In Patagonia: the W Trek

Cus I'm so well read and shiiiiit(buzzfeed and tmz count riiight?) im gonna start this entry with a quote from Bruce Chatwin, author of In Patagonia.

"I have done what I have threatened.  I have left N.Y. for South America."

Obviously when I read that quote, it resonated with me immensely... and even though I've had somewhat of a convoluted path... I too am in south america... and now I'm reading In Patagonia while IN PATAGONIA.  That's some inception shiiit, riiiight?!? (Sorry.. that'll be the last time I will use the words shiiiit and riiight in close proximity in this entry.  As a "well read" person, I have a much more expansive vocabulary list although I choose to express myself with a few words that encapsulate my emotions... less is more!!)

 

 

But anywhose.. I'm here.  I'm in Patagonia.  When I set off for South America, I had three thigns I knew what I wanted to do.. visit the Galapagos (check), visit Patagonia (check), and celebrate Carnival in Brazil (it's coming up!!) And while it's a teensy weensy bit chilly all the way down here... it's also oh sooooooo extraordinarily beautiful, and therefore, the awesomeness far outweighs the cold.. Plus I've been doing so much trekking and lots of sweating so el temprano has been refreshing, though the wind is SUPERRRR FUERTE and almost blew me off a cliff a couple of times (thank goodness i had my massive bag to anchor me down.)  But I got a pretty picture sooo.. #WORTHIT.

I've just completed the W Trek which was an amazing 5 day, 4 night hike in Torres del Paine National park in Chile. I did the trek alone since I had a limited timeframe and couldn't settle on the dates to do it with a few friends.... to be perfectly honest, I enjoy hiking alone because I think when I'm outdoors, I want to be surrounded by nature and in my own thoughts instead of with a large group. 

It wasn't a technically hard trek; everything was well marked and well maintained. I started from the east and worked my way westward: I spent the first night at the base of the Torres, and visited the mirador the next day. I spent the next day hiking 5 hours to the next campsite, and on day 4 I trekked through the extraordinary French Valley up to Britanco mirdador where i was completely surrounded by huge mountains. On my final day I had an uber long hike down to the spectacular Grey Glacier where I sat down to have lunch and listen to the the thundering crackling of the glacier.

The trail was pretty flat and never got to an extreme altitude... but the distances I'd have to walk during some days were pretty long (over 18 hours in 2 days) and since I was carrying my food, my bag was pretty heavy (I <3 food) though it got lighter as the days went on (which meant that all the pounds in my bag went straight into my body but hey.. a girl's gotta eat!!) I also ended up camping, though I didn't bring my own tent since I was afraid i woudln't be able to set it up properly and it woudl fly away (the wind is noo joke.. it gets up to 60MPH) so I had the property set it up for me.  

Basically I had no warm food, no hot showers (barely any showers in general.. smelled so great by the end! some girl told me I got tanned and I licked my finger, rubbed my face and told her it was just a layer of dirt lols) and no bed, but I met some of the most wonderful people who shared their stories, their food & their booze with me :) And I got to eat countless amounts of peanut butter wraps, which I looooved since I have the refined palette of a 5 year old!!

 

But back to my original point (sort of)... Bruce Chatwin's book In Patagonia. The book is about all the different people he encountered In the region during the 70s with interesting historical tidbits scattered throughout the book...  It's separated into 97 sections with each section being it's own unique anecdote. Instead of being written in the typical linear structure, the randomness of each section mirrors one of the underlying themes of the work as a whole: a meditation upon wandering and nomadism in human life. This is accentuated by the fact that many of the narratives of the people that Chatwin meets in the work involve discussions of the nomadic life. One of my favorite sections was about the former "king" of Patagonia who was this French lawyer, Oriele-Antoine who thought the indigenous people (Mapuche) that were fighting with the governments of Chile and Argentina to retain their land would be better served with a European acting on their behalf (aka the white savior). His efforts at securing international recognition for the Mapuche were thwarted by the Chilean and Argentinian governments, who captured, imprisoned and then deported him on several occasions. He eventually died penniless in France in 1878 after years of fruitless struggle to regain his perceived legitimate authority over his conquered kingdom.

While I didn't encounter people as entertaining as Oriele-Antoine, I met some great people along the way. Some of my favorite people included: 

  • a group of Australian boys who I met on my first night and who had just finished the trek bought me a bottle of wine since they wanted to celebrate their accomplishment (and wanted me to participate in their debauchary)
  • two super nice Korean girls who keep sharing their grapes and chocolate and vitamins with me
  • an Australian/Dutch couple from Perth who I ended up bumping into loads of times and sharing a bottle of wine that the person who was sleeping in my tent left for me the night before
  • a professional photographer from Turkey who took some great photos of me (still waiting for his email unfortunately!)
  •  a German girl who was traveling with her father.. she had been traveling around the world for the past year and a half and was going to learn how to become a baker before going to university
  • an archeology professor from Italy who I met on my bus ride from Puerto Natales to El Calafate and who cracked open a beer and shared it with me cus we were traveling super late and beer is a carb so it was technically our dinner (yay for liquid meals!!)
  •  a sweet Argentinian couple who I spent a bunch of hours chatting and joking with in Spanish (it feels good to finally have people understand my jokes!) and who offered to let me use their gas cooker to warm up my food (you cannot warm up peanut butter wraps but it was still a kind offer)
  • some funny Chilean women who gave me some warm mate and were laughing because I was dropping Chilean slang into our conversation
  • a couple of the Chilean refugio workers who snuck me a sandwich and a beer
  • and a group of Israelies who I was sharing a room with at a hostel who serenaded me to sleep with their guitars and ukeles
  • an Asian American girl who was a fulbright scholar. she was doing research on the criminal justice system in chile.. and we had mutual friends (haiii tyler!)

It seemed like even though people didn't have a ton, they wanted to give me whatever they could, which I appreciated immensely (and I can never turn down free things.) I decided to pass on the kindness though after I returned to Puerto Natales and bought a few packages of cookies and other non-perishable items and left it in the hostel with a note that said I wanted to pay it forward, and I'd hope they do the same. 

ANYWHOSE, a group of my girllll franz are coming to visit and I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THEM!!! We'll be doing some ice trekking, which will be uber fun, and other pretty day hikes before they leave meeeeeee for buenos aires.. i'll try and hitchhike back north, though it may be a little difficult since the distances are quite farrrr.. but it never hurts to try!!! Might be a while before I update, but I'll keeep you posted peeps!!