Life is a funny thing: This notion was emphatically reaffirmed in my mind literally moments after publishing my last post.
I was about to receive a housemate.
In fact, he arrived just 30 minutes after I got the news. He was a short, tubby man, somewhere in his late thirties or early forties. He was plainly dressed: He wore a weathered blue T-shirt with the words “Viva Patagonia!”, sandy jeans and a dusty pair of black leather shoes. His warm smile radiated amidst a greying five-o-clock shadow as we both stepped forward to embrace in a firm handshake.
His name was Pichuco.
He spoke very little English, but we persevered (along with my limited Spanish) and I learned that he was here in Calafate to work as a mechanic for the chairlifts of the local ski station. I told him about the work I was doing here and that I came from a tiny country with a population of over 5 million, to which he belted out a delightful bout of laughter. I was taken aback by his sudden reaction and and perhaps as a result spontaneously started to join him in his amusement.
He seemed like a terrific guy. Yet the thought that my whole plan for independence was now going to be put on hold again came back: Was I going to ever get that opportunity?
I started this blog to help me make sense of what goes through my head: I wanted all the muddled ponderations to be cleansed in a river of understanding, in which the doubts are washed away and only an essence remains. At least that’s the goal.
I suppose what’s clear to me is this:
Life is about adaptation. It’s never going to go as you expect it to and you can’t sit back and sulk when that happens. The best laid plans often change, and that needs to be embraced because you can never tell how that change might add something to your life.
I have 2 more weeks in Argentina, and I may not get the chance to return for the foreseeable future.
I need to soak in the fresh air on my morning jogs by the lake. I need to experience cycling to and from work alongside cars zooming past me on the narrow roads. If I have someone living with me, I need to give him my best.
I need to let what happens here, happen.
Pichuco had brought his bags to the living area. I had just been to the supermarket so I began unpacking the paper bag full of supplies.
He picked his car keys up from the table and told me he was headed out to the drugstore to buy more food for the both of us. I offered to give him some money for the groceries, to which he replied,
“It’s okay. What’s mine is yours.”
Well, it’s now been just over 24 hours since I’ve had the house all to myself.
I cycled back from work at around 7 yesterday evening and whipped up some dinner: Heated up the unfinished sandwich from lunch and cooked my penultimate pack of Indomie with a touch of olive oil and honey (when the supermarket just doesn’t have soy sauce), the latter being a pretty satisfying change from the usual Argentinian meat and bread.
Overall, I think I’m pretty pleased with where I am at the moment.
In December, I was adamant that I’d spend these few months traveling Spain.
But plans change.
Opportunities present themselves and you need to decide whether or not you’re willing to ditch your original ideas to pursue something that takes you out of your comfort zone.
If I had said no to working in Andorra (Argentina wasn’t on the table at that time) I’d probably be lying on the sofa back in Singapore presumably after a month and a half of backpacking. Instead I’m now (literally) on the edge of the world, in a place that everyone says they wish they could have visited.
I’m lucky to be here, but I’m glad I was willing to take that leap of faith.
So the place I’m staying in is pretty sizeable: It’s a two-storey terrace house with a kitchen, living space, bathroom (army days are long gone) and two bedrooms. It’s really meant for something like 3 or 4 people or someone like me who just enjoys having a bit more space. It was bought a couple of years ago for the overseas employees of my company so I don’t pay any rent, which makes this whole arrangement even better.
It’s far from the kind of accommodation I expected to be staying in on my travels. I always pictured myself checking into a tiny hostel room with a nothing but a bed and a foot locker, but I suppose I’ll still get to do that when the time comes. The plan is that after Argentina I spend some time in Barcelona before doing that solo backpacking trip around the South of Spain that I had planned for in the first place, but then again who knows for certain right?
Right now, I’m just going to savour these next two weeks of liberty: A chance for me to truly embrace independent living.
So here I am, living it up in Patagonia on my last pack of Indomie.
So I guess this has been in the works for the last couple of weeks.
I’ve been in living in El Calafate, Argentina for the past week with a few of my colleagues who as of tonight will be flying back to Barcelona. I’ll be living alone for the first time, and in the relative wilderness of South America, no less.
I’m excited about this.
It’s been over 3 months since my ORD from national service, and I’m midway through this long period before university starts in September. This time was always meant to be something transformational: A chance for me to go on an adventure, to say “yes” to new experiences, to rediscover myself. So far it’s been a fruitful and memorable journey to different parts of the world, where I’ve met some truly wonderful people and seen some incredible destinations.
Yet it was missing the kind of self reflection that I had sought for at the start. How are these experiences shaping me? What kind of relationships do I hope to form with people on my travels? What frame of mind do I want to be in before entering university in America? I needed to document my thoughts. Currently they exist only as a stream of consciousness: inklings and impressions that constantly manifest in my mind, with each one slowly drifting away as time goes by. I want to try and make sense of them while they’re still vivid.
This post represents my first small step towards self discovery. Just like the beautiful Patagonian sunrise, this is to a new beginning.