What is there to be discovered in days of leisure in Patagonia Remota?

Thousands of red and yellow shades illumine the native forest in autumn. A guanaco's coat glitters in the evening sun. A hand, or some mysterious lines painted on the rock of a cave, or the tidy stacks of stones or trunks in vast scenery, signify life.

The painted bodies of the Onas in their initiation rite, where the idea of Cuerpos Pintados originated, recall the end feathers in the wing of the condor, that allow it unparalleled gliding. The multicoloured tin in the «puestos», home of solitary shepherds and farmers, and painted tin homes in Puerto Natales, that brings beauty to human life in any remote place. The winding line of endless roads, of fences that disappear in the fields, the deep eye of the puma, or the painted eye, for the celebration of the Yamana, and the canoe in which they sailed, carved from a trunk, the guanaco’s hide, that was home and dress for the Ona. The photo of Father D’Agostini on a prominent summit, the blue color of the ice of glaciers, the light-emerald colour of Lake Pehoe darker hued Lake Nordenskhold, and the stone-blue of Laguna Amarga, Lenga trees, pruned or bent by the wind, And bonsai forests in the Quebrada de la Feria or in the Antonio Varas peninsula. The dry skull of a cow nailed somewhere, a shepherd, his horse, his implements and his dogs, and their small homes lined up one beside the other  close to the sheep-farm houses. The corrals, the farmyards, the great barns of Puerto Bories covered in separated wooden bars so that the wind may get in and dry the hides. Fishermen’s boats sheltered in Puerto Natales, wild geese in double-colour pairs, the rough and windy seas of the most famous strait that Magellan discovered in 1592, and Cape Horn, the end-of-the-world island. Shackleton’s Endurance, an ancient ship crossing it on sail, be set by the pack ice near Antarctica. A photograph of the Yelcho expedition, going to rescue his men in Elephant Island, in the powerful Drake’s Sea. Photos of the last Onas in Yendegaia, Beagle channel, and then in Hacienda Haberton, in Ushuaia. The voyage of the Beagle, in command of captain Fitzroy to draft the first navigation charts of the south of America; naturalist Charles Darwin who traded three young Yamana men  for a button, a basket and a bit more, to take them back to England and prove he could educate them because they were human beings too, (still a matter of controversy in Europe at the time) and introduced them to King George. The immensity of the feeling of immensity, which allows only a glimpse, of what true immensity may be, of which we know nothing else. The loneliness of the vast landscape,  is perhaps what seduces the wanderer’s soul and the nomadic spirit of the shepherds who used to venture across Patagonia to do sporadic work in sheep-farms, where they always found room and board, but never stayed long, to avoid compromise. The wandering soul, and roaming spirit, of the shepherd, or sheepshearers, covered almost without stopping the «estancias» of Patagonia, that always has rooms available to accommodate them. Today the traveller who finds this in Remota; the tradition and heritage of that hospitality that originated in rade, that in such remote place becomes friendly, or, why not, even generous and reaches further to be, truly, hospitality.
Following in the tradition of Portuguese seamen who sailed in stealth: the most important here is left undone, it is shown and it is discovered, or not, because these sites are already more than discovered- Torres del Paine, Cuernos del Paine in front of Lake Pehoe, or Grey’s glacier. Everybody reaches with fresh eyes to discover a place anew, otherwise no one would ever visit Machu Pichu, possibly the most photographed travelling destination in the world… Maybe, because we only get to know that which puts up resistance, the place that was difficult to get to, seems somehow more fully deserved.
Thus, perhaps, the myth of Patagonia, the myth of the remote, of that place where we feel that the journey has been accomplished  and we are delicately returned, to what is ours, to our own garden-  not like the tennis ball bouncing off the wall, but rather, like the swimmer who dives into the pool, and gets in the water, which gently returns him to the surface.
November 2006

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