Headin’ Down South and Around
Pucon is a beautiful southern Chilean mountain lake town. What makes this place distinctive amongst all the other beautiful Chilean mountain lake towns is that it's dominated by the smokingly active volcano Villarica, which provides a lung-tearing 4 hour grumble-slog up to the vent at the top, and a 1 hour holler-and-hoot down courtesy of snow-ass-sliding-ice-axe-braking and scree-running-hilarity. Best day out! Worth every lactate-inducing step to get to the top to stand and hold up your ice axe channelling Hillary. There's also amazing hotpools in the town that my loose and laid back hostel owner Jose takes me to late at night under the stars and it's just a brilliant magical place away from big cities. At the vegetarian-social-consciousness-cafe !Ecole! I hear from the owner Herman that a guy was through here three weeks ago trying to sell his touring bike, which is like an aha! moment telling me that I am on the right trail after-all.
I think about what sustains you. How your lifestyle and all of its facets either supports your growth, provides you with nurturing challenges, or detracts from your growth, holds you back strangling you. The topic comes to me graciously, as I sip-coffee during the morning’s walking-the-town joe-break. It’s ironically pertinent sitting and writing about this, as another walk-in customer slurs over a bottle of Heineken asking me for money while he takes lines.
Travelling these past few weeks has clearly been a trial of ups and downs. ‘Seeking’ is the primary battleground for me. When I’m winning I’m not seeking-at-all but trusting and enjoying the moment! When I’m losing it feels like I’m seeking at each turn. A lack of mental stillness while travelling might keep you moving-too-fast to be able to build on any clarity, maybe it can hold you back indefinitely as you become addicted to the newness of the next town, the next new group of friends, the next thing, the next thing... This could go-on indefinitely. It leads me to ponder the backpacker-lifestyle, does it help or does it hinder.
I kept trekking further south to Valdivia, an estuary town, the first navigable river system as you come north having rounded Cape Horn. I headed back across the Andes to Argentina and to Bariloche, another mountain lake town, but what a difference being raped by the tourist-industry makes. So I got out of there as fast as the bus timetable would allow further south to El Bolson, where the alternative lifestylers micro-brew their own beers and sell their crafts at the town-market. And all the while I'm bus-and-town-hopping hauling my not-at-all backpacking-friendly-bags of motorcycle-gear from bus-station-to-hostel-to-bus-station wide-eyed at all the mountain scenery I cannot wait to explore, hopefully one day soon on the back of something bike-like.
And as I follow a trail of breadcrumbs around the southern cone of South America I ask myself this; have my feelings of spiritual wealth, sense of character, and stability increased? Have there already been insights on the road into things you can obtain no other way? Amazing people and magical moments? All unquestionably, inargueably, yes. So I let go the reins and wonder what's in store for me as I roll on towards the next town.