19 Oct The Return to South America
At 10:30pm on a Friday, after 34 hours in transit, I walked out of Ezeiza International airport and back onto Argentine soil. Home sweet home (whatever that means). Standing in the cold, passively watching the herd of people shuffle towards wherever it was they going, I felt a strange sensation almost like disconnect from my surroundings, it felt as if I had never left Buenos Aires, like the trip in Africa was something of a dream. I find it incredibly interesting that after a vacation when you return to familiar surroundings it can easily feel as if the trip flew by, like it never happened. You always hear people saying their vacation went by too quickly and they want to return, there wasn’t enough time, whatever. Standing out front of Ezeiza was the first time in a long time I had a similar sense. When on the road travelling we are always looking to fill our days with activities, things to check out, stuff to do, etc. All of these experiences tend to make the trip feel like it is passing by relatively slowly, yet when it is over you look back at it as if it flew by. There is an interesting contrast there which I wish to look into a bit more. But anyway at 10:30 on that Friday night I let the feeling pass and turned my brain towards getting to my friend’s house in BA, cracking a cold Quilmes, unpacking, and crashing out. Home sweet home (whatever that means).
I have been back now for exactly one week. I started working on the Sunday of my arrival and am grateful for that start date, as having spent my entire savings in Africa, I have no money. Scrap that, I do currently have about $200CAD in my bank account. Nice. Anyway, I am very excited to be back in South America. It feels great to be working again and I have already run into some familiar faces asking about my trip and what my plans are for the next few months. For those of you who don’t know. I work as a small group adventure tour leader in the southern cone region of South America. It is a pretty sweet job and I am stoked to be leading again. Like all other jobs being an adventure tour leader has its pros and cons, however, luckily for me the pros outweigh the cons. My first trip back is the Patagonia Dreaming tour and I am currently writing from plane seat 11D on Sky Airlines heading from Puerto Varas, Chile to Punta Arenas and the southern Chilean Patagonia. Check out the trip here:
The Patagonia Dreaming has been great so far and we still have 12 days to go with 100km of trekking on the schedule. Managing the logistics, organizing and participating in optional activities, and simply interacting with the 15 person group has kept me thoroughly occupied for the last 6 days and this is really the first time I have been able to fit in some writing for the SA blog. As I said in my last post I want to focus this platform on travelling (obviously) and more specifically my life as a tour leader in South America. Let me give you a quick idea of what that lifestyle entails.
My job allows me to be constantly on the road. I lead one trip after the other, after the other, and plan on doing so for at least the next 8 months. I have no home, no apartment, no bills, no debts, no stuff drawer in a kitchen, no responsibilities towards anyone other than myself. It is an interesting position to be in and can either make or break you. The average tour leader lasts for about 3-6 years (if they’re good) on the road with intermittent breaks here and there. We often sacrifice close relationships with friends, daily routines, material possessions, days of importance with loved ones (i.e. weddings, funerals, graduations, holidays, etc.), sick days, weekends, whatever. Truly the biggest sacrifice of this lifestyle is being unable to sustain any sort of long term relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Yet, as I said earlier, the pros should always outweigh the cons, and right now I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything. As a tour leader I literally get paid to travel the world. Let me give a few quick examples of the pros.
I often forget what day of the week it is, I don’t do my own laundry (ever), I eat almost entirely at really good restaurants and sample amazing foods, I get the chance to see and photograph breathtaking landscapes, I am always surrounded by like minded people and I can talk as much as I like about sustainable tourism and the future of tourism, I get to see penguins in the wild, I never watch TV, I meet and interact with people from all over the world and have made friends on every continent (except for Antarctica), I have become bilingual and am learning a third language, I am generally stoked on life and drink great bees from many different distilleries. The list goes on and on, and I often have to remind myself of how lucky I am to have this job and to be gaining these international experiences.
So anyway, again I am going to use From Shwa to Ushuaia (this blog) to highlight my life on the road in South America and the experiences along the way. So if you are keen to keep in contact, follow this blog.
Jumping right back into the game, my plane is about to land and I have to wrap this up. Travelling is an education within itself. The trick is to have an open mind and make no assumptions or have any serious expectations of where it is you are visiting. Keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Our world is filled with beauty and together we can sustain a wonderful future for our children. It seems the human race is falling on a slippery slope, yet I believe we need only to change our mentalities and focus on a brighter future for our communal home. Travel is the perfect stage for cross cultural integration and communication. Travel is the perfect stimulant for creation and thinking outside of the box (if you will), I know some people who don’t even believe a box exists. Through travel we can have a seriously strong impact on others and can educate ourselves towards working together and creating a better future. The time is now. Plan a trip, go somewhere this year, meet some new people, see something you always wanted to see, go, you won’t regret it.
That’s about that for now. I’ll leave you with a shot taken two days ago in Bariloche, Argentina. Peace.