January 26, 2019 – Chaitén, Chile

I feel like I’m Robinson Crusoe. I’m sitting on a deserted beach in the evening sun somewhere on the coast of Southern Chile (did you know that the island that the Crusoe story is based on lies off the coast of Chile?). I have the odd feeling that I’m putting this message in a bottle and casting it into this great green scintillating sea and sending it to you. But that is just how this enormous, awe inspiring place known as Patagonia will make you feel, like everything and everyone is so far away. It will draw loneliness out from the deepest part of you. Snow clad volcanoes and glacier laden mountains will surround you but in your valley by the sea it never snows. Lush vegetation grows everywhere except where meadows have been cleared for home or pasture, rustic homes that you can tell were made directly from the land. And from these homes there is always a sweet scented genie of smoke curling from the chimney, and a wood burning cook stove beneath it in a warm, cozy kitchen, and biscuits fresh from the oven that lay cooling next to a jar of honey, if you are lucky. The two lane highway that curves through the valley around the giant mountains is fairly quiet because you are headed to the ends of the earth. You will occasionally see a hitchhiker or three, sometimes college girls, wearing huge backpacks, thumbing a ride, and hear laughter that comes with this freedom dance in the breeze, making even the birds sing with everything they have. You will see a special glimmer in the eyes of both the native and the traveler here, a knowing of what unbelievable beauty this land is capable of. By evenings falling into night you will drift into sleep ready to leap into the next day. And you will try to describe this, to tell it in words and place them in a bottle and seal it and cast it into the sea, to be found by the next explorer, ready to tread new ground…

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