By the time I’d Greyhounded, hiked and chicken-bussed my way to Santiago, my backpack was down to about half-full. The few belongings I’d started the two-month journey with had since dwindled to a couple of T-shirts, a pair of jeans, some horribly ugly basketball shoes and a handful of books. Read the rest of this entry ?
Archive for the ‘Features’ Category
There is a place in far southern Chile, in the remote region of Aysén, where the long road south – the famed Carreterra Austral – simply comes to an end. Beyond lies a magical and uninhabited land dominated by the earthly elements, where rock, ice and wind combine in a breathtaking and intimidating mosaic of mountains, glaciers, lakes and fjords. Read the rest of this entry ?
ANCUD, Chile – It’s halfway through a late, Friday morning practice session in Ancud’s murky, municipal gymnasium and Kevin Sowell’s killing it. Fifteen footers. Three pointers. Everything’s dropping in. “Game,” shouts the lanky American, throwing his arms in the air after draining a 25-foot “buzzer” shot to win a quick, one-minute shooting drill.
The setting is reminiscent of something out of “Hoosiers”: a dank, empty, poorly-lit gym that could easily be home to a rural, 1950s high school team. The year, though, is 2007 and Sowell, a 26-year-old native of Hamilton, Ohio, isn’t anywhere close to Indiana.
Welcome to Ancud: a rainy, wind-swept fishing town of some 35,000 inhabitants located on the northern top of Chiloé. A large island off the coast of Southern Chile, Chiloé is about as backwater as it gets. The Chilean capital of Santiago is nearly 1,000 miles to the north. To the south lies the tangled wilderness of Patagonia, a sparsely habited land of rushing rivers, massive glaciers, sweeping forests and fjords. Read the rest of this entry ?
In the living room of Joe Orr’s north end Halifax home is a collection of photographs, portraits mostly. Some are old, some more recent. Several of the people pictured here have passed away. At 43, Orr’s lost far too many loved ones already. Others live outside of Halifax, or in different provinces, or halfway around the world.
There’s a picture of the Pope. Several of Orr’s two-year-old dog Apollo. In one photo Orr appears with his close friend Bill Stewart. The picture, published in a daily newspaper, shows Orr helping his friend from a wheelchair during a Remembrance Day ceremony. Stewart passed away last year at 92.
On another shelf is a picture of Lester. His big, brown eyes stare directly forward. His ears stick out a bit. He has short, dark hair and the strained, awkward grin of an 11-year-old posing for a school photograph.
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A guard led me into an empty shower area and ordered me to strip. “Drop your clothes in this bag,” he told me. “Then bend over and cough.” I hesitated for the moment it took me to realize he planned to inspect my anus for contraband. “Come on,” the man urged me. “I don’t enjoy this any more than you do.”
I did as told, then showered and slipped on a set of prison-issue sweats. Next, the guard marched me through a maze of corridors to a large, silent cellblock. In the dark we mounted a set of stairs and stopped before an open unit: number 11. “Go inside and close the door behind you,” the man instructed.
The heavy steel door resisted slightly before sliding easily to the right, engaging the lock with a definitive metallic clank. In the darkness I located a paper-thin mattress and lay down, hoping sleep would come sooner rather than later, while my mind raced to explain how in god’s name I’d managed, just a month after moving to Canada, to end up in the Burnside Correctional Facility.
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