Never did I think that a 20-hour bus ride could be so enjoyable. I'm staring out of a moving picture window in my front row seat on the upper deck of a double decker luxury coach. There are guanacos (similar to llama or alpaca) and jackrabbits and rheas (similar to ostrich or emu) darting across the road as we wind our way east and west and south toward the epic peaks of Cerros Torre and Fitz Roy. Next to me sits a young beach blonde couple from San Diego and several rows behind me is my new German friend whose extraversion is being severely tested as my introversion celebrates.
I'm in Big Sky Patagonia, a landscape that feels like eastern Montana but with guanacos and rheas instead of pronghorn and goshawks. The guanacos leap easily over the fences that must be meant for only the sheep. I assume they are free-range and are owned by some rancher who gathers them regularly for shearing, but I hope they are more like the antelope of Paradise Valley near Yellowstone National Park and are free to live their own lives. The sky is so big that last night I was looking down on the clouds at the horizon from my elevated perch in the bus.
The tangerine dawn rustled me awake at 4:40am after a short night that allowed me just enough sleep to enjoy today's views. I put Morphine's album Cure For Pain on my headphones because the first song is "Dawna" and this is a gorgeous dawn. I'd forgotten that on the third track Morphine would sing to me "I'm free now / free to look out the window / free to live my story / free to sing along". I listened again and again on repeat as I wept with pride and joy and a love of life.
The road is dirt for a stretch, now gravel. It used to be paved back when it was closer to where I came from. It is always thin and lonely, like the shy girl in the back of class who doesn't talk much, but when she does it is clear she is smarter than you.
This part of the world has always fascinated me. But, like the Himalaya, it always seemed so far away and so remote. I'm now in El Chalten, a cute access town just an easy day hike from legendary Fitz Roy. It's awesome. I'm in love.