Bon Voyage

Trip Start Sep 23, 2008
Trip End Aug 08, 2009

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

All those travelers of us that cross the Andes tried, each in his own way, to transmit the sensations they felt when faced with the overpowering, grandiose presence of this huge stone mass. They were also aware that no words could come close to defining that which seemed to exceed human dimensions.

The general idea was that "it was on too large a scale to be grasped by human imagination." Darwin, after his travels all over the world, said that Patagonia was still a vivid memory in his mind, and that he would never forget the overwhelming vision that dazzled him from the snow capped peaks of the Andes. It has been suggested that any man facing the Andean mountain range "becomes conscious of his own insignificance." Patagonia is not a precise region on the map. It is a vast vague territory that encompasses 900,000 square kilometres of Argentina and Chilean. New Zealand is 268,680 and the UK is 244,820. A place that definitely supports the notion that "distance and place are the functions of speed and time." Purely because here the distance is so massive that you get no place fast so you better have time. It can be so bleak at times that it can't not capture ones imagination. In the foreword to In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (incredible book): "In Patagonia, the isolation makes it easy to exaggerate the person you are: the drinker drinks; the devout prays; the lonely grows lonelier". I didn't pray - don't believe in it, I was alone - but far from lonely, I drunk - but I am not a drinker. What I am is crazy and whatt I did do was get a shit load crazier mutha f*$ker.

That is what I came all this way for.

That is why I said goodbye to routine, security, friends, family, girlfriend, job, my vespa. That is why I took this journey and that is why everyone else should. To become a better version of myself (yourself).

I question you this. How can you not go crazy sitting in front of Perito Moreno one of the only few glaciers in the world that is in fact growing and at a rate of a couple of metres a day, so fast they you can see it move let alone be terrified by the incredible rush of adrenaline as the things creaks, groans and moans like a pomee pigmee giving birth to a non pigmee baby from her french lover.

Patagonia is inquestionably the most incredible amazing place I have ever been to...

I could not help leave with remorse but without sorrow. Remorse that so much of what I would like to have done was not possible at this time of year with all the snow and/or not enough snow as I struck it in between seasons. But without sorrow as I have been privileged to be introduced to such a place of the world, a place of mystery, curiosity, adventure and a place I will have to return.

On arrival in El Chalten I saw them both against all odds...Cerro Torre and Monte Fitz Roy (3405m). Both considered amongst the most difficult of all mountains of the world to climb and in fact when first attempts were made by the mountaineers their arrogance was considered (by the pioneers inhabiting such a place) of upmost ditaste, even insolent. How pretentious of them, to even consider they could succeed in conquering those hitherto impegnable peaks. I could quickly see why as I (despite the weather odds) saw both in their splendor. As I ran the 28k trail under such and history...

it is really crazy which then sitting on a bus for 24hrs heading for Peninsula Valdes on the complete opposite side of the country gave me more than enough time to reflect.

The irony did not escape me as after eventually arriving on the coast that I was so far away from home sitting on a boat name "Na Nai'a" whereby the Argentinian owner told me it meant family of whales in Maori but which actually means Dolphins (close enough). The size of the bloody things when they rose by the boat vindicated any incorrect translation he may have given.

One ticket for another long bus trip of 17hrs to Bariloche please.

Where previous I thought I had seen it all standing in front of the Perito Moreno glacier after running up Cerro Cateral (2388m) I was met with an outlook that paralyzed my thoughts, my mind, my mouth and well it was pretty fucking cold so everything else was without much movement anyway so this may have something to do with it. Standing there one thing that wasn't paralysed was my eyes and with that tears rolled down my cheeks, overcome with emotion. Strange.

I can only imagine what people feel like from the top of Everest but I have an idea. This was not my Everest, it wasn't a difficult climb but sometimes tears are the only things that can provide one with a perception of the beauty that they forbear...Strangely, I almost did the same thing everytime I went into one of the many chcoclates shops of Bariloche which makes this place the home of South American chocolate and being a coco freak...I WAS HOME except I was sharing my room with 3 other people (2 of them bloody Aussies) so not really that much "at home". Plus the golf is mint.

With my palet teased by the incredulous vino tino (red wine for all you uncultured) I set forth for another 24hr bus ride to the home of the malbec and everything that is Mendoza...oh oh Mendoza. The autumn leaves and deep rich wines that inspire good conversation and good times. Need I say more?

With all this travelling and on this contenient there has been a lot. Over 15,000k by road, the same by plane, a few thousand km's by foot, 1000 or so on motorbike the most significant have always been crossing the Andeas or cordillera (in spanish) in whatever country. The pinacle bus trip has to be driving over the cordillera from Mendoza to Santiago. Passing the formidable Cerro Aconcagua (6962m) (the tallest of any moutain outside of the Himalayers), riding down the other through the steepness and multitude of switch backs, simply breathtaking to reach Chilean side of the pass and into Santiago.

But nothing beats the feeling of after 8 months and a further few thousand airmiles, of finding a packet of pineapple lumps (thanks Mum) on my bed, vogels in the fridge, the new Fat freddy's Drop Album awaiting (BUY IT IT IS COOL and if you don't shake booty on "Shiverman" I will give you your money back), a "welcome home" from an American accented Immigration Officer to the place we should call Aotearoa but most call New Zealand and some 5am conversation with Jack...Radio BFM, and hopefully soon some pies.

And here I am....another good couple of months of my journey to go and a lot of time to consider what has gone by and so I will but for now.

Ka Kite Ano

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