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Highs and lows in Chilean Patagonia

The man shook his head as he looked at the map. “You need to go the other way.” He explained in Spanish.

I translated his response to Katie who then replied in Spanish, “Are you sure?”

Katie and I had been speaking this tandem Spanish throughout our South American adventure. It worked for us. Now on our last day, standing in a metro station in Santiago, we were using it to locate our reward after three weeks of hiking: a vineyard.

“You need to go the other way.” The man repeated. We had taken the wrong train to the end of the line.

“We deserve a glass of wine!” Katie joked as we ran for the train.

“I’ve never traveled so far for a drink in my life!” I agreed.

And traveled we had! The first leg of our trip was spent hiking to Machu Picchu and exploring other Incan ruins in the Sacred Valley. Though since saying goodbye to Peru, the next chapter had been a delightful comedy of errors. It started with a misunderstanding in the security line at the Lima Airport, followed by an accidentally smuggled apple at customs and peaked with an empty baggage conveyor belt at the Punta Arenas Airport.

Through speaking our tandem Spanish we learned that Katie’s bag would be returned in a few days. “Please send it to our hostel,” we explained, “we’ll be on the trail.” With that we grabbed an airport coffee, jumped on the bus and became completely absorbed in the breathtaking landscape that surrounded us. Luggage or no luggage, we were in Patagonia and nothing could get us down.

“I only have one pair of underwear,” Katie chuckled.

The following morning we were dropped at the gate of Torres del Paine National Park, poor Katie with only my poncho to protect her from the area’s famous lateral winds. The first day was spent hiking through a windy rainstorm but the beauty that we encountered on the days that followed made those little hiccups seem obsolete. We’d entered a trekkers’ paradise full of mountains, fall colors, glacier lakes and sunrises that seemed to last all morning.

Though the moment we left the park our comedy of errors commenced. We nearly missed our flight to Santiago, our hostel was a bit of a dump and we caught the wrong train to the vineyard.

An hour later we found ourselves walking toward the locked vineyard gates. I didn’t even have to translate the displayed “Cerrado” sign. Katie and I looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders and laughed. Down the road we found a little café and the rest of the day was spent sipping foamy cappuccinos, sharing a piece of cake and reading Sherlock Holmes stories aloud.

When I think about my time in South America I don’t think about lost luggage or being interrogated by Chilean customs officers. I think about never-ending sunrises, breathtaking landscapes, deducing Sherlock Holmes, tandem Spanish and laughing through it all with a dear friend.
Las Torres On the trail Never-ending sunrise
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Jenn Winter

Jenn Winter

Currently located in:
Chicago, United States.
Twitter: @jennwinter
About me in 140 characters or less

"I'm a photographer, writer and adventurist who is up for anything! I'm in constant search of new mountains to climb and stories to tell. "

A bit more about Jenn:

"I draw the line at eating... Nothing, I'll try anything once"

"My most essential travel phrase is... Are you local?"

"My most memorable souvenir is... I have a pretty unique scar that I got while summiting Kilimanjaro a couple of years ago. I was trying to keep a camera battery warm in my sports bra and I got a bit of an acid burn on my chest. It may not be pretty but it's a lifelong souvenir of an amazing experience and a constant reminder what what I can accomplish."

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