In Patagonia, Laura and I each kept a diary. Instead of just documenting the events of the day, we took the opportunity to write a brief reflection/pondering around an idea that the journey had sparked.
We wrote a couple of entries before we departed for which the brief was to write 200 words on the broad topic of what the trip meant to us.
Here is mine:
“This trip to South America has been a pipe dream of Laura’s and mine for sometime.
There had always been a possibility of Laura getting extended leave from work (four weeks) but we waited so long – or at least that’s how it felt – that I thought it might never happen.
Equally, the idea of going all the way to South America seemed a bit, well, far reaching. I never thought we would actually do it. So, when approval for Laura’s holiday finally came through, I was desperate to book flights so that no one could take it away from us.
On our list of ‘Things to do before we die’, right below ‘Visit Antarctica’, was ‘Walk across a country’. Again, like flying to South America and taking a month off work, in my head, this was very much ‘Something we’d do one day’ rather than anything I thought we would actually be doing any time soon.
Yet, in less than one month from now, that is exactly what we will be doing: going away for four weeks, travelling to Patagonia and walking across a country. Well, a continent in fact, although it’s pretty narrow down there.”
“This trip is an escape from work, an adventure, an opportunity, an objective, an ambition. A restlessness, a deep quandary about what to do with this life, a dissatisfaction, a need for wildness and open space all come together in this one walk across a continent. Studying maps and trawling the internet for advice stoke the fires of excitement until Patagonia is a watermark underlying every waking moment. Fear clenches my belly, with thoughts of running out of food, tent poles breaking, physical trauma and emotional troughs never far away.
Will we make it? I have no doubt. Will we enjoy it? Maybe retrospectively. Will it answer our questions about what we should do, where we should go, who we should be? There is a lot riding on Patagonia and it feels much more than just a holiday, or even an expedition. It is an experiment, a test of our mettle, and for me, a test of whether I want this life of uncertainty and wandering, leaving the City and its stifling stability behind in search of a different future. Instead of envying other people’s lives, I want to know if I can make the leap into their shoes.”