Infrequently, however inevitably, we are put in the right place at the right time to witness the splendor of the setting surrounding us. It has always been there; always ready for us to quietly sit and drink it up and let it touch us. But all too often we let the lesson end there - allowing the experience to touch us ephemerally but not irrevocably – we see the potential to bolster social media following but not the power to influence our future thoughts, decisions, paths, and actions.
On Saturday, June 18th, with the help of Claude and Lily, we checked out of our Airbnb and headed to Retiro, the bus station, to catch our bus to El Bolsón. We’d been told by a handful of people to be very careful at retiro as it’s a dangerous place. With this knowledge, Jill and I headed into the station cautiously. It can be easy at times, especially in new places with little local knowledge and little ability with the language, to let fear of the unknown dominate our actions and our expectations and thus completely alter the perception of an experience. Retiro is full of everyday people taking advantage of a more affordable means of transportation than flight or owning a car (purchasing automobiles in Argentina is unusually expensive). It’s no different than Grand Rapids. There are people probably partaking in some sort of dubious business, but if you mind your own business and watch your things, in reality, there’s nothing to fear. Once we determined a spot to sit while we waited, we thoroughly enjoyed the people watching. Kids playing with other random kids, long-missed relatives reuniting with the traditional kiss on the cheek and the not-so-traditional bear hug and slap on the back. It was just like home. I love watching people at airports; friends and family reunited with the same look of joy and excitement on their faces. The language or location doesn’t matter – people are people. It was good for Jill and I to have this little reminder so early in our trip. People here are no different than people in the States. They may have different priorities, values, opinions, and experiences, but generally speaking, people are good – and it’s important to keep this fact in the forefront of our minds as we continue on.
The trip was largely uneventful, aside from Jill’s bout of motion sickness in the middle of the night. 4 times. At the quietest moment possible on a cross-country bus trip. The Brazilian couple seated in front of us alternated between spraying cologne and perfume on themselves and applying copious amounts of hand sanitizer every time Jill returned from a round of ralphing. She had to climb down a narrow, steep staircase in pitch black, feel around for a door handle, and search for a light switch, all while trying not to toss cookies. Poor thing. Sounded like she was calling dinosaurs down there. Next time we’ll bring Dramamine.
I slept like a baby.
We spent the last leg of the trip driving through the Andes, hugging the Chilean border. It was stunning. The moon began to rise in the East and we occasionally saw it through valleys and popping up between jagged peaks. We came here for the mountains. It felt like our journey could finally begin. It was dark when the bus stopped and we got off. Moments later we were greeted by Ava. I’d coached Ava in rock climbing nearly a decade ago and had kept in touch with her and her family ever since. She helped us get a remise (cab) and took us up to the mountain, where they live.
We drove up and up and up for 30 minutes. After paying the driver, Ava led us through pitch black night down a trail through the trees that traversed over rushing water to what I can only describe as a charming adobe house. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw the milky way rising up from behind the moonlit mountains beyond the charmingly peculiar home. “Holy shit this place is beautiful. This is f#cking amazing.” These were truly my first words as we realized where we were.
Cathy and her three children, Ava (15), Stella (14), and Noah (11) had recently built on the property but this cozy, small house was the original build on the property. It is the perfect home-base for Jillian and me while we explore Patagonia. And it’s in the most beautiful spot I could imagine. Further, as we approached the house we were greeted by a Border Collie and eight puppies, all about 6 weeks old. We both melted. Is this real life?
The following morning, we awoke to the most incredibly jaw-dropping view. The sun was rising beyond the mountains and painting magenta, orange, and purple across the fading clouds, making the mountains and valley below appear blue. We sat there all morning until the show was done.
This has been an outstanding start to our journey. We will stay here for a few weeks then head to Bariloche to explore that town and do some trekking (and eat chocolate...allllll the chocolate). Stay tuned! PLEASE COMMENT BELOW! We miss you all and would love to hear from you! Bests!
-Jill and Ted