A Last Hurrah with Emily

Gabriel Goldstein
May 18, 2020 · 21 min read


It is late in afternoon on our first full day in Iquique, and I am sitting on a patio outside a Chilean version of a menú place. I have just had a very decent lunch for the apparently reasonable price of forty nine hundred pesos. Most non-fast food restaurants here want seven thousand for a decent lunch, where one can sit and feel like a dignified person for a little while, after days spent on dusty roadsides and nights sleeping in sandy places. How quickly standards change — I would only have considered paying this in Arequipa for a special occasion, and this is just a lunch, but something felt special enough about it to make seven dollars seem reasonable. I had a fried cut of albacore tuna, an empanada and a salad, washed down with a limonada.


Our plan for the night is to go out and play some music on the streets of Iquique. I say “our plan” but it hasn’t been fully agreed upon. Emily and I have been talking about it for a couple days, but when I’d brought it up earlier she’d been noncommittal and said she’d see how she was feeling. Julian insisted that the thing to do was to go to a bar, ask the bartender or barker if we could play, do three songs and then pass around a hat; that playing on the street would be much worse. But Emily absolutely did not want to do that.


Over our beers, Emily said she’d decided she was ready to keep moving. We agreed that we could easily do another day and night in Iquique, but we both have a long way to go. Maybe it didn’t help when I told her earlier that the map on the wall at the hostel made it look like we were closer to Lima than Santiago. She’s going a lot further than Santiago. I had been considering just staying in Iquique and resting another day, but sometime when we were playing, I realized we’d be leaving this city together. For the moment at least, we are a team, and as long as we’re going the same direction, I should accompany her on the road.

The Great Southern Migration

in which the author journeys over land from Virginia to Uruguay

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