I searched for the most breathtaking mountain google could show me, found it, booked the flight.
This picture took me to Chile, where my journey began on my own at the very North of the country, in the Martian-like desert: Atacama. The plane lands, and what I see is...nothing, the most beautiful "nothing". Three colors filled my eyes for the next week: blue, white, and clay.
It was here where Planet Earth showed me a glimpse of what its capable of in such a short time and distance.
From 20+ to below 0ºc in less than 1 hour´s car trip, from taking your breath for granted and in the next moment your lungs are begging for descent from the high altitude, from seeing the bluest and purest of skies above your wondering mind, and all of the sudden it’s pouring the heaviest of rains. It was here where I felt the weight of the winds, and probably where I felt the coldest I have ever been in my life. I wanted more, more of this and everything I didn’t know, it was time for glaciers and lakes.
Inevitably, I took my first of many bus rides. Thousands of kilometers and trees later, I arrived at the "border" of Patagonia. Once the bus doors opened, man... was I a little boy in a candy shop. Patagonia greeted me with the clearest lakes, green hills and an active volcano – it’s a respectable effort to the top but worth the humbling event of watching lava been thrown as if it is in slow motion.
Days were going by as I relied my survival in massive sandwiches and empanadas, temperatures kept subtly dropping and the surroundings changing.
I made my way south and deeper into the heart of Patagonia crossing the border into Argentina, (here is where the cliché quote comes in): words and pictures could not describe the magnitude of this raw beauty, lakes, glaciers, white mountain caps and rivers were constantly invading my sight, where was I to go after this?
Crossing back to Chile, I left the best for last: the reason I had traveled 22 hours in 3 flights, over 4000km by bus, with many meaningful small stories crossing my path - the reason was that picture I had seen back home, the three giant walls of stone.
I took my first step into the 19km trail, the sun was rising and my excitement too. This was different from other trails I've done, I didn’t take my camera out of the bag until I had reached the return point. Why? To soak in as much as I could and just appreciate my surroundings: it was a walk of contemplation. There's something renovating about being by yourself in the middle of nowhere, small things that have a big impact like simply refilling your canteen bottle from the stream with the clearest water, water so clear that not even the typical supermarket can provide, or standing at the edge of giant cliffs and hearing nothing but the wind.
1km left and what a brutal finishing climb it was, you've got really earn it if you want to see the giant naturally carved rocks up close with your own eyes, nevertheless, I reached the top and there they were, Torres del Paine. The urge to take a photograph was what had brought me here in the first place and now that I was standing in front of them, an overwhelming mix of emotions rushed through me. I was so happy to be where I was, so proud of actually taking action from such a small idea on some random day back home, and how beautiful and kind life can be. I immersed myself into the scenery and stayed as long as I could before it got dark, took no more than 5 pictures and left: it was time to go home.
Traveling is exploring, it sets you in the present moment. Explore wherever you are, even if it is just your home town, and you’ll be travelling every day.
Thom van Esveld