When I arrived in Buenos Aires a little over a month ago, I had three main goals:
First, sleep and recover from a stressful, hectic, emotional, and wonderful last week in San Francisco.
Second, get comfy with the whole “living out of a backpack, alone” situation.
Third, head south to Ushuaia as soon as possible.
I didn’t know anyone in Ushuaia, nor did I know of anything specific to do. Something about the distance called to me. Ushuaia is the southernmost point of Argentina, nicknamed “Fin Del Mundo” (End of the World) and is the main port that researchers and explorers use to reach that most alien of lands, Antarctica.
Perhaps like Truman in “The Truman Show” I was seeking my own personal Fiji, “You can’t get further away before you start coming back.”
I soon learned that “you can’t get there from here.” The girls working at my hostel, America Del Sur in Buenos Aires, were aghast at the notion of going direct to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires by bus, my preferred route of travel, one I had longed for since before I arrived. I wanted to soak in the landscape during the long drive, and let myself expand into it.
“That would be 40-hour bus ride!” they said, in their wonderfully-accented English.
So I asked, “Then how do I get there?”
They thought for a moment, and replied, “Well, you have to take bus to El Calafaté.”
“Then I’ll take a bus to Calafaté. How much is it?”
“Well, you can no get to Calafaté from here either. You need change in Bariloché.”
“OK… can I get a bus to Bariloché?”
“Sí, you can.”
“Great. So I can stay a night in Bariloché and then go to Calafaté.”
“Yes, but one night in Bariloché is no enough!”
And thus began an epic adventure I didn’t see coming, to lands I’d never heard of, full of beautiful things I couldn’t have imagined, and people who were missing from my life that I didn’t even know.
I could have simply charged down to Ushuaia by bus – or given up and gone by airplane – ignoring warnings about long rides and things I would miss. I could have blindly stuck to my plans, rushing towards the vision I had in mind, blind to the moment as it unfolded before me.
But then, the following might not have happened…
DJ’ing in Bariloche for the crew at Ruta 40 –
Climbing Campanario and getting my first glimpse of the overwhelming beauty of Patagonia –
Click any panoramic shot for a larger version.
Getting lost and ultimately finding my way to Villa Tacul beach –
Arriving in El Calafaté to discover it’s possible to trek on the indescribably beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier –
Learning something important about myself in the process –
And meeting my new friend Ben <3 –
Then traveling to El Chaltén, experiencing the beauty of Fitz Roy, Lago De Los Tres, Cerro Torre, and mí corazón, Laguna Capri –
And making a friend in Afra, the Duchess of Holland, on the way –
Returning to El Calafaté to ride on horseback through the endless Pampa, in sight of the Perito Moreno glacier beyond –
Next, onward to Puero Natales in Chilé to complete the epic 5-day “W” trek in Torres Del Paine National Park, a life-changing experience that will definitely receive it’s own post…
Seeing phenomenally beautiful sights –
and meeting amazing people with strong hearts who made a difference in my life along the way.
Then celebrating the achievement (and later ending up partying too hard with some Puero Natales locals) –
Then, in an honest attempt to finally get to Ushuaia, going to Punta Arenas, Chilé. Where I found out the bus I wanted was sold out. So I spent an extra day seeing king penguins in Tierra Del Fuego –
and got to see both sunrise and sunset in a long ride of self-realization –
Before FINALLY, at long last, getting on to a bus to Ushuaia –
Arriving at the end of the world –
And Tierra Del Fuego National Park –
Receiving as my welcome… a day of rain. And with it, a day of rainbows –
And a glimpse of a gate into the beyond –
But here, here was the point I wished to reach, the end of Route 3, a road that leads all the way to Alaska –
Not much to it…
… except for everything it took to get there.
And my final view of Tierra Del Fuego National Park, only a few muddy steps visible on a path into the distance, towards something special, something undiscovered –
Was it ever about the destination? Do these final few photos sum to the majesty of the experience of the month that it took to get there, including the people, places, and things along the way?
No, they never could have.
And they never do.
Life, whether mine or yours, is never about the destination. It is about the journey.
So as I bring to a close the first chapter of this experience, I celebrate my journey as I celebrate yours. They are not so different, beneath the surface.
It is never really about the things we want, but the growth and expansion we experience along the way towards getting them.
Farewell Ushuaia, farewell Patagonia –
Thank you. Until next time.