Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chaiten Tour Guide!

I'm so excited! I just found a tour guide who will take me and my traveling companion to within 2 km of the lava dome of Chaiten Volcano! Nicolas La Penna, of Chaitur Excursiones, took this recent photo of the volcano, which I found on The Volcanism Blog.

I clicked on the photo credit, found Nicolas's tour company based in Chaiten, and sent him an email. I didn't know if he'd receive it or not, because according to my web research, the town of Chaiten had been evacuated.

Not entirely so, says Nicolas, who answered my email this morning. While the authorities are urging complete evacuation, there is still lodging in and around Chaiten, and four stores remain open. Not only did Nicolas send me the ferry schedule, he offered to meet me at the dock, arrange lodging in town, and drive me to the volcano.

Nicolas writes:

At the moment, I am field guiding a geologist and Botanist who are investigating the start of the regeneration of life in the areas of the blast zone.

It gives one hope to see how nature enacts this rebirth or Renaissance of an area devastated by pyroclastic flows.

What a great resource Nicolas is going to be - I feel so lucky to have found him!  And what a wealth of book material this trip is going to generate. Maybe I'll end up writing TWO novels!


ann marie

This is going to be one adventureous trip. I can't wait to see what pictures you bring back.

Karen Dionne

Thanks, Ann Marie! I just found out it's going to be an even bigger adventure, since Chaiten currently has no city services, like electricity and running water. But what the hey - I've gone camping under similar conditions before!

Can't wait!

Middle Aged Woman

Karen, do you travel with specific research questions in mind? Or do you start out just absorbing the (ash-filled?) atmosphere?

Karen Dionne

Great question, Middle Aged Woman. I actually do some of both.

Right now, I have just a very rough idea of the story events and how the whole book will play out. So on the flight down, I'm hoping to write a ten page or so outline spelling out everything that happens in the story in more detail.

That way, having immersed myself fully in the story, as I'm making the trip, I can keep an eye out for places and people and experiences that can work their way into the novel. And since I'm bringing back two characters from my first novel who I already 'know' quite well, I'll do a little bit of method acting while I'm in Chile, and pretend I'm experiencing the trip through their eyes.

I'm also anticipating tapping my Chaiten guide's experiences - Boiling Point opens with the volcano's erupting, and Nicolas was there when it first happened, so being able to interview him in person is a real gift.

Outside of that, there will be so many unanticipated things I'll see and hear and smell and experience that will bring a richness of detail to the story that no amount of Internet research could ever uncover, I know I'll shoot tons of video and pictures and take pages and pages of notes to try to capture it all.

This is also one of the reasons I'm taking my son along - not only is it more fun to experience something exciting with a companion, when I get home and it's time to buckle down and write the novel, he can help me remember everything!

(I'm a Middle Aged Woman too) :)

Middle Aged Woman

(I'm a Middle Aged Woman too) :)
Actually, I knew that! I got pointed to your blog by Nancy (LeRoy) Burk! I'm excited to experience your trip with you. Michael Palin has a great travelogue (lots actually), but in the one called Full Circle, he travels the Pacific rim, including a long trip through Chile, lengthwise. I highly recommend it to refresh your memory when you get back.

Karen Dionne

How cool is this? I'll be sure to check out Michael Palin's travelogue - thanks for the tip! As you may have noticed, I LOVE research. :)

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