Adventure in Patagonia

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The spectacular mirador of Mt Fitz Roy and Laguna de los Tres

 

I have just come back from some of the best 5 weeks of my life. 5 weeks of driving 3,000+ km from Santiago, Chile all the way south to Punta Arenas (nearly as far as you can go, but not quite). We climbed volcanoes, camped by lakes with views of mountains, saw glaciers, icebergs and snow, met wonderful Chileans and Argentinians and other travellers, hiked through national parks and up to spectacular views of Fitz Roy and other torres. Travelled leisurely, fished and made campfires with a Dutch couple and celebrated the birthday of an Australian hitchhiker who had been getting rides around the world for the last 6 years. Camped in the snow and climbed the ice of the Viedma glacier in El Chaltén. Struggled with but enjoyed the challenge of trying to communicate with the locals when we spoke no Spanish and they spoke no English. Had opportunities to experience small town life, the casualness of the people who lived there and the uncertainty about where something was or whether it was possible to do one thing or another. One thing we discovered was that sometimes all you needed to do to get permission was to keep asking different people the same question until someone said yes 😛

So many amazing memories, adventures, people met, kilometers explored, empanadas eaten and mate shared. Now all I need to is write it down and add my pictures so I can remember, reflect and be inspired for my next adventure 🙂 So. that’s what the following posts will entail! A detailed recount of this exciting and adventurous period…

 

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Friendship

I know that in life change is inevitable. I also know that friends are made and lost. But it doesn’t make it any easier to accept. I believe that the relationships we form with others can be some of the most important parts of life. Especially those with close friends. But how can I allow myself to completely trust new friends again, when some of my closest, in fact ‘best’ friends, have completely dropped out of my life. When we once said we would be friends forever, and I have no inkling of what happened. I thought I had put these feelings behind me, but then all it takes is for me to inadvertently see a photo of a lost friend, and I feel crushed all over again.

Sometimes I feel so alone in this stage of my life. I feel like I have no one to confide in, and I end up with so much locked up inside, unable to share it. I desperately want close friends again, but then I also don’t want to risk it, or allow myself to get too close, because they could so easily remove themselves from my life again. Better to not be close to anyone at all, perhaps?

Queenstown, NZ Part 1

Finally I am documenting my first trip to Queenstown. It will likely be long, with an abundance of adjectives, but I want to remember everything of these magical few days in the South (:

On an early Thursday morning I boarded my plane bound for the South Island town in Otago, Queenstown. Of course I had heard many things about this place, from both locals and tourists alike, and I had been itching to visit for years. Finally it was my time to visit, and I could barely contain my excitement. From the advice of Gregor, who I was meeting and staying with down there, I had a window seat on the rear, lefthand side of the plane – perfect for viewing the scenery on the flight down… I was not disappointed either, with the view flying along the West Coast and above the Southern Alps everything that I could have hoped for.

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Spectacular Southern Alps

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The person in the window seat near me was sleeping during this flight; I couldn’t understand it!

I wasn’t sure what to expect for the descent into Queenstown airport; all I’d heard was that it would show off the skill of the pilot. Flying low over the mountains and between the surrounding ranges I could clearly understand this statement!

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Final descent into Queenstown

 

Shortly after we had landed we disembarked and I walked through the doors into the arrival lounge of Queenstown airport, where Gregor was awaiting me. I could hardly contain my excitement upon greeting him; both to see him again and to be finally there after so much anticipation! After a short drive we arrived at his beautiful house over-looking the magnificent Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range (very aptly named I must add). His lovely mum had made a beautiful blue cod soup and we downed a couple of bowls of this as we decided what to do with the rest of the day.

The wind was picking up on the slopes apparently, and as it was already late morning (and ski hire/life passes aren’t cheap) we decided to do a little sight-seeing before hitting the mountain. I had been reading about the area at the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu, and was keen for a visit. So we hopped into the car and headed north along the lake and towards Glenorchy.

Of course this drive was nothing short of beautiful, and so we stopped at a few great lookouts along the way:

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Looking north up the lake. This view took my breath away!

We arrived in the Glenorchy township, and got out by the jetty (and the shed seen in many pictures) to view the lake and mountains. Gregor and I with our matching cameras took time to take the view in (and of course document it too – I just couldn’t help myself!)

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Lake Wakatipu!

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From here we headed out to the start of the Routeburn track to take in a bit more of the surroundings. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do the hike this time, but after seeing the start, reading the informative signage and hearing about this track for years from my Mum, I am definitely putting this on my summer to-do list (hopefully this summer!).

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With the sun rapidly setting, we were really starting to feel the nip in the air, so decided to head back. On way back towards Glenorchy, we slowed on this one-way bridge over the Dart River (no traffic nearby!) to take this view looking back up the river:

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Looking north up the Dart River

I would love to come back here in the summer and explore these areas further by foot 🙂

Part 2 to follow..

 

The difference between the traveller and the tourist

I’m currently reading an amazing book by the British entertainer Mike Harding titled “Footloose in the Himalaya”. It’s an interesting account of his journeys through the Kingdoms of Zanskar and Ladakh, and then on to the foothills of Everest. He writes wonderfully about his experience, and it is a fascinating description of the people of this isolated location, and the ruggedness and harshness of this area. What follows is a particular quote of Harding’s that I thought is quite pertinent. (The book was published in 1990, so despite a few words that have gone out of use, the sentiment is the same).

“The traveller doesn’t expect to be provided with the comforts he has left behind. He tries to journey amongst the people, meeting them and living to some extent as they do, for a while at least. He will never become one with them because his cultural background and language are so different that there will always be a gap between himself and the people he is travelling amongst but he is trying to see and experience their world without changing it. In his travels through Arabia Wilfred Thesiger lived amongst the Arabs speaking their language, eating, drinking and sleeping exactly as they did. He is a good example of a traveller. The tourist, on the other hand, is jetted round the world, bend double with Pentax stoop, his fists full of touro-dollars, his video camera rolling. His sole object is to collect images, T-shirts, antiquities and ‘experiences’. Because he is too stupid to try and understand it, the culture is debased and packaged for him… the world is becoming a stage where the rare and beautiful is corrupted for the grinning fools who don’t seek to understand but want only to go home with a camera full of Kodachromes for the neighbours to gawp at, tut over, marvel at and squeal ‘How could you stand it?’ ”

 

 

Musings of the mind

Today after arriving home from work and doing the usual, eventual check of facebook I came across a blog post that someone had shared, titled ‘an interesting read’. Little did I know, just how interesting this would be, and the vortex of thought and varied readings I would be led into.

This initial article was brilliant, discussing the various reasons that scientists have for why we have not been contacted by other intelligent life from the universe. The possibilities are endless and all (bar one) seem logical and plausible. The ones that ring most true with me were those suggesting that humanity is actually not as advanced as we would like to believe, and other, far superior life in the universe has either better things to do than interact with us, or we are just too ignorant to understand their attempts to communicate, etc. Definitely food for thought.

At the end of this post was a link to another one, called “Putting time in perspective”. Of course, I am trapped in the void by now and naturally go on to reading through this post. It involves a series of timelines going further and further back into time. At the numerous timelines I stop to pause and think, and do a little digging; when did language come about [search the book Adam’s Tongue: How Humans made Language, How Language made Humans], continental drift and Pangaea, etc. (Google Scholar is great for this). When I reached the timeline showing the 3.6 billion years of life, and the tiniest smidgeon of this representing recorded human history, it is still just so incomprehensible. My thoughts go to the vast changes that have been seen on this planet, and how everything that we take for granted in this day and age is just so ridiculously irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I guess it is just another reminder of how much the little things, or little problems really don’t matter. And that I need to just appreciate what I have, the people that are here, and the positive things in life. Because my life is so small, especially in this perspective of the history of the world, and so I need to live in the moment, as it could be over at any time. But it is my lifetime, and it is the only one that I will know. So I must make the most of it.

This slightly went into a tangent near the end, but that is what happens sometimes, and this is, as the title says, purely my musings for this evening.

Customers at work

I guess one of my favourite things about working in retail is the interaction with interesting and varied people from day to day. The benefits of working in an outdoor shop is that a large majority of our customers are either foreigners getting gear for their travels through NZ, or locals kitting themselves up for their latest technical adventure. I love the task of finding the most suitable gear for their needs, and asking all I can to hear about their upcoming trips. Through the variety of trips that I hear about from customers, I am continually inspired. Quite often I see myself getting overly enthusiastic about the customer’s plans, however I don’t think this puts them off [fingers crossed]. 

I feel like I should make a tally of all the places that customers have come from/ where they have visited/ where they are off to next… If anything meeting all these people reminds me that as individuals we all have the most incredible story to tell, and we are all so unique. So much can be learned from strangers 🙂 It makes me eager to travel, and to meet these people in a setting where I can become their friends, and learn even more…

February?!

February 1st.. 27 days until thesis submission… Is this real? Where did that year go?! I still have a lot to do, and now the countdown is on. I can’t wait until this finished, and at the same time I will probably miss some parts of this university experience. So I really want to have a thesis that I am proud of, and can look back on without too many what-if’s and regret. Although, undoubtedly there will be an endless list of things I should have done better or differently.

Before I know it, this will be over. My thesis will be bound and I will wonder how I managed to put it all together. But, for that to happen, I need to actually get through these 27 days and WRITE! So, back to it then!

And I think this quote from the legendary Nelson Mandela is suitable here:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done”