I’m sitting in a small apartment in El Chalten. For the uninitiated (including me just a month ago) we are 49° South in Patagonia, close to the vast ice fields that remain from the last glacial period.
The first adventure is a ten-week trip through Argentina and Chile with my wife Masha and 9-month-old baby Bertrand. A combination of events meant I could take some time off work, and with the firm belief that the main regrets in life come from not taking opportunities to expand horizons we rapidly scrambled together a half-baked plan mainly based around the most interesting place accumulated British Airways Avios/Amex card rewards could get us in comfort for free: surely the basis for a successful trip if there ever was one.
Had I taken more time planning I would not have been surprised by the weather in Chalten. The El Chalten website reveals “The climate of Patagonia is well known for its strong temperament -sometimes really irascible – but we can say that splendid days, with clear blue skies and no wind are more frequent than his bad reputation suggests”.
We had arrived to glorious sunshine and have got some superb treks done but have also had our share of 90km winds whipping up dust clouds one day then driving sheets of rain through the next.
On a rainy morning with my coffee quota exceeded, the decision was made to start a second adventure: this blog. With my only writing experience being at school over 25 years ago, some leeway will be needed.
The aim is to record and share my journey(s) in the hope that it becomes in itself a navigational aid for me (a dull business mantra comes to mind: what you measure, you manage), perhaps creates interest or amusement for the reader, and maybe people can pick and choose pieces which may help in their own journeys both physically and through life.
I want to talk about the things I enjoy: the outdoors, adventure, travel, food and wine. Also, the things that are most important: family, learning to be a parent, the art of happiness.
Becoming a father has put new focus on long growing questions about decisions and priorities. I’ve always managed to maintain some level of connection to the things that I value, but consumerism and money are pervasive and have inevitably found an increasingly large place in my life. One day you wake up and realise you think those things actually matter. I’ve spent my fair share of nights in the office, experienced my fair share of stress, and have done at least my fair share of spending (my wife would reference 3 pairs of ski boots in one year).
With 38 years under the belt I want to make sure the next phase of life is a conscious decision, not just following the path of least resistance. In my mind that means more time allocated to the things that matter and less time to those that do not. More time to people who matter. A return to simplicity perhaps. Only time will tell.
Alastair, El Chalten, March 2018