Another day, Another adventure

They say most people pass the first three months of a yearlong trip fairly easily before they start to feel inklings of homesickness. While I wouldn´t call my current state of being ¨homesick¨, I recently have been missing my friends, my apartment, my favorite bars and cafes…Dan Savage podcasts…Marlowe & Sons…Brooklyn Brewery ales…even the harsh February weather in NYC. Don´t get me wrong, every day my senses are being stimulated and shocked with maximum beauty and the most spectacular nature here, but it is just that, perhaps, that has been making me feel a bit lonely at times.

I completed my first trek, the Nahuel Huapi traverse in the Patagonian Lakes Region last week, thankfully meeting three Israeli dudes at the first refugio (tiny log cabins sparsely scattered across the Andes), whom I hiked with for the following two days. The trek had proved to be more technically difficult than I had heard and I´m not sure if I would have been able to complete it alone as I did not have adequate maps and did not cross paths with other humans on the trail. The Andes are massive after all. The guys were amazingly resourceful (having been in the army for 3 years as all Israelis are required), and we cooked full meals and indulged in herbal remedies in the woods throughout the journey. We were a jolly crew, hi-ho hi-ho-ing our way through 3 types of forest and taking dips in swimming holes along the way, singing songs in Hebrew.

The landscape changed every minute, through 3 diverse types of forest until the first refugio

The landscape changed every minute, through 3 diverse types of forest until the first refugio: Valdivian Rainforest, Deciduous Alpine, and Coniferous. I wish David Attenborough were in the back narrating to me.

The second day we climbed up and over 3 mountains in a hailstorm

The second day we climbed up and over 3 mountains in a hailstorm

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Arriving at Refugio Jakob after a grueling day

Arriving at Refugio Jakob after a grueling day

Passing time until the sun goes down

Passing time until the sun goes down

Early morn by the refugio lake, tin of coffee in hand

Early morn by the refugio lake, tin of coffee in hand

Rice and canned corn for lunch in true army fashion

Rice and canned corn for lunch in true army fashion

I decided to hike up to refugio Otto Meiling (a tiny hut wedged between 2 glaciars) a few days later, after letting my bandaged feet and tired body heal minimally. I made it to the refugio relatively easily, enjoying wine, card games, and the company of fellow international hikers in the cabin. The next morning, I sat atop the mountains looking out into the world feeling and understanding the vast and wide universe, my heart open and free…I had just finished reading ¨Touching the Void¨ and had begun to understand the addiction of mountain climbing and challenging the self until death, feeling all-powerful and invincible in the face of Mother Nature. But you can´t fuck with Mother Nature.

Waterfalls and falling glaciars off Glaciar Castano Overa

Waterfalls and falling glaciars off Glaciar Castano Overa

Glaciar Castano Overa

Glaciar Castano Overa

overlooking Glaciar Manso

overlooking Glaciar del Manso

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The energy of Refugio Otto Meiling: International hikers and climbers bond over card games and wine

The energy of Refugio Otto Meiling: Climbers unite in the candelight

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Feeling a surge of independence and inspired to do some self-reflection, I decided to make it back down alone the next day (I had made it up the same way, after all.) To make a long story…less long, I ended up taking a wrong turn, mistaking a clearing in the forest for a marked trail, and found myself thrashing through a thick bamboo forest, using my arms and legs as machetes, collecting cuts by the minute, completely lost for 2 hours. Occasionally, I´d encounter wet rocks and small waterfalls, and be forced to grasp hanging vines to literally scale the falls. I tripped forward and fell backwards on low bamboo branches and began to feel like I was in the Vietnam War but without adequate gear. At one point, I decided to stop, collect my awareness, and see if my compass could point me in some relative direction. Success! According to a shoddy map and a compass I got in the 4th grade, I was headed the right way! 15 minutes later, I found myself on a dirt path, though sans my iPod which had somehow fallen out of my pocket as I had been scaling down the rocky falls. I dwelled on my bad decisions for the remaining 2 hours down to the trailhead, and beat myself up over my stupidity during the bus ride back to town. And for what felt like the last straw, my wonderful pair of quick-dry Patagonia underwear that I had left at the hostel were gone when I returned…so to come full circle, these ingredients added to my recipe of missing my life at home. It was all just an inate bad feeling I had of irresponsibility and ignorance. Perhaps it´s a sign that I should let my body relax. Perhaps it´s a sign to chill out on the risk-taking. Perhaps it´s a lesson to keep my independent ego in stride. Perhaps it´s a test to stop beating myself up over things I can´t control and can´t change. In the end, I suppose everything is a lesson learned and some things have to be learned the hard way.

¨You´re such an American…chill out and don´t feel like you have to be so active all the time!¨ Several Irishmen at my hostel scolded me as I sulked and pitied myself.

¨It´s because you´re from New York!¨ An Argentine reasoned, ¨You are too hard on yourself!¨

C´est la vie.

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~ by ceciliabien on February 26, 2009.

One Response to “Another day, Another adventure”

  1. At least Patagonia stuff is cheap down there … Right?

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