I generally spend a lot of time ruminating when I travel, whether I’m alone digital nomad-ing or enjoying a country’s natural places with a chipper companion. One of the things I thought about a lot on this trip is something that I love about traveling: it forces me to be more “present” in each moment. It’s both comforting and frightening how much of our lives can be done on auto-pilot; we coast through our daily routines with nary a thought to all of the elements that contribute to making our lives live-able. We know what we like, where to go, how to pay for things, what to say, and how to get there—and we do all of these things with very little contribution from our brains. However, when you’re in a foreign country, you’re forced into another world where you can no longer take even the simplest of things for granted—like communication, clean water, currency, or how to get from point A to point B. Everything requires more careful thought and this extra thought contributes to heightening our appreciation. When I travel, I suddenly feel switched “on”—each moment vibrates with more clarity and depth—not just because it’s all new to me, but also because I have greater appreciation for what it took to be in that moment. Being switched “on” can be an exhilarating feeling: sounds and smells come alive, nuances become more apparent, and details more pronounced. However, as with most things, it also has its downsides. I noticed that when things went wrong on this trip, I felt the impact more deeply than I might have when I’m surrounded by the comforts of my own home and routine. All of a sudden, things that I might normally take with more stride affected me more deeply and had a greater capacity to throw me off track mentally. I suppose my personal challenge is to find a way to balance both worlds—my home and “away” worlds—so that I’m better able to feel “present” in both, but in a way that isn’t destabilizing.
Now on to other topics that are less rambling and more relevant within the context of this trip: while David and I were living it up in Patagonia, Argentina’s presidential election came and went and the Peronist party that was expected to win did, in fact, win. Despite what happened this past August after the presidential primaries, this did not cause the peso to crash again and the economy is still hanging on by a thread, though with dire predictions of how the new party’s policies will impact the economic future of the country. I hope the predictions prove to be false—Argentina has been through quite enough economic upheaval these last several decades, thank you very much. On the Chilean side, Fernanda tells me that the worst of their crisis appears to be over. The curfews have been lifted and flights, public transportation, and other services are running again. Nevertheless, the unrest continues in the form of random looting, burning of metro stations, and other forms of protesting. It seems that Chile’s sleeping bear has awakened and will not be easily satiated. Although I still feel sad that these events prevented Fernanda from joining us, she’s making plans to visit the US in the future, so I know we’ll see each other again.
It’s amazing how much can happen while one is away, whether it’s two weeks or two months. Speaking of which, I understand a lot has happened in my home country while I’ve been away on this trip. Maybe Prosper—my Lyft driver from the beginning of this trip—was right. One can only hope.
Thanks for joining me in another wonderful adventure. Until next time…