Saturday, December 22, 2018
On Friday morning, Alex and I left Jason with a day on his own in Santiago, during which he got caught up in some protests (we'd been reading there about unrest surrounding the murder of a Mapuche man). I was equal parts ready and not ready to go. I was ready to quit living out of a backpack, as wonderful as my backpack was. I was ready to cook for myself (although I was ready for a break when I left for the trip). I wasn't ready to leave the beauty, or the feeling of being in South America.
Our long-haul back (Santiago to Toronto) was glorious. We were able to choose exit-row seats for free, and there was no one in the middle seat between us. A far cry from the flight to Buenos Aires that had me scrunched and furious, this was the best-case coach scenario. I drank wine, watched five movies over ten hours, and hardly thought 'are we there yet.'
I came home very late to a rainy weekend (after three weeks of nearly perfect, albeit occasionally windy weather). I processed my more than 3,000 photos--most from the camera, some from the phone, which was handy especially when my camera battery crapped out near Fitz Roy (I thought I had a spare but it didn't charge) and I my memory card filled up on the first leg of the W (I went through and deleted accidental videos, which freed up plenty of space). I never did use the travel tripod I bought for the trip (I would have had it been dark and clear enough for stars), but I sure did use the shoulder strap. It was very handy to not carry the camera or use up a pocket for it.
It was a rough week at work; my head was still in South America. But I also maintained my post-vacation chill.
I want to go back. To see Bariloche and Chiloe and the lakes. I want glaciers and turquoise lakes and I want them everywhere.
Some disjointed thoughts:
I expected this trip to be a food nightmare, but it wasn't; I was able to have a lot of good vegan food, although I had to eat the occasional non-vegan pizza. The food I had was overwhelmingly wonderful. It's the inverse of last year's winter vacation: I had high hopes for Malaysia, but most of food was disappointing.
Also unlike Malaysia, we were actually able to get away from Xmas decorations and music (they ticked up a bit in Santiago but weren't overwhelming).
The days were very long, which I loved (even though I was ready for it to get dark already!), and although it wasn't freezing cold, it was cool enough that I felt like I was coming back to winter from a tropical paradise.
Costs: Chile's not cheap, and Argentinian Patagonia isn't either. Both countries also charge a lot for ATM fees ($10 is standard in Argentina, $5 in Chile), and make it difficult for you to use a local SIM.
Gear and supplies: Apart from a few long-sleeved shirts, I used pretty much everything I'd brought. I didn't use the headlamp, but it wasn't a mistake to bring it just in case. In addition to the pack, sleeping bag, trekking poles, and hiking boots, I had a knee brace, ankle wrap, nyquil, sunblock, and a hat. I still got mildly burned (hole in the ozone layer) but without the sunblock and hat I would've been tomato-red. What else: hand sanitizer, toilet paper/tissues/wipes, bubble wrap to secure wine, ziploc and other plastic bags to keep things dry, including a trash bag to line the backpack, a meshy bag to hold the various charges (this was awesome: instead of constantly checking for each charger, I always made sure to return them to the one bag after using them), adapters, and lots of granola bars. New Yorkers, Atlantics, and crosswords. Noise-cancelling headphones, of course. Raingear.
A closing thought: it was awesome. I tried to temper my expectations, but there was no need. Patagonia is breathtaking.