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Wednesday
Dec292010

Ugly Postcards from the End of the World

I accidentally bought an ugly postcard. I picked up a number of them, all quite attractive, and it must have slipped in. Now, while I contemplate who to send it to, I am also deciding who's to blame—the photographer or the individual who OK'd the crap image to be sold in the first place. I half suspect the proprietor swapped it out with one of the nice ones just to deplete his stock. But it doesn't make sense. The people here are so friendly.

Postcards should delight. Amidst bills and marketing materials, this simple correspondence pops. You don't even have to open it. Just turn it over. Oh, a note from so-and-so. "The weather is here. Wish you were beautiful." How nice. Flip it over again and gaze at the elegant image. Oh, look where he is. How thoughtful.

That's how it should go. But now I risk affronting the person I send this postcard to. I'm in an exotic location, far, far away. I'm 500 miles from Antarctica for crying out loud. This is a land of freakish geology. Mountains rise from the sea like sunken muffins. Others look like layer cakes. Others, still, make no sense—tilting, twisting, crumbling—rejects from the kitchen of the Earth. This postcard would be more fitting if it advertised a highway rest-stop with a scenic overlook.

Sadly I must send it to someone. I stamped the damn thing before I looked at it, assuming it would be all right. I've even written the note:

"Dear _______, I apologize for this tasteless postcard. Patagonia is a strange and wonderful land. Unlike with the overexposed photo you have here, the midsummer light transforms the landscape moment-by-moment, eliciting rich colors and textures. By the afternoon you won't recognize the scene you stepped through just that morning. Equal only to the light is the wind in shaping your view of this place—which does not, in fact, resemble some 1950s-era 'make-out' spot. Powerful gusts stand in place, ready to knock you down. They handily knock down the mountains, from which rock and snow regularly tumble. While the wind and weather and uncompromising landscape insist you are at the end of the world, the joy and hospitality of the people here make you feel as if you are wrapped in the soul of the continent. Again, sincere apologies for this postcard whose overwrought composition denigrates any sense of compelling visual narrative the scene could have achieved for Patagonian Chile. Hope all is well with you!"

I have very small handwriting. The question now is who...who do I send it to?

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