The winding road towards the Carrera Austral. (See all the pictures here…)
The Chinese maid knocked and entered my Hong Kong apartment in one fluid movement. And by apartment, I really mean a single room so compact that that if you stood in the kitchen you could reach the door, bed, shower or desk in one step. She looked at me and then her eyes drifted to the two glowing monitors, mess of cables and electronic devices spewing onto my desk. From there, her gaze traveled to my bed where a giant map was spread out and covered in red circles and writing. Then, with a look of surprise probably due to the fact that the tiny apartment resembled the den of some gweilo spy, she backed out without saying a word.
It was 2005 and it was on my first Technomad journey. I had coined the term to use as a collective title for my travel stories and thus began the The Technomad Journals. However, the term became more than just a title almost immediately. I soon realized the power of being able remotely sustain yourself and furthermore if you could combine the lower costs in much of the world with the income of a Western job, it meant that you could live well and not work too much. (NOTE: The key here is you need to have the backing of Western clients or a company, not trying to convince a Thai restaurateur that he owes you money Technology has already begun to offer us this unprecedented experience – however, this was still the early days and with a suitcase full of hardware, I didn’t really understand the concept of lightweight living. 5 years later, devices are smaller, more capable and more connected than ever – and we are truly heading towards the possibility of a streamlined and wide spread Technomadic existence.
Oh boy was I smart! I had crossed the border from Argentina into Chile where I’d stayed in the charming town of Chile Chico for two nights, preparing for an impromptu journey, 500km north on the rural, and desolate, Carretera Austral ‘highway’. I was nursing a cold (probably due to my thoroughly failed wet-weather gear in the mountains near El Chalten) and was happy to catch up on some writing while consuming large amount of homemade bread washed down with instant soup. Everything was going to plan and I had bought a boat ticket for the next morning. In bed on my final night, I had tossed and turned until late; I’m not usually an insomniac but if I’ve digested or produced a lot of neuron-firing content before bedtime it takes me a while to settle down. The only boat headed to the other side of the vast Lago Buenos Aires was at 7am, but I was smiling because I’d realized that Chile was an hour behind Argentina, and I’d changed my clock hence buying me an extra hour of sleep. How smart I was, I thought to myself as I finally drifted off to my usual realm of surprisingly boring dreams. Yes, it’s odd, but I tend to dream about things like being at a supermarket or waiting in a line at the airport.
I awoke two minutes before my alarm, something that always makes me feel like it’s going to be a great day, had a leisurely shower, packed and went down to breakfast. As I walked into the kitchen I experienced one of those shortness of breath moments when I looked at the clock and it read Argentine time – it said 7:15!
“Que hora es?” I asked the owner of the hospedaje, who was up and getting ready for work.
“Siete y cuarto.” He knew that I had to catch the boat, but in his leisurely rural way, smiled, pointed at the clock, then at me and then rested his head on his two hands – the international symbol for sleeping. I grabbed my bags, said goodbye and ran out the door while projecting a slew of colorful language – my profanities fell on deaf ears of course, no one in this town spoke English. I ran down the street for five minutes to the pier, just in time to see the rear of my boat disappearing behind a peninsula. The only other guy on the pier was a construction worker who seemed equally amused by my unintelligible cursing.
“Manana. A la siete.” He smiled, then playfully frowned as he offered his advice which included a wave of his finger to indicate ‘no’ and then the international symbol for sleeping. So apparently Chile Chico uses Argentina time? What the hell, people!
I was upset at myself, then at my clock, and then at a rock which I kicked down the street. But I quickly turned my mood around, by laughing at myself: for someone who prides himself on ‘going with the flow’, I was certainly all ruffled up over a missed boat. Additionally, I will mention that if you enjoy writing, any possible upset has the potential to be the beginning of a story – if you just let it reveal itself. I had a determination to not go back to the hospedaje defeated so reframed this setback as the beginning of my dirt-road adventure around the gigantic lake. Truthfully, I hadn’t been worried about it at all, that is, until yesterday when I had told a restaurant owner of my plan and he pointed at the first 200km portion of the route on my map, and said:
“Muy Dificil! No mucho automobil” He had suggested that I get the boat, at least until the other side, which was more traveled. Come on now, how hard could it be to find a ride? Well, I soon found, in the local supermercado where apparently you buy the tickets, that the only bus leaving town was full. OK, well time for some hitchhiking, I said to myself, and crafted a simple sign out of an old shoe box with a marker I bought instead of a ticket. I posted up at the town’s main intersection – a bustling crossroads of the occasional car and a few street dogs that came by to smell the new guy in town (NOTE: I am still carrying my rusted metal pipe from Calafate…)
At this vantage point I became aware of one or two other foreigners coming through town and after friendly nods was exchanged, they would usually come by to say ‘hello’. In highly populated tourist areas, tourists tend to diverge, trying to avoid anyone that will spoil the illusion that they’re rare foreigners in otherwise untouched cultures! However, in towns with so few, we tend to converge because it’s just kind of nice to see someone as out of place as you. Next I met Kaste, an older German man who was taking a break from motorcycling Argentina’s rugged Route 40 to explore some Chilean farmlands. Kaste spoke zero Spanish – in fact it didn’t even seem like he was trying to learn any either, much to the amusement of locals who had gathered around his bike. The were asking how many cylinders, how much it cost, where he was from but all he could answer was:
“No Espanol!” They laughed to each other, until old Kaste probably felt so uncomfortable that he mounted his giant, grit-covered KLR and drove off, shaking his head at me. I had been passing the time by reading a pretty appropriate Sci-Fi novel called Snow Crash, which centers around the idea that language itself is hackable. Maybe he should read Snow Crash – or at least get a phrase book and make an effort.
After 3 hours, me and my wind blown sign had barely gotten a glance so, with the advice of a fat n’ jolly senora, I decided to move to the gravel road that led out of town – a way smarter idea, ensuring that all cars passing were actually going out of town. Under a sign that indicated the daunting distances to faraway towns, I met Victor. He worked for the local municipality and was heading over to a neighboring town – I think to visit his girlfriend, because his wife was away, or his wife’s siter, or both. I didn’t really understand fully but was amble to make idle chit chat because I had a secret weapon, one that Kaste could have benefited from greatly. Before leaving Buenos Aires, I had loaded my iPhone with a Spanish-English dictionary and a conjugator for the most popular verbs. Inputting quick taps between these two programs I was quickly being able to learn a basic and functional Spanish. I entered words that I heard but I didn’t know and speedily find nouns and verbs to mesh together into a butchered, but often intelligible sentence. After learning that Victor was a child of six, and father of three, what days our birthdays were on and the rest of the basics, we’d passed an hour under the sign, while thumbing a couple of cars with no success. Victor went over to a tree with a stick and hit it until some apricots fell to the ground. He offered me one – it was fantastic. At that point he picked up his bag, looked at me and said:
“Voy a mi casa.” As he tapped his watch. “Voy a regresar manana.” It slightly worried me that a local was giving up until tomorrow, but now in my 6th hour, I decided to make a final stand..
It started to lightly rain as a very blonde and very wind-blown, red faced man in a colorful jacket and blue tights approached me on a bike.
“Waiting for a ride, I see?” But before I could answer, “I am Gunther from Austria!” He exclaimed victoriously. He then straddled the bike, and reached into his bike’s front pouch. His odd nature made me wonder what he was going in there for, but he harmlessly pulled out a can of already open pineapple rings which he poked into his mouth while continuing to look at me.
“Well, nice to meet you Gunther. I’m Douglas from Los Angeles.” Which seemed to aways have a more excited reaction than just saying “Estados Unidos.”
“Aah, like Michael Douglas.” He grinned. It’s funny, in non English speaking countries, this has to be the number one response when I introduce myself.
“Yes, exactly, except I’m not an old sex addict… yet!” Gunther either didn’t understand the joke or didn’t find me funny.
“And so! You are going north?” Wiping the pineapple juice off of his splotchy, reddish-white chin with the back of his sleeve.
“Yep, looking for a ride. What about you – biking north?”
“Yes, but no!” And laughed. “This next part of the road is difficult for biking. I prefer to get a lift to towns, and then ride around!” He now laughed some more, finding this idea funny. “And so, maybe see you!” He placed the pineapple can back in his front pouch and rode off in the direction that he’d come from.
Sometime later I was joined by two Chilean backpackers headed the same way – they were nice but it made me more concerned that I was now even less likely to get picked up; groups are less likely to be given lifts, but on the other hand, one of the Chileans was a cute girl – who tend to be infinitely more likely to get picked up, so perhaps it balanced out. We chatted for a while and to my amusement they thought I was Italian! Well, I am half-Italian but they said that I spoke Spanish with a slight Italian twang, a relic of having lived in Rome when I was young. I was beginning to think I might have to begin the glum march back to the hospedaje when I saw a little bus bobbing down the road from the supermercado – no doubt the full bus that didn’t have room for me. I stuck the thumb of my right hand and waved my left arm and smiled my face off. The bus pulled over and a French-sounding guy stuck his head out a window.
“We have space!” I scanned the faces inside and it seemed like he was the only other tourist.
The driver got out, an we arranged a $12 ride to Puerto Guadal – almost all the way to the main intersection of the Carretera Austral – which supposedly had more thru-traffic. Just as I had got into the bus, a large truck pulled up to the Chileans and had opened it’s rear doors where they were apparently welcome to sit with a bunch of logs. I felt jealous of their authentic hitching experience until I realized it had started raining harder and once closed in, there would be no way to look out. Suddenly $12 in a warm, dry bus with windows seemed like a great deal.
The driver bungeed my bag to the top, I crammed in next to a guy with a beret and a thick mustache and we were on our way! It’s truly a wonderful feeling, when you’ve been waiting for a ride all day and then you get one and you’re moving, moving on to the next adventure! I think I smiled for the first half hour as I pressed my face against the glass. While cloudy, the view of the mountains and lake was still spectacular. The dinky bus, packed with 10 passengers and one very serious driver, sped along gravel roads, past valleys and farms and along the edge of lake-side precipices. ‘He’s done this before’, I assured myself. We weaved around giant boulders that had fallen into the road, and passed the remains of a horribly mangled guardrail sandwiched by some bouquets of flowers. ‘Our odds are good – if we were in Vegas, I’d bet on us.’ Sometimes even logic didn’t really cut it, but I always remember the words of my Mom when she’d move us to another country or when she was plotting her next life move:
“There’s nothing to fear, except fear itself, Douglas. You could drown in a bathtub.”
We passed some graffiti on a bridge: ‘Patagonia sin represas!’ Apparently to meet the country’s growing energy needs, the Chilean government is considering the damming of some major waterways, which would cause some environmental problems, as well as displace families and take the livelihood away from many others. As I continued to travel, I saw this phrase increasingly often – showing that it’s obvious a big point of contention.
After two hours, and seeing only two or three other cars, we arrived at our last stop, Puerto Guadal. As luck would have it, one of the other passengers ran the tiny town’s hospedaje and promised to make us a delicious dinner if me and Pierre stayed with her. Oh, no thanks, I think we’re going to try the Holiday Inn down by the boardwalk and afterwards get some chicken wings at the Hooters next to the Casino. But seriously, there was not too much happening in the town of Puerto Guadal. The main action, which had turned the heads of a few locals, was the typical street dog chasing a pickup – but in this episode it was barking at another dog, in the back. Soon other local dogs had joined in and dragged the poor mutt out of the truck and were all having a showdown in the central square. It looked ugly but soon got split up by some men with sticks. Entertainment over, we went inside. As Esmerelda showed us in our rooms I got the feeling that Pierre wanted to stay in my room. There was no one else in the place so I made sure to say:
The simple room was a floral print jubilee; I counted five different styles between the two bedspreads, curtains and patchwork of wallpaper. For what it lacked in style it made up for in coziness, with thick bedspreads and pillows so after a little walk to the quiet lake I decided to take a nap before dinner. When I went downstairs to join the group for dinner the entire family, a father and mother, two sisters, two brothers and a baby, had gathered around the table and was tucking in to a giant platter of grilled lamb.
“Aaah, bienvenido gringo!” The little brother playfully said as I joined them. I had a feeling that Pierre, who was sitting there grinning, had put him up to this. He had the stereotypical snobbery that people often assign to the French. Sometimes it’s just the accent, but sometimes, like with Pierre, it’s well placed:
“Everyone knows there really is no comparison to French wine.” He said, “However, perhaps Chile comes second place.” Even if true, the way he delivered it just sounded pretentious.
The lamb was tender, and even the baby got a piece to gnaw on, which everyone thought was hilarious. I offered everyone wine from a USD$4 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that I had bought – even the cheap wine down here was pretty damn good. We talked about dams, which everyone was against – but everyone still wanted more stable, cheaper electricity. Just for fun, I asked if they had Internet, and much to my surprise they had it at the library – additionally Esmerelda was excited to tell me that in April the tiny town was going to get high-speed mobile Internet. And so the disparate villages of earth get connected; whether by fiber, by copper or by airwave the net of information is seeking out all nooks and crannies of the planet.
After dinner Pierre showed us a slideshow from his trip to Antarctica using a DVD that the tour boat had given him. It turned out that they weren’t even his pictures, but still very cool and for a moment, although perhaps it was just the wine, I didn’t find him as annoying. After spending some time reading by the wood stove, I retired to my room alone which seemed to disappoint Pierre, and fell asleep in my floral cave.
The next morning I was woken up by the delightfully rural sound of chickens outside my window. The clouds had broken and the sun had brightly lit the back yard and surrounding lush hills. I went downstairs and entered the kitchen at the exact same time as a duck entered the door opposite from the yard.
“Aaah, Tomas el pato!” The father clapped, much to the joy of the little boy. The duck flip-flopped past the wood stove, to a bowl of grains that they’d laid out for the family’s favorite farm friend. Before leaving us the previous day, the moody bus driver, had told us he was continuing to head up the coast today and we could join him. Not knowing when the next ride would be coming through, I’d agreed to join him and so had Pierre. He promptly rang the bell at 8:30am and looked at his watch impatiently as we boarded.
The local buses also function as an easy way for locals to send items to other towns so on the way out of the village we picked up some boxes of various fruits and some dried goods. As the bus picked up a few more people here and there, I was happy to see how friendly everyone was. A young boy came onto the bus and sat down next to the same old man with a beret that had been on our bus yesterday – they didn’t seem related, but obviously knew each other. I always appreciate the friendliness of small towns, everyone knows their neighbors and says ‘hello’. Rural society is more transparent which means the incidence of sociopathic behavior decreases. Obscurity seems to breed sociopaths; any system, animal or otherwise, intrinsically acts for self if it can get away with it. True altruism is a rare occurrence as it’s not typically rooted in survival or genetic propagation, and certainly takes more effort than just saying ‘who cares?’. OK, I’m sure small towns can drive you crazy too, always being publicly accountable for all your actions, but somewhere between the intimacy of village life and the anonymity of a metropolis is a land of friendly existence. I began to wonder what it would be like if people had endorsement systems, sort of like the was you do on eBay, but in real life:
‘++AAA++ friend. Will hang out again!!’ or ‘Zero Stars! Poor boyfriend. Consistently inaccurate information given. Engage at your own risk!’
I’m not advocating a completely transparent system, of course it’s important to respect privacy, but there’s got to be a sweet spot where people can have the privacy they deserve while not being able to get away with being sociopathic assholes. Forms of this have already begun to happen – slowly – in many areas, from corporate greed to political agenda. Individuals and groups that would like to take advantage of the system are having a harder time doing it, thanks mainly to the transparency and communication that technology heralds. Chile, like any other country, has a political history rife with power plays and tactics for misleading the populous through deceit and manipulation. And then there’s the US’s involvement in Chilean politics, that aimed to bring down Allende’s pseudo-Socialist government in lieu of Pinochet’s rough dictatorship, that went undisclosed for 30 years. Some people might argue that the way to profitable peace has got to cost a little bloodshed, but ever the Utopian, I believe there’s got to be a cleaner path.
Apparently in this part of Northern Patagonia has an average of 1:1, people:km/sq and the roads are so curvy they’re called caracoles (snails). The next few hours of bumpiness, was broken up into iterations of scenic views and pee breaks until we reached the even more quaint and well named Puerto Rio Tranquilo. It has all the beginnings of a tourist town in the making; a great name, a fantastic view and even some local attractions like caves and rock formations, the prize being the ‘Catedral Marmol.’ or Marble Cathedral. When the road gets paved, this place will no doubt boom – and I felt privileged to see it before it does. It had started raining again but as we got off a few guides still approached:
“Do you want to go?” Pierre asked. Traveling alone is often the best way to travel. You move swiftly and don’t have to submit to decision my committee. Sometimes you even find people that you want to travel with for a while but then, you might decide to go separate ways. Occasionally for no reason other than comfort you pick up barnacles. You gotta know how to shake them. This was my chance:
“You know, I’m sort of still sick, I’m going to find a place to stay. Or going for a walk. Or I might go to one of those restaurants or cafes.” I made sure to offer a spread of my possible whereabouts. As I walked away, down the road, I waved: “See you later!”
I weaved through town and after the usual tactic of knocking on doors and asking for habatacion found a little, warm hospedaje. I still had this lingering cold so after throwing my bags in my room, stretched out in front of the little wood furnace for some cozy reading. I figured what better place than to start futurist Ray Kurzweil’s ‘The Singularity is Near’ than in front of a fire in a rural, disconnected town in the middle of nowhere. The book is close to 500 pages. I also have a few similarly sized Lonely Planet country guides and a slew of other books with me, all in the tiny little device known as a Kindle, weighing in at somewhere under a pound. The battery is good for a week or two or reading and if at any point I need to add a new title to my library, it’s equipped with a global GSM chip able to download a book in under a minute.
Later in the afternoon, it was still raining so decided to continue reading and writing from a little cafe along the main street. Nescafe has Chile by it’s smooth, tanned balls – so far every single cafe offers the rather nasty instant powder accompanied by hot water by default; I’ve only found a few places that offer a real drip or espresso coffee. This cafe doubled as a bakery and as is quickly becoming a problem for me, I couldn’t help but sample an empanada. Empanada’s in Chile are far larger and juicier than their Argentine siblings. I must have joked about the size of Chilean empanada’s for 5 minutes with the bakery owner and her three teenage daughters:
“Tu prefieres las empanadas mas grand, o mas chico?” And I had the cafe filled with girly giggles. “Con salsa picante?” They all liked big empanadas, but the mention of hot sauce had them fanning themselves. I was proud to be able to cause some smiles even with my crappy, psuedo-Italian Spanish.
I walked through and out of town where I had a face off with a curious cow but eventually returned for a homemade dinner of salad and steak with french fries and an egg, for the reasonable price of $4. The next morning it was still raining – not really hard, but hard enough that I found the pictures of the Marble Cathedral more than sufficient and luckily entered town just as a bus was pulling up. Any guess who else was also walking up to it?
“Hola Pierre, I must have lost you yesterday. How was the Marble Cathedral?” He told me how great it was, and how fun and awesome his hostel had been and that I should have joined him; I feigned deep remorse as we boarded the bus.
“Where are you going?” He asked.
“You know, I’m not sure yet,” Actually I was going north to Coyhaique, but I didn’t want to encourage him to join. “but I hear that Villa Castillo is GREAT!” Luckily there were only single seats left so I sat next to a skinny man who slept the whole time. At Villa Castillo we stopped and I asked Pierre:
“So what do you think? Are you going to stay?”
“I think I’ll go on to Coyhaique.” And my internal audience laughs and claps as the ‘applause’ sign is illuminated.
When we got off at Coyhaique things got awkward. I should have just walked away, but I just couldn’t bring myself to for some reason. Typically I dislike hurting people’s feelings, even though dragging it out often compounded the inevitable. So here’s how it went: It was raining, I walked out of the small bus station to find the cross streets and consult a Lonely Planet map. By this point Pierre had hung his bags around himself and caught up. We ended up walking in the direction of where a couple of hospedaje’s could supposedly be found. After finding one or two that said they were full, we found a nice old lady that showed us to a snug room for two.
“Separado.” I said. The senora said that was impossible because she only had one room left.
“I’d rather find my own room somewhere then – you can have this one.” I said. As I left the senora said she thought were were together and if it was just oner person, the room would be more expensive. Sheisse! Now I’ve got guilt going! If there’s two things I hate it’s unwarranted expectation and guilt trips.
“I’m going to head down the street.” Trying to figure out the best method out of this situation.
“OK, I’ll leave my bags here and join you, that way if you don’t find anything we can share a room.” Sweet baby Jesus, what the hell!?
He followed me around the block and finally I found a place that had singles for USD$18, USD$4 more than the other place.
“Well that’s more than I can afford.” He said, with his body language already trying to lead me back. I saw my chance. Again.
“You know, I’ve got some writing to do and I think that works just fine for me.” I had to stop walking, otherwise he’d keep moving. “So hey! I’m sure I’ll see you as we head north!”
The best USD$4 splurge ever.
Coyhaique is best described by Lonely Planet as ‘a cow town that kept growing’ and is now actually poised to become a big city of they agrarian industry, as well as a transportation hub. I know that sounds charming, but actually the town’s surroundings were beautiful, however it never stopped raining which made exploring the hills nearby a little muddy. I realized that I had left my super absorbent travel towel in Puerto Rio Tranquil but in searching for it found a poncho that I’d forgot I’d packed, which seemed like a pretty fair trade. I bought some dishtowels as a substitute, caught up on some emails and writing and got a grip of cash at an ATM. I travel with a few ATM and credit cards, distributed in different areas just in case I lose one or get robbed. And then whenever I need to I can dip this piece of special plastic into a wall and get out paper that lets me continue to live. Absolutely amazing! Talk about a technology not to be taken for granted? Some years back, still an amateur traveler I had entered Laos with about $20 in cash, not realizing that the nearest ATM was in the capital 1000km away. That took some creative problem solving to get out of.
I was tempted to explore the cities ‘Emo’ scene, in which a lot of darkly eye-lined and androgynous tweens meet in clubs and then go somewhere for ‘kissing parties’. Maybe a reaction to overly conservative Catholic upbringings? I decided to give the club scene a miss. Instead the highlight of Coyhaique was running into Gunther again, at the town’s center market, who was ravenously eating a juicy peach.
“Hey Gunther, you made it!”
“And so! A truck found me. It had two Chileans in the back. Very wet!” He’d managed to get some peach flesh onto his chin and I had a hard time looking anywhere else on his face. I told him about the club where the Emo’s would be in case he was interested and we parted ways.
The next day – yep still raining – I dreaded hitchhiking so decided I’d stop by the bus station and ask if there were any buses. The girl at one of the offices said there were no buses to Puyuhuapi that day. I asked her where the one out the front was going and she replied La Junta.
“Isn’t La Junta more north on the same road?” I managed to mangle together.
“Yes.” Still no connection.
“So maybe I could ask the bus driver to drop me in Puyuhuapi?”
“Maybe.” OK, thanks for the help there.
I got the last seat on the bus and couldn’t believe my luck – yet again! I sat behind a friendly señora who was making the entire bus laugh throughout the ride. As we headed north the surroundings became even more wet and tropical. This was when I read that this part of Chile gets an average of ~120ft of rain per year, so rather than a string of unlucky weather days as I had thought, this was just the norm. Craggy mountains rose suddenly around us, green outcrops clinging to their edges. Snowcapped peaks melted into slim waterfalls that poured off the rocks, sometimes right onto the road. Ferns and plants with huge leaves reached into the road like giant green fingers, relentlessly trying to claw it back into their possession. Condors were seen flying overhead while the driver avoided herds of cows on the road. I felt like a T-Rex was going to jump out at any moment and crush the tiny bus in it’s jaws. Reggaeton, the country’s favorite music, was blasting out of the radio. Occasionally we’d come across men in orange waterproof outfits, trying in vain to keep the road together as water poured from every crevice. Even when we hit a pothole and the back doors exploded open causing all our bags fell out into the mud, there was humorous camaraderie as we worked together to get them back inside, securing he doors handles inside to a handrail with a rope.
I used my iPhone to take turns trying to decipher the thick Chilean accents and listening to a pretty intense audiobook about the social structure and behavior of courtiers of the 1500s (trying to read on the Kindle surely would have led to me vomiting over the nice senora). I tried to imagine how utterly ridiculous our connected world of information and devices would have seemed to Cristopher Columbus or Sir Walter Raleigh; a white tablet that contains the text of a small library; a piece of plastic that can cause a wall to eject money; a pocket sized device that can translate languages, talk to me, record pictures and even communicate with others at great distances . And all that before blowing their Victorian minds with my netbook, a device capable of uniting them all and connecting to anyone else in the world invisibly. I certainly would have been proclaimed a sorcerer and been killed in a classically grisly way. Luckily however, things are a little bit more progressive these days, and the future we face, if indeed we can get there without destroying ourselves first, offers us an social existence based on ubiquitous communication and mutual growth, and most likely augmented by a layer of technology that helps achieve and maintain this.
The bus continued it’s bumpy sprint down the caracoles. I couldn’t help but feel lucky that I’d missed my boat and ended up in this cultural moshpit, happily moving with a crowd of strangers on a wave of the moment. I didn’t really know where I was getting off, I didn’t know where the next jarring bump was going to come from or indeed, what was going to happen next at all – but one thing suddenly became clear – I enjoyed the unexpected so decided not to head back to Argentina like I had planned, but instead to the the old, Chilean fishing island of Chiloe, home of tiny deer and mythical forest beings. Now that sounds like a good story