Posted by: Hours Per Mile | March 12, 2010

Chapter 1 – Ushuaia, Argentina

December 13, 2006

Rain drops perform their dodging down the large airport window, blurring the view into a traveler’s dream. Airplanes loom large and inviting at the end of the ramp, their wingtip lights glowing red and giving life to the bloodlike rain. The hum of the airport pre dawn, before the Sun climbs out of bed, instills in me the anticipation of travel—the woman’s voice blasting over the loudspeaker announcing some departing flight in Spanish, the shaking out of early morning newspapers proclaiming headlines from Buenos Aires, the wafting smell of coffee. I am ready, not ready for home, but ready for the process of getting there.

My backpack bulges full to the zippers. I have packed the essentials for my life to retain a vestige of normalcy as we venture out into the world, away from our comforts and clutter. A tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, clothes for shivering high up in the Andes the first part of the trip, more skimpy clothes for swatting at mosquitoes and donning suntan lotion on the latter end…the list continues, a pillow, portable speakers, medicine, and a towel, it all gets heavy quick. I feel like I am carrying around the dead body of a large man on my back, and I suddenly, and fearfully, wonder what in the world have I gotten myself into?

Graham and Gordo left Buenos Aires two days ago for Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of land of South America. My best friend, Emma, and I are anxious to join them. We all went to the University of Georgia together, though the boys I only knew in passing, but, clinging to each other in Argentina was like steroids for the bonds we quickly formed, becoming fast friends in mere weeks. Yet, there is much more to learn, as traveling exposes all the little goblins and cherubs of a person’s personality that tend to hide in the shady nooks of everyday life. What I do know, which is helpful, is that none of us like to plan anything, take what comes kind of people and monopolize any and every situation type folks.

Finally, it is our turn to walk the plank and board the plane, my insides getting jittery with the knowledge that it is official; this is Day One of many more to come. I hope this is the last airplane enlisted as we slowly, meticulously, explore our way through South America, Central America, and Mexico.

Jittering turns to pounding with excitement of discovering and experiencing novelty. New thoughts. New habits. Perspectives. But what will I do with them? The sights and smells and sounds will be shared by us but the rest of the world will only read poor representations. How do I capture the world around me, as I see it, and give it back? I want to share these charged emotions paired with a shiny runway, I want rainy drops of blood weaving a curtain upon the wet airplane window painted before eyes just as I see it.

Flying never gets old. Forehead glued to the glass for a glimpse of God’s view, eye level with the clouds, in them then burst! And here we are on the underbelly of the Earth. It looks wild. I see one squiggly road hugging the rugged coast. Who uses it? Maybe us.

While enduring the wait for the conveyor belt to spit out our coffin sized backpacks, we got a text message from Gordo saying they found a campsite and to bring them some sausage, cheese and water. A second one came moments later saying “Take taxi from Ushuaia to water tower and walk into the woods” to meet them. That pretty much set the stage for the nature of our trip—which water tower, where in the woods?? Some may call it reckless, that’s just how it was.

Obviously there is only one water tower in Ushuaia because our taxi driver gave us a knowing nod of affirmation and off we went. The town slipped by, its outskirts traded in for a desolate road, the road coming to an abrupt dead end at the base of a rusty, dilapidated water tower. Doubtful yet excited, we stood watching the tail lights as our only backup plan sped away, kicking up dust amongst the gravel. To our right was the Beagle Channel, a glistening and panoramic display of ocean, to our left the dark woods. Packs weighing heavy on our backs, bags of groceries pinching fingers, rain clouds rolling in off the water, Emma looked at me, shrugged, and said, “Here it goes,” and we dove into the woods.

After a while we came upon a steep hill falling towards the ocean and at the bottom sat Graham and Gordo hunched over the most inviting campfire in the world. Oh joyous reunion! “Hey, fancy finding y’all here,” things like that…laughs, hugs, looks of expectancy and adventure passed all around. They proudly showed us our new home for the next few days—the hill flattened out into a moss-covered ledge edging all the way to a drop off with grey, rippling ocean far below. Guindo tree branches, with the aid of time, wove together into a canopy protecting us from a steady drizzle of frigid, Ushuaian rain. The cold had ushered itself in and we hunkered down around the fire eating salami, cheese, green apple and honey sandwiches.


  1. WOW!!
    I would never have had the nerve to do this!
    Can’t wait to read more…

  2. You rock, keep writing!

  3. dyyyying with excitement for the next chapter. oh lord this is good.

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