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It has been far too long since I’ve been up to Glaciar El Morado, a longish walk from a wide spot in the road up in Cajón de Maipo. It’s not fair of me to give directions, since I don’t drive and have never navigated there myself, but I’ve been there twice, once at the beginning of summer with a friend of mine, through very slushy snow, at which point I think I burned my retinas from somewhat inadequate sunglasses, and another time with a walking group in late summer before the snow, which is when I took this picture.

This is where the hanging glacier tumbles down into a permanent, icy lagoon. The ice is sooty and streaked with grime, and the water is milk chocolate brown. But here, black, white, and shades of grey.

After seven years, it’s still incredible to me all the amazing hikes and walks and bike rides you can take from this fair city, and while I was sorting through some (digital) photos this morning for another project, I was reminded once again. And the reminder couldn’t come soon enough, because the air quality has been horrible the last couple of days, including on a medium-long bike ride up to Parque Intercomunal (an urban park in La Reina/Las Condes) on Saturday and a hike up in Parque Mahuida (in the pre-cordillera) on Sunday.

And while the terrible air quality is a pressing concern for everyone who lives here, it is, perhaps slightly less of a concern for the coming weeks when I will be fairly far from glaciers and Chile, and fairly close to family and US-based friends up in the northern hemisphere. I have an itinerary of three nesting round trip tickets, and plan on many nights on couches and cushions and in what would have been my childhood bedroom if I’d grown up in the house in which my mother currently lives.

I never do a slideshow for anyone because it feels like bragging. Look at how beautiful my adopted country is. Look at how I’ve knitted my life together into all this sunlight, these shadows, this awesome weekend up in the mountains or out to the coast. Sometimes I try to make Chile seem as small as possible when I’m talking to people in the United States. Which is strange, because despite its relatively small size (area, but not length-wise), it looms large in my brain, in my viewfinder and on my hard drive.

Thanks for all the mad bagel 1, bagel 2 and protest traffic of late. You’ve got my statcounter doing backflips. Hope you like glaciers.