Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Not an Eclipse Chaser: Stories from A to Z

By Tuesday, mother and son had their solid routines. I wrote in the mornings, then got ready for the day and went to find enough Wi-Fi to work for a couple hours. Forrest connected with the couch-surfing community, occasionally having meetups for lunch. Dinner, we ate together in our apartment, one or the other cooking depending on which one of us got it going first. 

When I finished work, I walked to warm up. Winter in Chile was cold unless I was outside in the bright sunshine. Even then, I wore a sweater or sweatshirt or sometimes both. 

Our building was five minutes from the beach. Since it was winter and not tourist season, there weren’t many people around. I took solitary grief walks near the water and talked out loud to Bruce. No one could hear me over the pounding surf.

I poured out my aching heart to Bruce and to God. It didn’t seem real that my husband had passed on to the other side and left me behind. How would I ever get used to his absence? Those long afternoons with nothing to do except walk and talk and seek healing for my broken heart were exactly what I needed. 

When I got tired, I’d sit on a bench next to the boardwalk and look out over the ocean. I finally realized what a magnificent setting this would be to watch the sunset each evening. But I never stayed for it. I’d get restless or hungry and return to the apartment to start dinner. Besides, sitting alone to experience a sunset made me feel lonelier than ever, so I didn’t do it. 

Forrest and I normally had one meal a day together, depending on if we both happened to be home and ready to eat at the same time. Sometimes he would cook, sometimes I would. We never planned anything, it just worked out the way it worked out. 

Tuesday marked the first week anniversary of my leaving Utah; it seemed like weeks had gone by. It was the same for Forrest. After dinner, he said, “I’m about done with Coquimbo. It feels like we’ve been here forever. I’m ready to go.” 

“Well, tomorrow is the eclipse and why we came to Coquimbo in the first place. We have to stay for that.” 

“I didn’t come to Chile just for the eclipse like so many did. I wanted to go to South America and figured since I’m coming anyway, I might as well plan for the eclipse.”

I couldn’t believe he would consider leaving before the eclipse! “I think you’ll be glad you did, Forrest. A total eclipse is incredible.” 

“Meh. I’m ready to go.”

 “We can go after the eclipse and check out a day early.” 

“This place is full of eclipse chasers right now. I’ve met a few of them. Did you know there are eclipse celebrities? People who have seen so many they're famous in the eclipse chasing world." 

"This will make two for me,” I said. “I never figured I’d see totality once in my lifetime, let alone twice. And there’s one in Mexico in 2024, when I very well could be there. If I am, that will make three for me.” 

“You don’t have anything to tie you down and you want to travel. You could easily become an eclipse celebrity, Mom, if you wanted.” 

That was the last thing I wanted. 

“There’s even a few American celebrities in the area.” 

“Really? Like who? Tom Cruise?” I loved Tom Cruise. I would keep my eyes out for him. 

Forrest laughed. “I didn’t hear his name, but Robert Downey, Jr. and Bill Gates are a few I heard about.” 

“If I saw either of them, I doubt I’d recognize them.” Besides, they probably weren’t strolling along the Coquimbo beach or going to the shopping center ATM like what I was doing. 

“I’m just sick of the hype and ready to leave.” Forrest hated following the crowd. He had not gone to the 2017 total eclipse, practically in our own backyard, because “there’s too much hype about it. Too many people are going.”

“As close as we are, to leave now and miss it would be silly. You’re the opposite of an eclipse chaser, Forrest. You’re an eclipse avoider.”

"Yep. And I'm ready to go."


  1. Hi Karen. Loving your posts. Keep them coming : )

  2. I really, really hope you didn't leave. My father saw it and it was beyond amazing he said.

  3. I'm an eclipse attender. I didn't go out of my way, but New York City had a good amount of eclipse. That said, friends upstate were in the path of totality and didn't think to visit. Mistake! Thanks for stopping by Buttercupland. Please stop by again.

  4. "... Sometimes he would cook, sometimes I would." As the cookbook author that you are (I have yours) and a former owner of a cookie baking business, I'm surprised you let Forrest cook. He must be pretty good, also.
    The eclipse: DS is a chaser, having just returned from Vermont for the April 8, 2024 one. He travelled to SC for the 2017 one also. I would have gone out to glimpse a total eclipse, travelling maybe thirty minutes max... What are we missing?

  5. I'm beginning to think we share a son! And eclipse celebrities? Guess there are influencers for everything now!

  6. I've seen four total eclipses (if I count the April 8 one, which was totally clouded out) and if my first one hadn't been so amazing, maybe I wouldn't have tried to see the others. My first one was in March of 1970, when I was in high school, and there was next to no hype for that one. I have to believe the over buildup of 2017, and even the worse one of 2024, turned off too many people and I can understand that. I wish they would stop with the hype. I hope Forrest doesn't regret passing on this one when he grows older. I don't consider myself a chaser, but I do hope I can see at least one more that isn't blocked by clouds.


Comments are welcome!