I have been accused of being overly optimistic; I am usually happy to agree. While a bend towards the positive can be a strength, it can also lead me to underestimate time limits, overstretch capacities, and just annoy the stuff out of people who think I should be more realistic. Despite all this, I seek to keep my glass half full, and was delighted to share a full-fledged Chilean adventure with a travel buddy of the same mind. Blame it on genetics or a life spent making the best of things, but there is no denying my cousin Cristin and I are both optimists. While travelling in Patagonia last week, we kept going even when turning back may have been the obvious choice and used the power of positive to overcome a whole array of challenges.
It all started at the airport. We had booked tickets, confirmed times, and were all packed to fly out of Santiago and into the snowy south of Chile. The allure of Patagonia is obvious: the peaks of Torres Del Paine national park grace most travel books, plenty of people name it as their favorite spot in Chile, and it must be pretty cool to have inspired a wildly successful clothing brand. We kept all this in mind when we were informed that we in fact did not have reserved tickets; with only 15 minutes to get our bags checked and make our flight, we decided to pay double what we’d planned on and take the trip despite this little hiccup. It turns out one of the confirmation emails I’d neglected to read had in fact been informing me that our reservation had been rejected. Yikes.
Fortunately, Rayna loves airplanes (and the reason is no mystery…she has watched Toy Story 3 on every airplane she has been on since July and she may love Woody more than Jesus;). The three-hour flight went smoothly and we grabbed a rental car in Punta Arenas that looked perfect for zipping around the city. Unfortunately, we had no plans to be in the city; in fact, we would drive that little Hyndai through a sleet storm, through a mountain-cross bike race, and up and down the edge of a mountainous national park. Was it the best car for the trip? Obviously not. Did we make it work? Absolutely! It was also stick shift which seemed a little dubious when Cristin informed me in the rental lot that she was “ a little rusty” on how to drive stick. Sure, there were some stalls, but with a focused can-do attitude, she totally had it mastered by the end of the trip, and we both loved the adventure quotient it added.
Unlike the well-kept gravel roads circling the jagged peaks of Torres del Paine (towers of blue), things didn’t go especially smoothly on this trip. Both Cristin and I got head colds. Reservations had to be made, cancelled, remade and confirmed (ideally that would’ve happened seamlessly; the airplane ticket debacle demonstrates it clearly didn’t). Cruddy websites literally required 20 attempts before we successfully secured a room at Torres Central lodge and tickets to see Grey Glacier. And did I mention we were travelling with a two year old? Who is currently flexing her ‘NO’ muscle? And just figured out she can jump out of the pack and play? But we didn’t let that stuff get us down. We kept going, even when we felt like maybe we were the definition of insane.
The result was a memorable trip to a majestic place. We made it through the storm to see amazing blue glaciers and found out the rainhood on Rayna’s pack works pretty freaking well. We spent one night on bunk beds in a lodge with burly hikers and woke up to the site of snow covered peaks and sunshine. And we drove through the park in our little white sedan with gusto. The turquoise waters of the lakes were enchanting. The granite peaks were actually profound. And the whole thing was that much sweeter because we had to overcome a lot to make it happen. While I might not recommend travelling to the end of the world with a toddler and a cold, I would recommend always hoping for the best, even when things get hard. Our trip could have sucked, but it didn’t, mostly because we just refused to let it. I hope you too can find the hard fought good to celebrate this week! Love!!!