I Am Joe’s Blog:

September 16, 2004 • 11:26 PM

Where is Patagonia?

I’ve just done something reckless and irresponsible: I’ve purchased two tickets to Buenos Aires. (Yes, round-trip tickets. I’m not that reckless.) Despite the fact that I was able to apply some frequent-flyer points to reduce the cost of the fare, this is going to be one monstrously expensive trip, and it’s going to put us significantly in debt. After all, we still have to pay for the tour we’re taking (meals, hotels, guide, ground transportation and so on), plus still more airfare to get us to and from our final destination: Patagonia.

On Christmas Day this year, Morgen will turn 30, and she wanted to do something special. By “special,” she meant going someplace so exotic that it was completely outside her comfort zone and her (already considerable) experience. I said, “You pick the place, and I’ll be there.” For a while it looked like we’d be going to Spain. Then Rome. Then Australia. But these places were ultimately not exotic enough. Finally she said, with irrevocable determination, “Patagonia.” So Patagonia it is. And my only question was, “By the way…where is Patagonia?”

Everyone who has seen The Princess Bride (that is, I believe, 99.3% of all English-speaking people) has heard of Patagonia—that’s where the original Dread Pirate Roberts had retired and was living like a king. (It’s all coming back to you now, isn’t it?) Patagonia is the name given to the southernmost part of South America, the west part of which is in Chile, and the east part of which is in Argentina. The exact northern boundary is somewhat indeterminate, but it seems to be around the Rio Colorado, giving Patagonia an area of about 350,000 square miles—about a third larger than Texas. It’s a really big place. And yet, it’s one of the most sparsely populated areas on Earth. You’ve got your sheep (producing the famous Patagonia wool), stunning mountains, massive glaciers, vast empty plains, and some of the fiercest winds anywhere. People—not so many. You don’t go to see amusement parks and resorts, you go to experience the breathtaking landscape, the wildlife, and the utter remoteness of it all. You go to think about pirates, explorers, ranchers, outlaws, and prospectors—the people who made Patagonia legendary.

I go for all these reasons, but mainly to help make my wife’s 30th birthday as special and meaningful as it can be. If everything goes according to plan, on her birthday we’ll be in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego—the southernmost city in the world.

In all, we’ll be gone about two weeks. A lot of that is travel time. (Did I mention it’s very, very, very far away?) I’m expecting that this adventure will provide me with enough Interesting Things to last the winter. And I also expect that we’ll return home exhausted, (more) broke, and very happy.

By the way…in a couple of years, when I turn 40, I get to turn the tables and select the crazy destination. The wheels are already spinning.

Comments

  1. December 16th, 2004 | 5:49 pm

    […] at taken to the sitter’s house. We’re off in mere minutes for our long-awaited trip to Patagonia! Stories and pictures in the new year. […]

  2. Jackie Chappell
    September 17th, 2004 | 1:11 pm

    You forgot the mention the other exciting and exotic thing about Patagonia: the Welsh colony. I’m sure it will be fantastic—have a great trip!

  3. Jackie Chappell
    September 17th, 2004 | 6:11 am

    You forgot the mention the other exciting and exotic thing about Patagonia: the Welsh colony. I’m sure it will be fantastic—have a great trip!

  4. Judy
    December 15th, 2004 | 7:06 pm

    Wow, I am so jealous!!! What a marvelous birthday gift. I can’t wait to hear all about the trip, I can picture it in my mind. (At least some of it :).) What a wonderful way to turn 30! Congratulations to your wife.

  5. Judy
    December 15th, 2004 | 12:06 pm

    Wow, I am so jealous!!! What a marvelous birthday gift. I can’t wait to hear all about the trip, I can picture it in my mind. (At least some of it :).) What a wonderful way to turn 30! Congratulations to your wife.

  6. Rev. Heng Sure
    December 15th, 2004 | 11:17 pm

    May you both be among the first to do “Monkey Walks Backwards” and “Cloud Hands” behind a windscreen of sheep on Morgen’s birthday.

    You become personally, interesting things of the day.

    Peace and joy,

    Heng Sure

  7. Rev. Heng Sure
    December 15th, 2004 | 4:17 pm

    May you both be among the first to do “Monkey Walks Backwards” and “Cloud Hands” behind a windscreen of sheep on Morgen’s birthday.

    You become personally, interesting things of the day.

    Peace and joy,

    Heng Sure

  8. Mark Hurvitz
    December 16th, 2004 | 7:40 pm

    Sounds wonderful. We look forward to seeing you on your return. (I’m curious to watch how you maintain itotd while you’re traveling.) Are you taking suggestions for your fortieth? I know of a place where forty days/years makes interesting metaphoric sense.

  9. Mark Hurvitz
    December 16th, 2004 | 12:40 pm

    Sounds wonderful. We look forward to seeing you on your return. (I’m curious to watch how you maintain itotd while you’re traveling.) Are you taking suggestions for your fortieth? I know of a place where forty days/years makes interesting metaphoric sense.

  10. February 4th, 2005 | 3:15 pm

    Well, I hope you enjoy your trip.

    I am webmaster of a site about patagonia but I also live here and travel a lot. I just got back from a wonderfull train ride that took me from the sea to the mountains. Not only that but I did it with the woman I love to have arround so it couldn´t be better.

    I plan to come back to read about your experience.

    Sincerely

    Gaston

  11. February 4th, 2005 | 7:15 am

    Well, I hope you enjoy your trip.

    I am webmaster of a site about patagonia but I also live here and travel a lot. I just got back from a wonderfull train ride that took me from the sea to the mountains. Not only that but I did it with the woman I love to have arround so it couldn´t be better.

    I plan to come back to read about your experience.

    Sincerely

    Gaston

  12. Joe Kissell
    February 10th, 2005 | 6:00 am

    Gaston: We had a fantastic visit. I’ve already written a week’s worth of articles on Patagonia for Interesting Thing of the Day (In Patagonia), and there will be another week later in February. In addition, I hope to write some blog entries here about experiences that don’t really fit into ITotD.

  13. Joe Kissell
    February 9th, 2005 | 10:00 pm

    Gaston: We had a fantastic visit. I’ve already written a week’s worth of articles on Patagonia for Interesting Thing of the Day (In Patagonia), and there will be another week later in February. In addition, I hope to write some blog entries here about experiences that don’t really fit into ITotD.

  14. November 17th, 2006 | 1:44 pm

    […] Two years ago, when Morgen turned 30, we agreed that she could choose any destination in the world for a celebratory trip, and she chose Patagonia. Our deal was that when I turned 40, which will happen this coming January, I could also choose any travel destination. I spent months thinking about this, poring over atlases and thinking seriously about dozens of countries on every continent. (Yes, even Antarctica.) In the end, I settled on Indonesia, so that’s where we’ll be spending most of January (along with a 5-day stopover in Hong Kong). […]

  15. ~Fiona~
    April 9th, 2007 | 12:17 pm

    Last night (04-08-07) I had a dream in which Patagonia was the central feature. Unlike you expectation that everyone has seen “Princess Bride”, I have not, so the name “Patagonia” was not one I would have associated with a movie.

    So, since I did not even know where Patagonia was, I did a web search this morning discovered you Adventure plans. Being an Adventurer myself, I couldn’t help but leave a note from my visit. It has been a number of years since your trip to “the place of dreams” and I hope it was the source of many other dreams yet to find their way into reality.

    ~Fiona~

  16. ~Fiona~
    April 9th, 2007 | 5:17 am

    Last night (04-08-07) I had a dream in which Patagonia was the central feature. Unlike you expectation that everyone has seen “Princess Bride”, I have not, so the name “Patagonia” was not one I would have associated with a movie.

    So, since I did not even know where Patagonia was, I did a web search this morning discovered you Adventure plans. Being an Adventurer myself, I couldn’t help but leave a note from my visit. It has been a number of years since your trip to “the place of dreams” and I hope it was the source of many other dreams yet to find their way into reality.

    ~Fiona~

  17. April 9th, 2007 | 6:44 pm

    Fiona: Yes, our trip to Patagonia was wonderful, and extremely memorable. I wrote a series of articles about it, which you can read here:

    http://itotd.com/tags/Patagonia

    Cheers,

    Joe

  18. April 9th, 2007 | 11:44 am

    Fiona: Yes, our trip to Patagonia was wonderful, and extremely memorable. I wrote a series of articles about it, which you can read here:

    http://itotd.com/tags/Patagonia

    Cheers,

    Joe

  19. marilyn
    April 14th, 2007 | 10:19 am

    Hi Joe

    I was just reading about your adventures. First I would say, NEVER put off anything, however much it costs, you never know what’s round the corner. My brother died a couple of weeks ago and he had a burning ambition to visit India for the spiritual experience but he never got there.

    Anyway, back to Patagonia, I have for the past three and a half years been living in Wales UK and am now an English ex pat!

    Yesterday I walked into a shop in Ystradgynlais (I know, it’s unpronouncable) and this shop had been turned into a gallery where anyone could display any form of artwork. The people running it were so friendly and there was a book on display. I had heard a long, long time ago about the Welsh speaking people in Patagonia. It turned out that this book was about the people who originally went from Wales and settled in Patagonia. The gentleman who runs the gallery is an ancestor of the settlers and he had written the book as an account of their adventure. Opposite the gallery is, in fact, a small cafe called the Mimosa. This cafe was named after the boat that the settlers sailed in.

    By the way, not having read all of your account yet, I wondered whether you met any Welsh decendants during your trip.

    I also wonder whether you have ever been or considered going to Wales. It is beautiful and so undiscovered by most of the tourist contingency. There are places where you can just go a sit and contemplate and not see a soul. The scenery is breathtaking. The way of life is so much calmer than in England. With your wife’s name being Morgen (which is a Welsh name) I wondered if maybe she has Welsh ancestry and therefore a trip here would be on the cards. I strongly recommend it but please don’t tell everyone about Wales because it is so unspoilt at the moment, if you get my drift! (Gosh, I must sound like I work for the Welsh Tourist Board, I DON’T!)

    So let me know if you decide to visit. It could be your next adventure into the unknown! – although not quite so remote.

    For your interest, the book, which I haven’t read yet as I only bought it yesterday, is called “The Watkin Path to Patagonia” by Huw Watkin Williams.

    Regards Marilyn

  20. marilyn
    April 14th, 2007 | 3:19 am

    Hi Joe

    I was just reading about your adventures. First I would say, NEVER put off anything, however much it costs, you never know what’s round the corner. My brother died a couple of weeks ago and he had a burning ambition to visit India for the spiritual experience but he never got there.

    Anyway, back to Patagonia, I have for the past three and a half years been living in Wales UK and am now an English ex pat!

    Yesterday I walked into a shop in Ystradgynlais (I know, it’s unpronouncable) and this shop had been turned into a gallery where anyone could display any form of artwork. The people running it were so friendly and there was a book on display. I had heard a long, long time ago about the Welsh speaking people in Patagonia. It turned out that this book was about the people who originally went from Wales and settled in Patagonia. The gentleman who runs the gallery is an ancestor of the settlers and he had written the book as an account of their adventure. Opposite the gallery is, in fact, a small cafe called the Mimosa. This cafe was named after the boat that the settlers sailed in.

    By the way, not having read all of your account yet, I wondered whether you met any Welsh decendants during your trip.

    I also wonder whether you have ever been or considered going to Wales. It is beautiful and so undiscovered by most of the tourist contingency. There are places where you can just go a sit and contemplate and not see a soul. The scenery is breathtaking. The way of life is so much calmer than in England. With your wife’s name being Morgen (which is a Welsh name) I wondered if maybe she has Welsh ancestry and therefore a trip here would be on the cards. I strongly recommend it but please don’t tell everyone about Wales because it is so unspoilt at the moment, if you get my drift! (Gosh, I must sound like I work for the Welsh Tourist Board, I DON’T!)

    So let me know if you decide to visit. It could be your next adventure into the unknown! – although not quite so remote.

    For your interest, the book, which I haven’t read yet as I only bought it yesterday, is called “The Watkin Path to Patagonia” by Huw Watkin Williams.

    Regards Marilyn

  21. April 17th, 2007 | 7:28 pm

    Marilyn:

    Thanks very much for your comments. I did indeed write about a Welsh settlement in Patagonia: Gaiman, which I found very interesting. Also, Morgen has written a few articles about Wales: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Hay-on-Wye, and Portmeirion. We’ve never been to Wales, but it sounds fascinating. I certainly hope we get the opportunity to visit one day.

    Joe

  22. April 17th, 2007 | 12:28 pm

    Marilyn:

    Thanks very much for your comments. I did indeed write about a Welsh settlement in Patagonia: Gaiman, which I found very interesting. Also, Morgen has written a few articles about Wales: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Hay-on-Wye, and Portmeirion. We’ve never been to Wales, but it sounds fascinating. I certainly hope we get the opportunity to visit one day.

    Joe

  23. December 1st, 2007 | 12:32 am

    Have you gone and returned? We’re leaving in a week for Buenos Aires and, ultimately, Tierra del Fuego.

  24. December 1st, 2007 | 2:32 am

    Have you gone and returned? We’re leaving in a week for Buenos Aires and, ultimately, Tierra del Fuego.

  25. December 1st, 2007 | 12:39 am

    Dan: Yes – this post was from the end of 2004. Please see the link in one of my earlier comments to the series of articles I wrote about it.

  26. December 1st, 2007 | 2:39 am

    Dan: Yes – this post was from the end of 2004. Please see the link in one of my earlier comments to the series of articles I wrote about it.

  27. July 15th, 2010 | 6:00 pm

    […] we agreed that she could choose any destination in the world for a celebratory trip, and she chose Patagonia. Our deal was that when I turned 40, which will happen this coming January, I could also choose any […]

  28. July 15th, 2010 | 6:04 pm

    […] the cat taken to the sitter’s house. We’re off in mere minutes for our long-awaited trip to Patagonia! Stories and pictures in the new […]

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