John and I were leaving the cemetery in Cienfuego, Cuba when the cemetery attendant told us that the 55-year-old trade embargo against the Cubans had just been buried by the Americans. The attendant rejoiced, as did many locals who dealt with tourists because tourists brought in the much-needed foreign currency. But many locals we came across that day were pensive, concerned that they’d lose some of the social privileges they had fought so hard for as a nation.
We booked with Kluane Air to fly us into Glacier Lake, the landing spot for those going into the Cirque of the Unclimbables, an international climbing destination located in the Nahanni National Park. Our rendezvous with the airline was at Finlayson Lake located on the Robert Campbell Highway, north of Watson Lake, Yukon. We expected to be flown into Glacier Lake within a few hours of our arrival at Finlayson Lake.
Fifteen years ago, a team of six people, me included, hiked from the abandoned mining town of Tungsten into the Cirque of the Unclimbables, which, at that time was not part of the Nahanni National Park. Today it is. The hike took us 14 days to reach Glacier Lake located below the Cirque.
I first saw Charles sitting on his backpack, snuggled between a bunch of Nepalese peasants in the back of an old, beat up, Indian-made truck. He looked out of place with his creamy white skin and in his sparkling white shirt, his leopard-skin silk scarf, his designer, button-down jeans and his brown felt fedora.