"Il n'y a plus que la Patagonie, qui convienne a mon immense tristess ...", writes Blaise Cendrars in Prose du Transsiberien. I wanted to know more about the geography and people, which turned Bruce Chatwin from a journalist into a a fine writer. There, in his book on his journeys down in the most Southern Part of the Andes, it says: "Patagonia! ... She is a hard mistress. She casts her spell, An enchantress! She folds you in her arms and never lets go."
Patagonia is a desert of thorns, bushes, steppe, Megellanic and Valdivian forests, ice fields and glaciers - which is shared between Argentina and Chile. It is a volcanic area with Ceratous rocks and Teriarty granite, cut deep in my rivers and with long sand and gravel fields in meandering streams. El Calafate, even it is still a large settlement for Patagonian standards, already is a village community. And it is not just because of the visitors still passing by here that most clothes you can buy are outdoor gear. There is simply indoor life expect the dinner table and the bed in El Calafate. And people are so strait forward that it took me sometimes some effort to remember to be still in South America.
Patagonia is the last place on Earth, which was reached by human migration. Wherever you walk, you will go for hours. But time goes slow in Patagonia. Nothing matters, but being warm, fed and knowing directions. Like this you hike through crystal clear air and drink from crystal clear rivers. The guest house outside El Chalten, where the railheads to Mount McKinroy start, was powered by the river nerby. Drilled into my mind since childhood to switch off the light when leaving the room, here it was just a bit of clear water running a turbine alongside the house. The Patagonian Ice Field is feeding countless glaciers pushing their bright blue compressed ice masses down into the low land. They end in moraines, or break off in lakes. Many of them are still stable, luckily - despite global warming. It is like nothing from the "other world" can touch you here.
I know many people, when they think about where to retire, they think about a place with mild weather and good medical services. I am actually thinking about Patagonia. As I quoted before: "... She folds you in her arms and never lets go." This is one of the most fascinating landscapes I have seen so far. If I ever have the chance for a new sabbatical to write a book, then I might write it here.