I’m headed back to Bariloche, in the midst of a traveling blitz that included a hike from the refugio to the trailhead – hitchhike to Cochamo town – amazing sleep at the Ferretería de Gladys – bus to Puerto Montt – and now a bus to Bariloche and copious amounts of strawberries and grapes for my fresh food parched soul. A day in Bariloche and I’ll be resupplied and ready to head up to Frey with none other than Brette and Marc Andre, friends from Squamish! I’m really psyched for some ladies missions with Brette the super crusher, and it will be nice to see some faces from home.
As the bus passes through the countryside of Chile and I reflect on my time so far, I feel so incredibly thankful. Cochamo was incredible. I am well, and have felt so connected to people and places thus far. I feel absolutely amazed by and thankful for my ability to climb and use this activity as a way to see the world. And it is just that: a medium. I have travelled before, mostly in Europe. My Lonely Planet guide was an extension of my arm; I did the popular hikes in a given place, saw the sites, ate the recommended food, and then took a bus/train to the next town to do the same. I don’t at all want to poo-poo or diminish the value of this form of seeing the world, but I myself find it super lacking, and my experience with it turned me off of traveling for years. Thus, it’s been absolutely incredible this time around to approach traveling from a different perspective and with different goals. I have gotten so much out of it.
Take Cochamo for instance. I show up to this beautiful place and automatically have a community, projects, and common goals with others. I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the valleys and walls to a fuller extent than I could as a tourist, learning the weather patterns, the path of the sun, the intricacies of the cliffs. I have a reason to stay for weeks or months instead of the customary few nights; I can’t help but gain an intimate knowledge of the place. And the same goes for other climbers, the Austrians and Mexicans and Chileans and North Americans that I met in Cochamo: we are indeed a tribe.
More than getting to know the place well, I was gifted the opportunity to participate in an intimate Argentine community and learn the subtleties of their beautiful culture. I learned to take life slower and easier, that there’s no reason to not be tranquilo or joyful. I learned that if I’m eating around others it’s only right to pass my food and share it with everyone. I learned not to say “thank you” when given mate, unless I don’t want any more. I learned that every morning and night, besoes and a greeting/farewell are given to everyone in the room. These people are so connected to each other. In a multi-generational community with blurred lines between what is “mine” and “yours,” I learned about generosity and kindness and also a heck of a lot of Spanish. Their language was mine and they were all the best professors one could ask for.
I am thankful to have a medium. It could be anything: flyfishing, biking, business, volunteering, whatever. But for me, for now, it is climbing, and what an amazing way this is to really see a place. To engage, and participate, instead of just watching. Besides, just watching makes me fall asleep, as those of you who have watched movies with me know. 😉
Okay, nos vemos! Check out my photos on the left for more details and stories from Cochamo!