In Patagonia we went on walks through mind-bending vistas, dressed with a level of detail where you could quite feasibly spend days rooted to the spot, drinking everything in.
It is an inspiring place to be, but inspiration requires action, and quite what that inspiration means is difficult to pin down. I am certainly inspired with an intolerance of the banal cityscape of south London, the suffocating air and endless smut of urban life. The air. The air was something else in Patagonia, almost a food in itself. The clean-tasting breeze almost totally devoid of poison and pollution.
It’s a strange feeling, to move through the atmosphere feeling like you are cleaner and more purified with every breath. We went camping in the national park near Esquel, the town we were staying in. The water by the lake where we stopped for the night with the tent was gloriously clear, and so tasty. Water direct from ancient glaciers in the Andes, it was drinkable straight out of the streams all over the surrounding forest and in most of the 15-mile long lake we spent some time walking round.
One evening, on the way home from camping, we stopped at the end of Lake Futalaufqen for dinner at a heady 11 o’clock. The view of the stars as we stopped and got out of the van was simply breathtaking. The sky glowed and shimmered and twinkled, alive with action and supremely beautiful.
The first shock of realisation being in the southern hemisphere was seeing the night sky and realising it was totally strange. I’m no astronomer, but I know what’s supposed to be up in the sky every time I look up, that faithful constant throughout all of the travails of life.
But looking out of the window of the coach on the way down through Argentina to see unknown constellations and galaxies like clouds in the empty the sky, that was a humbling, lonely moment to rival no other.
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