When I arrived in Buenos Aires a little over a month ago, I had three main goals:

First, sleep and recover from a stressful, hectic, emotional, and wonderful last week in San Francisco.

Second, get comfy with the whole “living out of a backpack, alone” situation.

Third, head south to Ushuaia as soon as possible.

Argentina Flag in the Breeze
Argentinian Flag in the Breeze above the Perito Moreno Glacier
(All photos by Will Spencer unless otherwise noted)

I didn’t know anyone in Ushuaia, nor did I know of anything specific to do. Something about the distance called to me. Ushuaia is the southernmost point of Argentina, nicknamed “Fin Del Mundo” (End of the World) and is the main port that researchers and explorers use to reach that most alien of lands, Antarctica.

Perhaps like Truman in “The Truman Show” I was seeking my own personal Fiji, “You can’t get further away before you start coming back.”

The Truman Show Picture
“FIJI.”

I soon learned that “you can’t get there from here.” The girls working at my hostel, America Del Sur in Buenos Aires, were aghast at the notion of going direct to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires by bus, my preferred route of travel, one I had longed for since before I arrived. I wanted to soak in the landscape during the long drive, and let myself expand into it.

“That would be 40-hour bus ride!” they said, in their wonderfully-accented English.

So I asked, “Then how do I get there?”

They thought for a moment, and replied, “Well, you have to take bus to El Calafaté.”

“Then I’ll take a bus to Calafaté. How much is it?”

Overnight bus to Bariloché, Argentina
Overnight bus to Bariloché, Argentina
The attendant (right) was incredibly patient with my awful Spanish.

“Well, you can no get to Calafaté from here either. You need change in Bariloché.”

“OK… can I get a bus to Bariloché?”

“Sí, you can.”

“Great. So I can stay a night in Bariloché and then go to Calafaté.”

“Yes, but one night in Bariloché is no enough!”

And thus began an epic adventure I didn’t see coming, to lands I’d never heard of, full of beautiful things I couldn’t have imagined, and people who were missing from my life that I didn’t even know.

I could have simply charged down to Ushuaia by bus – or given up and gone by airplane – ignoring warnings about long rides and things I would miss. I could have blindly stuck to my plans, rushing towards the vision I had in mind, blind to the moment as it unfolded before me.

But then, the following might not have happened…

DJ’ing in Bariloche for the crew at Ruta 40 –

Will Spencer DJ in Bariloche
Photo by Nicolas

Climbing Campanario and getting my first glimpse of the overwhelming beauty of Patagonia –

Campanario Panoramic

Click any panoramic shot for a larger version.

The Beautiful Blue

Getting lost and ultimately finding my way to Villa Tacul beach –

Villa Tacul Beach

Arriving in El Calafaté to discover it’s possible to trek on the indescribably beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier –

Perito Moreno Glacier Face

Glacier Panoramic

Perito Moreno Glacier

Learning something important about myself in the process –

Photo of Will, Joy
Joy. Photo by Raphael Santerre

Me In A Reflection

And meeting my new friend Ben <3 –

Ben, Coy

Then traveling to El Chaltén, experiencing the beauty of Fitz Roy, Lago De Los Tres, Cerro Torre, and mí corazón, Laguna Capri –

Laguna Capri
Laguna Capri Panoramic
Lago Torre Panoramic
Lago Torre Panoramic

My Feet at Fitz Roy

Fitz Roy and Laguna Capri
And making a friend in Afra, the Duchess of Holland, on the way –

Afra Regards the Lake

Returning to El Calafaté to ride on horseback through the endless Pampa, in sight of the Perito Moreno glacier beyond –

Horseback through the Pampa

More Horses on the Pampa

Next, onward to Puero Natales in Chilé to complete the epic 5-day “W” trek in Torres Del Paine National Park, a life-changing experience that will definitely receive it’s own post

Will Treks
Photo by Rainer Knoblaugh

Seeing phenomenally beautiful sights –

Torres Del Paine Sunset

Crystal Lake

Torres Waterfall

and meeting amazing people with strong hearts who made a difference in my life along the way.

Torres Sunrise Group
GoPro Photo by Matthias

Then celebrating the achievement (and later ending up partying too hard with some Puero Natales locals) –

Beers at Base Camp

Then, in an honest attempt to finally get to Ushuaia, going to Punta Arenas, Chilé. Where I found out the bus I wanted was sold out. So I spent an extra day seeing king penguins in Tierra Del Fuego –

King Penguins

and got to see both sunrise and sunset in a long ride of self-realization –

Boat Sunrise

Tierra Del Fuego Sunset

Before FINALLY, at long last, getting on to a bus to Ushuaia –

Bus to Ushuaia

Arriving at the end of the world –

Fin Del Mundo

And Tierra Del Fuego National Park –

Tierra Del Fuego National Park

Receiving as my welcome… a day of rain. And with it, a day of rainbows –

RAINBOW 1

RAINBOW 2

RAINBOW 3

And a glimpse of a gate into the beyond –

Into the Beyond

The Rainbow Gate

But here, here was the point I wished to reach, the end of Route 3, a road that leads all the way to Alaska –

Bahia Ushuaia Sign

Provincia Sign

Not much to it…

… except for everything it took to get there.

And my final view of Tierra Del Fuego National Park, only a few muddy steps visible on a path into the distance, towards something special, something undiscovered –

The Final Mountain

Was it ever about the destination? Do these final few photos sum to the majesty of the experience of the month that it took to get there, including the people, places, and things along the way?

No, they never could have.

And they never do.

Life, whether mine or yours, is never about the destination. It is about the journey.

So as I bring to a close the first chapter of this experience, I celebrate my journey as I celebrate yours. They are not so different, beneath the surface.

It is never really about the things we want, but the growth and expansion we experience along the way towards getting them.

Farewell Ushuaia, farewell Patagonia –

Ushuaia from the Sky
Ushuaia, Fin Del Mundo, from the Air

Thank you. Until next time.

Your friend,
Will

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