Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2010


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Restless Lives

Restless Lives
Photo by Alex Hybel.

Alex Roberto Hybel, a native of Argentina, the Susan Eckert Lynch '62 Professor of Government at Connecticut College, decided to take the measure of all of Latin America last summer, one mile at a time. The experience will be part of a future memoir.

On June 2, 2010, I flew to Buenos Aires to begin a 90-day ground trip from the southern tip of Patagonia to my home in Connecticut. My daughter Gabriela accompanied me for part of the journey.

During the trip, I traversed the length of Argentina, from El Calafate to its most northern town, where I crossed into Bolivia. After spending a few days with my cousin in Santa Cruz, Gabriela, my wife Jan, who had decided to join us for a portion of the trip, and I traveled to La Paz. From La Paz we went to Copacabana by the shores of Lake Titicaca, and then to Cusco and the marvelous Machu Picchu ruins in Peru. Lima and Trujillo, in northern Peru followed. Then it was to Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Quito in Ecuador, where Jan and Gabriela, because of prior commitments, flew back to the USA.

From Quito I went to the jungle in Ecuador''s border with Peru and Colombia. My five-day saunter through the forest was followed by a bus ride to Bogota and then to Cartagena. Unable to find a bus to carry me to Panama, I hired the captain of a sailboat who took me to the pristine San Blas Islands on the shores of Panama. A ride to Panama City with an amazing visit to the Panama Canal followed.

I continued to move north through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, with stops at each country''s capital. As a student of the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution, I especially treasured visiting Managua''s historical sites and talking at great length with a former Sandinista revolutionary. Next I was off to Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Puerto Vallarta, where I stayed for a few days to recoup. Then came the 45-hour bus ride from Puerto Vallarta, to Tijuana, and then to Los Angeles.

After a brief visit with my wife and daughters in Los Angeles, I boarded a train to San Antonio, transferred to a second one to Chicago, and finally a third one to New York City. I arrived back home September 3.

Notes on a forthcoming memoir

In his memoir Restless Lives, to be published in 2012, Professor Alex Roberto Hybel draws on his three-month land journey from El Calafate in southern Argentina to his home in Stonington, Conn., to reflect on the restless lives of his grandparents, his parents and his own.

The memoir transports the reader on a voyage from Germany in 1917, to some of the most desolate places in Chile and Bolivia during periods of incredible political and economic turmoil. It documents Professor Hybel''s birth and life in Argentina as the nation endured multiple military coups. Other experiences include his migration to the United States, hitchhiking, penniless, in his new country, his service in the U.S. military in Vietnam as a combat photographer, his undergraduate and graduate student years and his early days as a professor.

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