Today we continue with Part II of our blog post on Diana's journey through Argentina. During the first part of her Patagonian journey, Diana learned to be free, to overcome her fear of water and even more important, to enjoy silence.
Don’t miss Part I of this very personal journey!
By the time I got on the bus to Río Gallegos, I already felt better about myself and was ready to keep going south, so I did not mind too much about being the only person traveling alone in a bus full of couples and groups of friends.
The best part of traveling alone is that people come and talk to you; they want to help and show you things. That’s why it didn’t surprise me when the driver woke me up in the middle of the night, telling me “Miss, look out the window, hurry!” Half asleep, I opened the curtain and saw the most amazing sky, filled with millions of stars.
The sky in Caleta Olivia (a small oil town, 707 Kilometers away from Río Gallegos) was as bright as daylight, and I was the lucky lone-traveler who saw it, while the rest of the passengers were sleeping.
About seven hours later, we finally arrived to Río Gallegos, only to find out the next bus to El Calafate would leave a few hours later. So, there I was at the bus station with no TV, no wi-fi, no restaurant… I had to go for a walk around this town of under 100,000 people, who are really serious about naps and never go out between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.
I couldn’t find a living soul within eight blocks and when I turned around a corner I whistled as loud as a girl can, looking for some sound in response, but nothing, not even a dog barking. I sat on a garden and for the first time I understood what being “lonely” was, and it had nothing to do with traveling solo, or being single, but with the need to strengthen my relationship with myself. And by the time I arrived to El Calafate – about 7 hours later – I was determined to never feel that way again.
Some guy offered to help with my bags and told me there was a hostel near the bus station, so I walked with him – I know, it’s crazy to trust a stranger, but I did – to this beautiful house with the most perfect view to a lake. Both the lake and the hostel were named Lago Argentino.
I left the baggage in my room and went for a walk around El Calafate, a town that has the cutest downtown in all Argentina, a 10-block street filled with shops, restaurants, tour operators and tourists! The first and most important place to find was Hielo y Aventura’s offices, the only authorized company to offer visits to Los Glaciares National Park, home of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
Years before this trip, I met a Venezuelan climber from Proyecto Cumbre who told me, “Everybody has their own personal Everest to climb”. Mine was to go as far from home as I could and there I was, 9,573 kms away from Caracas and standing in front of one of the most wonderful places on Earth: Perito Moreno Glacier. Watching the ice break from the viewing platforms is exciting, most of the time you see huge pieces of ice fall in the water and then you hear the sound of it – like the sound of thunder. While waiting for this to happen, I got to hear shouts of surprise, joy and even fear in, at least, six different languages and they were all doing what I did: taking as many pictures as possible, just to get a couple of good shots of the breakings.
After lunch, we took the boat that would leave us at the base of the glacier, to start trekking up the ice. Millions of ice cubes under my feet, cold breeze in my face and a 90-minute walk that felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life.
Nobody thought I would get there, especially me, but there I was, stepping on color-changing ice: from white to blue, from silver to green…and every few minutes, a tiny river under the ice making a sound as sweet as ice cubes in a whisky glass, just like the one I got at the end of the walk, as a celebration!
It only took 29 years for me to realize I can do anything I dream of, even if it seems impossible, crazy, too hard or too complicated. It actually is as simple as saying “I want this” and the universe starts moving its strings to help you, but it all depends on you and how much you believe in that choice you make.
I conquered my own personal Everest and happy as I was, I knew it was not over. There was one final place to visit before I could say I had been to the End of the World, and I was only 11 hours away from it.
But that’s another story for another post.