blackness of the Atacama desert would keep me company through the 363 km drive. In the high altitude landscape and moon-slivered star-souped sky, I saw flashes of powerful mining plants, small town centers, trucker diners, and sleepless dogs caught in the cone of sodium lights. This is how I would travel the Pan American highway North and South, in the blackest of blacks. And anything that made a presences did so with sharp contrast against a stark surrounding and with lyrical Latin American singing in the background. I couldn’t remember the last place I spent that much space+time with blackness and it was beautiful. Moving from dense energetic sensory stuffed Valparaiso community to the indiscernible vast stretches of the Atacama in solitude was poetic. But as quickly as the songs arrived, they would leave as as I failed to collect the CD on one of my hopscotches around Europe the remaining three weeks before returning to Lubbock. These last three months I have thought of that sound-space often but with no time and Jumbo’s website leaving me no leads it was fading memory. So today, in total reunion style and only after considering I had left the CD with friends, did I received an email with the missed sound list and their authors: Quilapayun, Congreso, Sol y Lluvia, Patricio Manns, Angel Parra, Quilapayun, Osvaldo Rodriguez, Carmen Prieto, Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Leon Gieco, Inti-Illimani, Mercedes Sosa, and Los Jaivas.
That space isn’t so far away anymore.