Returning from my adventures in Peru, the only thing I wanted in the entire universe was to crawl into my bed and sleep for a very long time. Too bad I had signed myself up for yet another completely insane adventure that made my ancestors roll over in their graves and say, “Is this kid for real?”
It all started a few months back when my friend Scott stopped by for lunch to plan our trip to Chiloe, a small island off the coast of Chile, close to Puerto Montt. After figuring out some logistics, getting frustrated with limited information we could find out about our destination on the internet, we put down the maps looked at each other, obviously thinking the same thing. “You know what?” he asks, “why don’t we just wing it?” and there began our great travel buddy friendship based on mutual desires to set out on barely charted territories, a thrill for adventure and the inability to patiently sketch out legitimate plans. Once we had left the Chiloe plans to plan themselves, strewn about on the table, we uncovered a few plates of food that were left to be eaten in the kitchen.
Between bites, Scott told me about another grand adventure he was planning for the third week of December. He showed me the highlighted path he had marked on a detailed map of the southern half of Chile. For me this was new and foreign space, it sat down at the bottom of the world, fresh, barely touched: Patagonia. He talked about the Carretera Austral, a rough highway which was built by the Pinochet regime during the late seventies in order to connect all the tiny towns down there in the south. Ultimately, his intention was to gain more votes in the election. Scott talked about hitch hiking along the highway, stopping whenever it pleased him, meeting fellow travelers and eventually reaching Torres del Paine, the incredibly beautiful national park filled with mountains, hills, valleys, glaciers, rivers, lakes and array of rare animal species. I thought his plan sounded pretty good but inside I was laughing, wondering who in their right mind could spend seventeen days hiking about at the end of the world, really leaving everything to chance, encountering all sorts of situations and places that I would have no idea how to deal with. I sat back, lifted my eyebrows and told him it sounded pretty cool, telling him good luck, not wishing that trip on anyone. I personally, prefer a toilet to a hole in the ground.
A few bites into my lunch a realization hit me. “Scott, who are you gonna go with? Everyone in our program is going to be gone by then,” and then it hit me, “…except for me.” I had just spoken my own death sentence.
He said he was originally planning on making the trek alone, but would love if I could come as well. “It would be so cool, you can’t come all the way down here and miss seeing these things!”
Let it be known. I may live in Colorado (ahem think ROCKY mountains) but I haven’t hiked anything bigger than the barely noticeable incline on the way to school in the morning. I get short of breath if I have to climb to the second floor of our apartment and generally, I don’t like anything that requires a high level of physical agility, strength or endurance. What he was suggesting was completely ludicrous. I would die without a toilet, a hot shower and a soft bed for more than two weeks, braving the elements. So, you can imagine what I told him, “Yeah, I’ll go.”
(TO BE CONTINUED)