31 Oct, Bariloche to Colonia Suiza, Patagonia, Argentina
Got up in the morning had a good sleep, still not well (blessed cold) but the day is beautiful and I will explore nature. This area is like Switzerland, Europe. there are even pines trees and you can imagine yourself there.
I had two choices by local bus to go to the Hotel Liao or to go to Colonia Suiza Both locations circle Logo Perito Moreno (lake).
I sat at the bus stop waiting for the 20 or 10 to arrive. I noticed in the park behind me two huge trees, they would be more than 200 years old looking at the girth. You would need several people linking arms to measure the circumference of the tree. They looked like old oak trees. Should tie a yellow ribbon hey. I wondered about the old growth forests in this area.
As i sat a nice woman around my age, sat next to me. We smiled politely. I asked her if the number 10 bus went past. She spoke english back to me. We ended up having a discussion. She lives locally and has been thinking about leaving. She sees herself as 40 years old and in a job that is very demanding. She works in hotels 6 days a week and is exhausted. She is looking further a field. Her sister, nieces and nephews live here and her parents are in Buenos Aires. She said it was hard to live here as a single person as people expect you to be married. The same old story I´ve heard many times. Society not accepting single women. I told her better to be single then in a loveless marriage. So many people are struggling to raise kids and many feel imprisoned in their lives. I said enjoy the fact you are free. She said she can do whatever she wants. This is the beauty of self determination. I said to her we all get lonely from time to time but I wouldn’t change it to just have someone around. If you pick the wrong person then it becomes a difficult life. Although you can leave. I told her my story and that i could never have done the peace work or become a clown had i been married. We women tend to dedicate our lives to our partners and our dreams get left on the back burner. I much prefer to contribute independently then stay in security for the sake of social convention. Better to go it a lone. Actually when i was in the forest i was smiling to myself thinking i would not be on a world trip if i had a partner. So freedom is the booty of independence. There is no doubt about that. I encouraged her to follow her heart and do what she loves. Don´t worry about what people think. She is thinking of returning to Buenos Aires. In this part of the world life is not easy and there is no welfare system. Or at least you have to meet criteria to get 3 months but that is only 100 pesos a week i think. Not much. So choices are not so easy but i do believe in following your own rhythm and i do know that life often opens up in magical ways. We are not as stuck as we think. She was happy and then got on the bus.
I sat waiting and the 10 never showed up so I caught the number 20. It was breathtakingly beautiful driving out of Bariloche on winding roads that hugged the lake. You could see the snow capped mountains across the river and actually on both sides as we moved along. I took a lot of photos. It was a stunning day. Then the bus stopped at a place called Cerro Campanaria. I looked at the map and it was close to the intersection where the two routes divided. My feeling was to go to Colonia Suiza. It would be a 6 km walk and I did think about this given my cold. I decided to go for it and impulsively jumped off the bus. I took my backpack and walked along the road marvelling at the mountains, the flowers and the lake. I turned off the road and headed to Colonia Suiza. It was so peaceful with the birds chirping and then coming up on the most idealic views of nature. I decided to record my thoughts on my camera. How nature inspired me in peace and my life so far. I will upload it to youtube. This to me is paradise and I am thinking a lot about the environmental destruction. Even the tourist industry hungers for these views, yet they log forests to get the wood to build these impressive buildings. It is like creating a fantasy land. Certainly in this neck of the woods (pardon pun) you see many elaborate and beautiful hostels, hotels, restaurants, they all look incredible but there is a price we pay. Not only in $US, which is more than western countries I noted. Exploitation for greed is an epidemic on the planet, everyone is out to take money from each other, to survive. Some more desperately than others, some more cunningly than others. I find the energy I am not drawn to, that is why I often clown for free. I like to demonstrate some things in the world are free. No angle or agenda.
I noticed the clear fresh water running in rivulets and I am guess finding its way to lakes. It would be glacial run off. I scooped up some in my bottle and just drank the smooth, natural unadulterated water. How often do we get that experience.
The road wound its way to quite a broad bridge. There were some American tourists taking pictures. I wandered up and got them to take one of me in heaven. You just stare at the vast lake on one side and then to the mountains overshadowing the lake on the other side. It was incredibly beautiful. I tried to savour the moment. This is why i came here. To get out of the cities is just wonderful. Such fake and manufactured environments, filled with noise and distraction. I thought of all the people who come to places like this to gain a feeling of freedom and peace. Why can´t we have this all the time. We can.
Every now and then I come across a 200 year old tree. The magesty of these ancient trees is just moving. The tree has huge branches coming out like arms, defying gravity as they curl upwards. The solid trunk just anchors these huge trees into the soil. Just imagine, the whole place would have been covered by these trees. How much of nature have we taken? These trees are my trees not just Argentina, they belong to the planet.
I had a musing on ownership. I saw some signs which said private property keep out. I see this as untrue. Noone owns anything in truth. We are here temporarily. We created a thing called ownership and then accorded private property rights which include or exclude people. In reality the earth is one and nobody owns anything. If you were to explore the word own you will find that we can´t own anything. Yet that very notion has prevented people from being free to explore their world. Even paddocks are fenced off and warning signs are there. I remember in England wanting to run through a canola paddock and found I couldn´t. The indigenous had no notions of mine or yours, it was all me. They saw themselves as embedded within nature, not separate as we do. It is to really look into a pyschology of separation that is the root of the destruction of nature. We are also not in harmony as competition is fostered, fear is exacerbated and greed is rewarded, these are not positive qualities that preserve the earth. These are the very topics that need to be discussed not as them and us but as we learn to work together to solve the problems we are all facing.
As I walked I noticed rocks with black crystal formations in them. I noticed quite a few crystals and wondered about the energy of the land. This place is a sacred site and I am not lost on the high energy here. There are plenty of rocks that have been washed up into rivers. Some of them are boulders, very spectacular. The power of nature astounds me.
I observed not much bird life or animals of any sort. I did see one eagle. I have been told that the wildlife has been decimated. Perhaps further in Patagonia it is prevelent the further away from people. I hope so. In Australia you do see more animal life.
I walked into the town of Coplonia Suiza and heard some music wafting out of a restaurant. It was traditional music and I wondered at the traditional gatherings where people came together to share food and music. This was for the tourists so I don´t feel to go there. Everything about the tourist industry is to capture people´s money it is not a cultural exchange or welcoming of foreigners, they are tolerated because jobs are created. That is not the vibe I am seeking. I am sure people meet lovely people all the time but the industry itself is a business.
I noticed the prices of waffles for US$10, i saw coffees for $8, you wouldn´t pay that in New York. I was shocked, I am trying to laugh more but deep down I am really disturbed by the greed and embarrassed. There is no way I would pay these prices out of principle. But I guess there market is luxury and they will pay, particularly American tourists. However, for ordinary tourists they are priced out. There are ways around that I can stay in a cheap hostel, buy raw foods and cook. Which is what I am doing.
I know this sounds cynical but I find when I am in the middle of nature, the last thing I want to see is jewellery for sale, restaurants and towns built to simply take the money. It just doesn´t work in harmony with the natural order. I just see this, want to enjoy the nature but can´t help but see what blocks the view.
I noticed Argentines came to this place and had BBQ´s together, there is no way they can afford to buy what the tourists buy. It must cause tension which is probably why tourists are tolerated, there would be jealousy. Tourism can protect nature but my feeling is that it just exploits it. At the end of the day you have to have a harmony consciousness that works in harmony with nature not dominating it. Anything that dominates is destroying these wilderness areas. Very sad.
Later on that evening when i returned to the hostel I talked to an Argentine woman about life here. She said she worked 9 hours per day in a hotel, luxury one attending to room service. She said she was paid 3,800 pesos a month. These hotels are charging $US600 per night. It is unbelievable exploitation of the local people. Who work so hard for so little, they can barely survive. So as the weatlhy people agree to these exhorbitant prices they subtly support that exploitation. This is the capitalist system in all its glory. It looks beuatiful on the outside but inside there is no beauty when one person suffers. I understand Gandhi´s word that there is no beauty in the finest cloth when people are exploited. He was talking about the imported materials from the UK at the time of British occupation. He encouraged home spun, whilst the material was plain there was no suffering in its manufacture. He gained support of the workers in the clothing mills in Britain, as they understood suffering.
So until we reconnect with our truth and face the industries we all prop up with our spending, and decide to value something higher, the planet will just increasingly be destroyed until we learn to love others as ourselves.