Monday, 28 January 2013

riesgos y la paciencia...

having been infected by the travel bug from my first flight to vancouver at 6-months of age, there are many reasons why i don't seek medication for this lifelong affliction. in each adventure, i have the blessed opportunity to see new sights, encounter unknown cultures, enhance my skills at or learn a new language, sample untasted foods, and explore exiting libations. 2/3 my way through this south american journey, however, i have come to understand a more primal motivation for my travels: los riesgos y la paciencia. in other words, i've uncovered the thrill of taking risks (riesgos) and the benefits from patience (paciencia).

as you may have read in previous entries, my journey since leaving Curico last week has not been an Argentine side road - bumpy to say the least. my third time in chile and argentina, staying in santiago and here in mendoza is comfortable. far from being a local, i can still navigate my way through bus terminals, side streets, and restaurants with relative ease. leaving this relative comfort zone, however, has proven a huge challenge. what more, i'm not the late-20s backpacker as i was during my first trip when youth was on my side to deal with challenges that may arise.

a summary of the challenges since leaving Curico include fully-booked buses that have delayed my journey, holed-up in Temuco with a bout of the "revenge of the mapuche," visa-trouble at a remote mountain border crossing, missed winery appointments, no vacancy hostels and above all, fatigue. faced with the stresses of recent days, upon my arrival to neuquen i began to doubt weather the jaunt south was worth the trouble. clearly, someone was looking over my left shoulder and telling me this was a bad idea and to just head bag to the relative comfort of santiago. dragging a 24kg suitcase 10 blocks along uneven sidewalks in the heat of the afternoon sun certainly gave voice to this angel.

but then i looked to the angel on my right shoulder who told me to be patient; things will work out if you just hold on for a little more. the light at the end of my tunnel was the De Paseo Hostel. just slightly above my price range, spotless rooms, comfortable bed, friendly staff, and free wi-fi (which, fyi, exists everywhere here in south america; a lesson the "developped" world could learn) were an oasis in my desert. throwing fiscal caution to the wind, a private tour the next day brought me to south america's largest dinasaur dig and to the familia schroeder winery; arguably one of the best tour days i have ever spent (what can go wrong with dinosaurs and wine in one day?!).

this spectacular day shed new light on the recent week of woes. had i not headed south, i would not have come to know a little about the Mapuche culture (they held of Spaniards and Incas for centuries). Although sick, the extra day in Temuco turned out to provide me with the needed rest and time to work. Crossing the Andes, i got to see groves of Araucana, or "monkey-puzzle trees;" something i have longed to see since i was a child. yes, the visa issue was VERY stressful, but i have an interesting story to tell - and am covered for a return visit to argentina in the next 5 years. finally in mendoza, i honoured my long-delayed appointment to Familia Cassone (; an extraordinary day visiting their winery, sampling their obra prima line, and having a long parrillada lunch.

none of these experiences would have happened had i caved at the first sign of trouble and head back to a relative comfort zone. in short, a lifelong lesson in the rewards of taking risks and baring patience to see it through to the end; a parallel to leaving one's stable job to take on a failed opportunity, only to be rewarded with everything i wanted in a job in the end. but that's another story...

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