"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Monday, May 20, 2013

Puerto Madryn con Javier y Sol


Waking up in Patagonia. Breathless.


I collapsed onto the ground. We had hiked about 20 kilometers with huge knapsacks on our backs. The sun was hot. I laid down on the rocky cliff overlooking the ocean and fell asleep for a few minutes. I dreamt briefly of California. No real place in particular, just cabins made of rough-hewn timber sitting underneath the Californian sun.

When I woke up, the sun was beginning to skirt the horizon. "We should probably set up the tent before it gets too dark to see anything," I said to Lyndon.

"Where? Right here?"

I looked around, "Sure, why not?" We were on a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean. The tide was already beginning to recede, baring a glistening rocky coast, rubbed smooth by the lapping waters. It was beautiful.

So we set up camp, placed our bags in the tent and, as if by cue, twilight came. I suggested we did some yoga, Lyndon agreed, so we did a variation of Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutation). Synchronizing my breath with my movement under nothing but the light of the moon and the few stars peaking through twilight with the sound of waves behind me, I felt completely at peace. Even the cold Patagonian air stopped it's slow creep into my bones. I felt warm and happy.

Fully enveloped in the night, Lyndon and I sat at the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean and pulled out the bottle of whiskey we'd been saving since Bahía Blanca. We drank and talked about yoga, hitch-hiking, and how nice Javier and Sol were for lending us their tent. We had arrived the day before, cooked up a mean dinner of pineapple vegetarian curry. Discussing things to do, they suggested that we take the hike we just took to get to the point where we were now sitting and even offered to lend us the tent we were now using.

The night was unbearable. The wind picked up and at one point, I was convinced ogres and trolls were outside, growling and shaking the tent. I barely slept, gladly welcoming sunrise. The wind was still roaring in the morning, although a little more subdued than during the night. I decided to do a few rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) to greet the sun and I instantly felt better, as if I had a full night's sleep. Waiting for Lyndon to wake up, I grabbed my camera and explored the surrounding landscape. I even bumped into the herd of wild horses Lyndon had suggested trying to tame the day before.

On the hike back to Puerto Madryn, 20 kilometers seemed to be a shorter distance than when we had hiked it yesterday. We ended up staying with Javier and Sol for a little over a week, being delayed by rain. But it was nice. They had a notebook of recipes shared by the travelers who have passed through their home, all vegetarian recipes because Javier and Sol refuse to harm animals. I taught them how to love vinegar like a Filipino, Lyndon shared his ANZAC biscuit recipe, Javier taught us how to make bread, and Sol gave me a list of foods that help regulate seratonin and melatonin, helping to combat insomnia.


Javier and Sol playing with lights in the dark.


When the rain had looked like it had passed, we decided to continue the trek to the end of the world. Javier outlined the best way to get back on Ruta 3 to continue hitch-hiking.

"So you guys heading to Comodoro Rivadavia for sure?"

"Yep, found a couchsurfer willing to host us. Left his number and said to just call once we've arrived." I don't do well with goodbyes. With our departure set, I could already feel my voice growing awkward as I spoke.

"Be careful in Comodoro Rivadavia," Javier said in a serious tone that worried me a bit. "I've never been, but I've heard stories of travelers being robbed. It's a city built on oil money, so it's huge and hardly gets any travelers. The ones they do get, I hear they treat poorly."

"La Ciudad Gris," Sol said with her signature seriousness wrapped in a smile. The Gray City. "I don't know why they call it that, I've never been," she continued. "I just imagine a city with tall buildings under a perpetually cloudy sky."

Maybe Comodoro Rivadavia would be like a gritty Seattle, stuck in the age of industrialization. Looked like we'd find out.