In Patagonia

Argentina 2007

For five weeks I’ll be missing from Edinburgh. Instead, you’ll find me in Argentina, heading south with a skip in my step

A beautiful Patagonian landscape: grasslands in the foreground; mountains in the background

Patagonia. Here’s to the grasslands, to the plains, to the distance. Courtesy Mono Andes

Where would you choose to be, if you could? I would wish to be in Patagonia, in South America, with little more than the bag on my back.

Happily, in little over two weeks, this will be true. I will be in, as Bruce Chatwin put it, ‘the farthest place to which man walked from his origins’.

Patagonia is a place I have dreamt of for some time; it is a place so distant, so fascinating, that I have always hoped to travel there. I have yearned to see the brooding might of the glaciers. I have wanted to peer into a dark room and steal away a memory from a Welsh settlement. I have craved grasslands so vast I could run for hours and see no change. I long for a sky so encompassing I can think of nothing else. I ache for its freedom.

I was in Argentina two years ago; I didn’t reach Patagonia. But that trip so satisfied me I promised myself I would go back. Soon. And that next time I would make it to Patagonia.

I didn’t. Instead, I did what a lot of people do: I relaxed into that comfortable Western life of job, hobbies, and drink. After a while I forgot to go back. I forgot.

Fortunately, Opportunity passed by. My friend, Nadia, decided to leave her job and travel to Argentina. Anyone who wanted, she said, could come along. I jumped at the chance. Nadia is over there now, enjoying the fading heat of summer. I will meet her in Mendoza and then we’ll travel south.

And that’s the extent of our plan. South, south, until we meet Magellan’s Patagão. When we see them, I’ll let you know.