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Leaving Puerto Williams, Navarino Island, Chile

December 3, 2022
Expedition cruise ship Silver Wind at dock at Puerto Williams, Navarino Island, Chile

I am just in from an amazing voyage – sailing all the way from Vancouver, Canada, down the Pacific Coast all the way to Puerto Williams, Navarino Island, Chile. I have been working for the expedition cruise company Silversea on the beautiful vessel Silver Wind.

Puerto Williams holds such a special place in my heart. Right from my first visit here in 2004, I felt at home. As a very remote island community of only a few thousand people, it reminded me so much of Tofino, Vancouver Island, where I was living at the time (and I still live near Tofino, now in Port Alberni). I came to know the Yagán community here, and worked with author Cristina Zárraga to translate the stories of her Yagán grandmothers to English (that book is called Hai kur mamashu chis, and yes it is still in print and available on Amazon).

My voyage on Silver Wind ended here in Puerto Williams, and I was pleased that I was able to arrange for at least one overnight here before travelling to my next work contract. I rented a bike, and spent my day peacefully riding around and hiking, reconnecting.

This place means so much to me… my short stay – the first since before COVID – was especially emotional, as we lost our grandmother the abuela Cristina Calderón earlier this year. The abuela was the last pure-blooded Yagán person and also the last remaining native speaker of the Yagán language – a loss so personally heartfelt to all of us who knew her, and a loss to all of humanity as well.

This place is not the same without her. Nor is our world…

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