delighted to welcome Toronto writer and food expert Anik See as
a new member of the Journeywoman network. From the temple festivals
of Bali to the wine harvests of Georgia to the fragrant bazaars
of Iran, Anik has circled the globe by foot and by bike. Among
her favourite places in the world is Patagonia, the rocky and
remote area in the south of Argentina. Anik writes...
Patagonia? The truth was, I'd wanted to go there since I could read,
and the truth is I have not stopped thinking about it since I got
back, and that's going on five years now. Not a day goes by when
I don't wish I were there...
cross into Chile again near the town of Futaleufu. If
I thought I was in Patagonia before, it does not even
compare to the Patagonia I am in now. From the open
steppes and sandstone-coloured mountains of Argentina,
I pass the frontier and enter a cacophony of landscape,
of verdant mountains crashing into each other, of snarling
vegetation and roaring rivers. There is a quality of
sharpness in everything that is unfathomable. Darwin
called it "nature's workshop."
roll into town just after dark and stand in an abandoned
plaza in the centre of town. It is dimly lit by strings
of lights that swing violently in a sudden
breeze, surrounded by the spiky, swooning branches of
Patagonia's famous araucarias, monkey puzzle
trees. I look across the plaza and see a store whose
front window is crammed with small wooden ships. The
dim light of a candle wavers behind them and the silhouette
of a tall thin man fills the door frame. He whistles
to get my attention and asks if I need anything. I ask
him if there is a place to camp around here.
he says, pointing behind be, "down by the river, at
the bridge there. There's some good flat ground. And
all the water in the world. But why don't you
come in for a coffee first?"
inside of the shop is crammed with more wooden ships--everything
is wooden...the walls, the creaky, worn floorboards,
coated in a fine sheen of sawdust. Luis clears some
old newspapers off a table and beckons me to sit. He
brings warm milk and instant coffee and I ask him about
the boats. It seems a strange thing to sell in the mountains.
He smiles and says, "One is never far from the sea in
Chile." This is true. At its greatest breadth, Chile
is only 120 kilometres wide.
sit by the water...
takes me down to the river and helps me set up my tent.
We sit by the water for a while, listening to it rush
over rocks. He tells me this is the most beautiful river
in Chile and if he could, he would build a house over
it so that he would be reminded of its beauty at any
a long silence, he gets up and bids me goodnight, but
returns ten minutes later to find me still sitting there.
He smiles and says, "Ah, the Futaleufu, she has you
now.... She won't let go." He has brought me a bag of
bread and cheese and mate, and wishes me a good
trip. When he turns to leave, he is immediately absorbed
into the darkness.