Posted by: Hours Per Mile | March 26, 2010

Chapter 1 — Ushuaia to El Calafate

The main source of travel on this trip will be buses. Anything but airplanes – those were against the ‘pact.’ My pen jumps up and down upon the page as I fight the steady bouncing of our first bus among many more to come. Looking around I see jiggling, limp bodies lifeless with sleep, their mouths gaping, heads cast at angles they’ll regret later. We cruise by the ocean a stone’s throw away, endless, cold and uninviting. When I’m not writing, I’m staring out the window, thinking. Occasionally, my thoughts wander, being rudely interrupted by the woes of bus life. There is an angry assault warring upon our noses—Emma thinks someone keeps opening at random the lid off a bowl of sour curry. Something appears to be rotting right behind us.

We almost missed this bus. A missed bus translates into three more days in Ushuaia and three more days of no showers, salami sandwiches and, blast, the beautiful scenery. I felt like a compass needle and North, as usual, had the magnet. Stuck there, so helpless, at five in the morning with no ride to the bus station compelled me to wonder at the worth of our camping experiment in the boonies. Emma ran down the mountain to flag down a taxi as the rest of us sat like forlorn children with no mother. The lesson has been learned not to make slipshod plans with a driver for so early in the morning. I know he was sound asleep, not even dreaming about the four travelers he forgot to pick up.

But never mind him, God must have been driving that taxi flying over the hill, hurling along the dusty road with Emma beaming in the front seat, our little savior. Turns out we indeed missed the bus. “We can catch it!” our amused driver promised. Just like in the movies, a chase scene, the soundtrack going off in my head, we curled around the winding road, passing everybody else who wasn’t in such a rush, slowly gaining hopeful ground upon the bumbling bus. A sweet sense of adventure with an opportune outcome pervaded the car as we giggled and shouted when the bus came into view. Oh sweet, sweet adventure! There we stood on the side of the road waving down the blasted thing, smiling, dirty, tired, eyes and hearts pointed NORTH! Home, a long way away.

Reality checks my euphoria of travel. The evil smell pours up my nostrils in waves. Compound the body odor that is the second worst I’ve ever smelled sitting right behind me with open faced tuna sandwiches all boiling in the stale, warm, back of the bus. Nowhere to go, there is no escaping.

No escaping even myself, my thoughts turning to buttermilk with all their churning. I need to reconcile my being in this world and being of the world. How do I fine tune a conscience which walks the line of enjoying everything the world has to offer yet not becoming part of the mainstream? I am a human living in a world created for me, but I am called by my Creator to separate myself from the world. “Do not love the world or anything in the world…” 1 John 2:15 confuses me. My problem is I do love the world. In it do I find such joy, such awe, such adventure—why else do I have the bug of travel? The pervasive sin, yes in my own life, is the world I am called to hate. So what about the perfect cold beer on a summer night? No, I love that.

People question what it’s all about, they spend lifetimes devoted to finding their mantra, their buzzwords. I know in my head the answer, the secret to all the angst and confusion and complacency…but I want my heart aligned with what I know. To know with no proof is not knowing at all, merely assuming. Proof is to be found in my heart, faith the knowledge that I need. What is it with humans that we keep wanting more…God, give me more! More of yourself, more of your joy, peace, blessings. Give me more adventure, more laughter, more good old fashioned fun. Just keep me pure from the stain of this world. My goal of this trip is not to become more worldly, but more Godly. So, what am I to do with the rotting underarm pits behind me? They are a friendly reminder of how stinking this world can be I guess. I’m thankful for them.


  1. I again Thank You for the vivid details and for the precious photo that I would otherwise never have seen.

    I continue to axiously want more! Bravo!

    Zach’s Mom

  2. I love it. I love when u say it’s the “second worst” body Odor you’ve ever smelled! Made me stop and wonder about who was the first. Haha.

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