Less pollo more gringo: a man and his van

A small cool bead drew quickly together at the base of my hairline. A bit thinner than it used to be, the bead slid easily through my hair across the curve of my head to my temple. Slowly, I came to with a sweaty roll into cold damp sheets. Why was it so hot and where was I? With a startle I sat straight up. Was it a work day? Was I in a hotel room? At my parent’s house in Chicago? In New York? In South America? The story of the previous three years could be written from that fleeting moment. Rapidly exploding thoughts reached the rolling green mountain tops surrounding the Hudson Valley before settling back to the river at the valley floor. All that remained was a consistent droning of the ceiling fan. I was safe in my van and it was Saturday. A few hours remained until sunrise and the day’s adventure. I slowly drifted back to sleep.It has been two years since I last posted. From the corners of the US, to Europe to the islands of Indonesia I have not stopped traveling (except for a f…

The Towers of Patagonia: Torres del Paine

“Que mierda (shit)” the driver said in Spanish. The car sputtered and I jerked forward in the seat. Those words, and the feeling growing in my gut, were ones I hoped to avoid. The car sputtered again. “We are out of gas” he said. My mind immediately went to my water and food supply. We could stay in my tent until someone passed to give us a hand worst case scenario. A smile crept across his face and he laughed. He flipped a switch to the right of the steering wheel and hit the accelerator. “I have a big extra gas tank. I’m just joking!” It was an average afternoon hitchhiking the barren landscape of Southern Patagonia.
Green eyes greeted me at the hostel. I responded with a smile and took particular interest in the Italian woman. She was travelling with two friends from Greece and Switzerland she met during her travels. We bonded over life on the road while the wine began to pour like the conversation, smoothly. Puerto Natales wasn’t my favorite town, but meeting the right people made …

An Adventure on the Bottom of the World

I was about to begin my first major hike through Patagonia: the Sierra Valdivieso Circuit. Without a hiking partner, I decided to register with the Argentine Civil Defense Force. The warnings and recommendations from the officers were digested, but there was a good weather window. I knew I had to take the opportunity. Prepared for a difficult hike in the mountain range north of Ushuaia, what was another few miles walking to the trailhead? The eight miles to the trail were as good as walking along a road could be. Whether in Ushuaia, on a road, or on a mountain, spectacular scenery was abundant. After sevenish miles, and before entering the mountains, I stopped for lunch. Lunch consisted of a can of tuna, cereal bar, and a spoonful of Nutella. Seated on a cliff overlooking a beaver dam on the Olivia River, a quick roadside lunch took on a new meaning. An interesting invasive species, Canadian beavers were introduced by fur traders to the area and have since wreaked havoc on the forests…