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  • Patagonia

    outside bariloche

    outside bariloche

    This country seems undiscovered. We spent two weeks driving down to El Calefate and back, through a massive chuck of Patagonia, all the while wondering where the people are… why isn’t this country saturated by tourists, adventurers, opportunists, and entrepreneurs? It’s not hard to spot these people in the streets of any major city, but the country is still so vastly unpopulated- and gorgeous… really, even the broad expanses of shrubbed desert are serene and attractive, spotted with estancias which managed to find a water source and irrigate their fields lined with massive, luscious tree towers. And driving just the two of us in our Volkswagen Gol made it all the more enjoyable. We pulled over just as often as we liked for pictures, pisses, craps, stretches, etc. Sometimes our curiosity took us down strange little roads, where nothing would disappoint because anything was expected. We slept in the car and in the hammock-tent at various spots: parks, campgrounds in little towns, and out in the middle of nowhere. And in between we splurged in the major towns getting double rooms in hotels and dorm beds in hostals. We had no set itinerary, mostly letting the decisions come when they needed to- occasionally using the coin flip’s insightful decisions making abilities to aid us. What an adventure that was…

    The day before Christmas we arrived back in El Bariloche. All told we drove 5603 kilometres or 3,481.54 miles with me behind the wheel and Lada at my side preparing snacks, switching cds, navigating, and generally taking care of me as only she knows how. It was the most pleasant time we’ve had on this whole trip- just the two of us with no one to rely on or worry about but ourselves. If you ever take trip to Patagonia, I highly recommend you rent a car… it’s cheap too.

    Now, we’re in the massive and wild city of Buenos Aires. It’s ok as far as cities go… busy, lots to do, fast-paced, pretty in places, and there’s plenty of stores to piss away your money like crack-addicts. Personally, I get tired pretty fast of cities. You could fall in love with BA, if you spent enough time here. But I’m a tourist in transit- and I’m not getting much out of this city other than interesting new experiences. Tango is ubiquitous. There’s also just every other kind of cultural show/dance/theater event you would expect in a major metropolitan city. We went to an Armenian restaurant and watched that strange traditional dance, clapping as encouraged and shouting “Opa!” at regular intervals. We tried to learn Tango at a school, and witnessed various professionals wow us in the streets. We’ve managed to adjust our sleeping/waking schedules so that we can eat dinner around 11:00 pm and go to the clubs around 2:00 am… sleeping until 11:30 the next day. Today we’re relaxing so our bodies will be ready for the all night punishment we’re hoping to give them for the New Year.

    The day after tomorrow we head to Argentina’s favorite city: Rosario. Then it’s up to Iguazu and then on into Brazil. I haven’t been too compelled to write these days, as I’ve spent most of my time enjoying every passing minute with Lada. She’s purchased her ticket- on the 23rd of January she’s flying our of Rio de Janiero… back to Thailand: work, family, and country. We’re hoping to spend a few days at Jim’s house before she leaves. Jim: I’ll send you the details of our plans as soon as I’m done with this entry.

    As for photos, I managed to get most of them on: http://picasaweb.google.com/augman

    All from Argentina and Patagonia still need to be uploaded. I’ll do that before I leave BA, probably… there’s some good one’s in that batch.

    Well, I hope you all have a Happy New Year!!

    Three nights in the wilderness

    Augie son finds balance with crane stance

    Augie son finds balance with crane stance

    It’s strange how you forget that living takes a lot of doing in the absence of society’s conveniences. After over two months of traveling around South America we were beginning to tire of all our transportation, sleeping, and eating needs supplied to us by others. Is a South American adventure really that if you’ve nothing to worry about but where to go and how to not let your stuff get stolen? Hardly. I’d been feeling the urge to do some trekking on our own ever since we left Laguna Quilatoa in Ecuador. Venturing out into the wild in a strange country is more rewarding than blowing your money in a modern tourist town, that’s for sure.

    So we did it. We bought a couple sleeping bags and mats, rented a tent, stocked up on 4 days worth of food, and headed out by bus to a little lake nestled between rolling mountains. The first night was only a short walk from the road, in an organized camp site, that cost us 10 pesos each. Since you can’t make fire in the national park, we were happy to stay here and have some cooked food. Hamburgers, cheese, burnt potatoes onions and garlic, boiled eggs, and fresh carrots and green peppers filled our stomach throughout the night. We placed our hotdogs and sandwich meat under a rock and encased in a large branch in the lake so as to keep the meat cold… hoping to eat it the next few days. It was secure when we left it- no small waves from the lake would dislodge it, surely. But to our great dismay and repeated disappointment throughout the rest of the trip, we woke up the following morning to find the rock and branch 10 feet apart, and the bag of meat mysteriously gone. Thieves, we decide, were responsible be they quad or bi-ped… oh well, live and learn. That’s the last time I so readily put my meat in a lake overnight. Protect thy meat!

    Down a substantial portion of food supplies, and a tad worried about going hungry the next few days, we took inventory and decided we had enough to hike around the lake- a two day journey in an unpopulated national park. We head out around noon the following day- with tuna, cheese, bread, oatmeal, eggs, snacks, apples, some veggies, and two spuds. We were graced with clear blue skies and nice breezes as we hiked the 7 kilometers to our next campsite- Playa Muñoz. Without another soul in sight, we spend the night wishing we could make fire while relishing each second of our alone time. We noticed that even though we’ve spent every minute of every day together since we began this journey, we haven’t had this sort of time together- the happy, playful time of two unburdened lovers having fun together, like the early days of our relationship. It was refreshing.

    The next day we packed our stuff, had a quick breakfast of hardboiled eggs and apples, and headed along the beach to the other end of the lake. Halfway there we hear music bouncing across the water from the opposite side. Assuming the organized camping across the lake has a bar, and looking forward to a beer, we eagerly continue. But as the realization that the silence and peace of our seemingly private natural haven is coming to and end, we stop for lunch in a shaded spot to stretch these moments of joy to their limits. Sick of tuna, we resort to mustard and bread sandwiches, finish off the eggs, and munch some green peppers and carrots. Satisfied, we pick up our packs and continue towards the noise.

    Upon arrival, we find that, oddly, this was the day of the annual Encuentro do Motos… or biker party. So, the camp grounds were filled with hundreds of bikers of all sorts, rallying, revving, competing, drinking, and listening to rock and roll music. Thinking that we’re the only hikers there that night and not quite fitting in with the style of these rough and tough biker dudes, we feel a wee bit intimidated. As soon as they start playing Sympathy for the Devil, scenes of that Hells Angels organized Rolling Stones concert where people are stabbed to death grudgingly come to mind. Will we be safe, or will the biker dudes play drunken gringo-baiting as they encircle us with their motos?! Assuming our wild imaginations are probably far from reality, we register and set up our tents for what will surely be a long night…

    Encuentro de Motos

    Encuentro de Motos

    Sad days ahead

    For almost my entire life it has never been very difficult to decide what to do at the next stage. As a kid, adolescent, young-adult, and early 20-something all steps were sort of laid out ahead of me… expectations were set, opportinities were given, and I was willing to follow the flow. Easy. I may have done many exceptional things in this short life, but I haven’t struggled through tremendous adversity with the strength of my determination and overcome vast odds like the heroes you read about. The only thing that is exceptional about me and my life is the profound luck and fortune that constitutes the foundation of it all. So far in life, it seems that I have very good karma.

    So far… life has been a joy-ride. But now I’m sitting in a beautiful town in a spectacular country surrounded by happy people going about their happy lives, and I’m more confused and sad and heart-broken and scared than I’ve ever been. Now I’m thinking about what to do with my life, and there’s no illuminated road infront of me. There’s no path of least resistance. They all look dark and difficult. I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that no matter what I choose to do, there will be hardship and pain ahead.

    For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m having to make decisions that will affect the next 10 or 20 years! I’ve never thought more than a year in advance, and I’ve been quite happy as a result. I never cared about commitment, because change has always been so frequent and even welcomed. I’ve never worried about who I’m going to be in the future, because I’ll figure it out when the time comes. And I’ve never had to decide whether or not I’m going to leave the love of my life, my companion, my other half, in the opposite side of the world. I’ve never had to worry about hurting someone I care most about.

    I’ve never been this torn. Three years I’ve had to think about this, dreading the day when we’re forced to choose and accept dramatic changes to our lives. The only thought that has reassured me through this has been: I’ll know what to do when the time comes. Now the time to know is right around the corner, and I’m afraid of what I decide. I’m afraid that I’m going to suffer, and my sweet sweet pootie is going to suffer even more, and we’re going to do it alone… on opposite sides of the globe.

    But part of me also welcomes this. Like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down, terrified, asking yourself why you’re even in this position… but knowing in the back of your mind, in that little voice that’s being drowned out by the fear, that you have to jump and you’ll be happy you did. When it’s over… you’ll be happy. After the dread has left you, the extreme emotion of the event washes through you, and the recovery is complete, you know you’ll feel like a new man- stronger, wiser, happier, with renewed purpose, and the talent and sheer will to make things happen. I need to struggle for my future, I need to confront the challenge of life head on and take it in the balls… face the suffering like a man and come crawling out the other end, scathed, but alive… like the heroes you read about.

    My test is coming… and I pray that I have the courage to succeed. I pray that I make wise decisions. I pray that my life’s fortune wasn’t just a fluke, and that I continue to have mainly good karma. And more than anything, I pray that Lada does not suffer too dearly. That’s really what hurts the most- thinking about hurting her.

    Fingers crossed… and on into the void we go. Wish us luck.

    Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.