There’s nothing but me and Gemma. It feels like we’re the only people left in the world. And it scares me, because she’s all I have to hold onto. I can’t be sure she won’t let go.
There’s no official camping at the lighthouse, so Gemma takes the bus off-roading, much like we did yesterday, and we come to a stop in a small valley in the middle of a field of cows. They all swivel their heads to stare at us with dark, inquisitive eyes. There’s a small house up on the hill but we can barely see it. Horses graze on the hill’s terraced grooves.
Beyond the hills, there’s nothing but ocean. I breathe in deep, feeling strangely nervous and shaky. I don’t think it’s just about being on the edge of nothing, though.
I think it’s that I’m on the edge of something.
We go to bed early, our alarms set for the early morning hour, pre-dawn. Even though the ocean looks to be about a ten-minute walk, I pack a bag with my camera, my phone, my sketchbook and the pastels.
I can’t get enough of her. Our love-making is slow and lazy but necessary. Being inside her feels like being home, it feels like being in love, it feels like everything sweet and beautiful and nice in the world. Every time I come in her I hope I’m making a home for myself, a place where I belong.
The alarm on my phone goes off way too early. In my sleepy stupor I nearly turn it off but Gemma is patting my arm, then punching my arm, telling me to get up. The world around us vibrates with the sound of mooing cows and I wonder how the hell I slept through them.
Even though the days are hot, the mornings by the ocean are cold, and I can barely get on my jeans and hoodie in time. Armed with the pack and flashlights, we jump out of the van. The air snaps at us as if we’re wind-blown flags.
Hundreds of cattle spread out in all directions, bound by the green hills to the south and the lighthouse to the north. I look east, to where the hills part and the sky is a paler shade of dawn. It seems to be growing lighter by the second, and our chances of catching the sunrise are dwindling.
We take off toward the light, cautiously creeping under barbed wire fences and avoiding the epic cow pies dotting the land. The cows, for the most part, seem to be ignoring us, but their piles of shit are like hidden landmines in the dim light. A meandering, narrow stream cuts across us and we have to head up into the terraced hills where wary horses eye us. I get the feeling that we’ve chosen the most difficult route to see the sunrise, and from our vantage point I can’t even see the lighthouse anymore.
Just as the sky seems to grow frighteningly light, we reach the crest of the hill and I nearly collapse, out of breath from the quick, steep hike. A lone filly bolts at the sight of us.
Below us lies an empty beach, laid out like a sheet of velvet. Aside from the occasional hoof print and driftwood, it looks totally undisturbed, like it has been waiting for us all this time. The South Pacific is spread out at the horizon’s feet, a royal blue tinged with saffron edges. The sun is not up yet. We still have time.
We run down the hill and I nearly eat shit, several times, my shoes slipping on the dew-slicked grass, until sand sinks beneath my feet. I grab Gemma’s hand and we run over to the water’s edge just as the sun peeks its glowing crown over the wavering line.
I look at her and smile. We made it. We’re standing on the easternmost point in the easternmost habitable country. We might even be the first people on this whole fucking earth to see this fiery sunrise. Only thousands of miles of rolling water lies between us and the southwest coast of Chile.