My New Goal: to get on top of Aconcagua

Trip Start Dec 10, 2005
Trip End Jun 05, 2006

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Monday, March 20, 2006

The Heart
--by Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter - bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."

The next bus to Puente del Inca leaves at 6PM on sundays. Damn it, i was hoping to catch some mountain scenery in daylight but i did not want until the next day to get on the morning bus either. I much prefered to be sleeping in the mountains that night instead of expensive and bland Mendoza.

I am glad i chose to go because it was a great bus ride. Well, great in a personal way. No startling scenery or such since most of the way i stared at the darkness and the silhouettes of large mountains hiding in it. But boy it was a great ride. The wind in my face, the stars twinkling, my spirits lifted immediately and I knew it was going to be special time in puente del inca. My trip to argentina so far had not been personally fulfilling, i seemed to be moving through space with a hole in my heart. But on this bus ride , i felt good again. The hole was gone, i felt strong and hopeful. I was listening to Oribital most of the way interspersed with Dead Can Dance and Eminem with Macy Gray. Trust me it was the perfect combination. Some tension to diffuse the frustration of the last few days and then some abstract rythms to facilitate the out pour of thoughts.....

And thanks Ron, you delivered on your unspoken promise that i would see stars in Puente del Inca. I saw stars before i even got to the place. And thanks fr suggesting puente del inca. I would have never vebntured here if Ron had not told me about this place and shown me his pictures.

I love bus rides, i do most of my thinking staring out the window. My mind was racing again and this time i decided to write it all down. I started to write and i wrote and i wrote and i wrote. In fact when i got off the bus, the man sitting next to me commented about how much i wrote :)

I love mountains and briefly very briefly amid the lush tropical vegetation of Bolivia´s beautiful Orient, i had forgotten how much i like the rocky behemoths. Its more than their exterior beauty. Mountains move me, they touch my soul. I cant explain since its not something tangible but it felt so good to just quietly watch them. The darkness before me had swallowed the drudgery and discontent of the last few days and i was at peace again with myself. Happy images began to appear, happy memories on my trip so far: walking in paracas, morning walk at the pisco beach, admiring the cloud forest with Joey on the inca trail, hiking up to and standing on Wyna Picchu, spelunking in Toro Toro, swimming in lake Titicaca, laughing my heart out on the way back from the sacred valley with Monique, Hong and Jenny, Sucre.....the dinner parties, music at Salfari´s, chess at cafe mirador, my second night at mithos, mango many memories in Sucre, throwing water balloons at the oruro carnival, dancing in the night at the santa cruz carnival dripping with color and ice cold water......and then memories of home seal beach with richard trying to protect my modesty as i took off my shirt and had a face-off with the strong winds blowing in from the ocean, lexi running into the fog at night in seattle, lexi swimming in the river in whistler, me trying to stop crazy lexi jumping off a cliff into the lake at whistler and on and on and on....

NO the altitude was not getting to me !!!!

If i had any doubts about journeying all the way to Mendozoa only to be at Puente del Inca, they were instantly erased as i walked in the front door to sounds of guitar and people laughing. A party of americans and the hostal guide Julien were entertaining themselves, Fred was at the guitar singing a folk song. After i informally checked-in, Julien took to the guitar and entertained us until it was time for bed.

The next morning, i decided to join Fred, Tracy and Catherinka to Aconcagua. Julien appropriately nicknamed our walk The American Expedition to Aconcagua. Well not to the top, just the best viewing point in the park. We all wanted to walk further, but permits were required to go beyond the Brad Pitt bridge to base camp 1. A requirement, what is that......of course i wanted to break rules and sneak pass the guards to base camp one. And so i did :)0 I caught up with this girl i met who was attempting to hike up Aconcagua alone. I decided to give her company as far as i could go. It was a great idea since not only did i walk to base camp I, but we had a lovely conversation on the way there. It seemed to be day of lovely conversations because on my way back i met a Japanese Argentinian named Yon and we accompanied each other back to Puente del Inca. Now he was interesting and a real nice guy. We talked about the immigrant expereince, the struggle and search for balance between old and new cultures, living a conscientious life inside the matrix and so on.... We seemed to have much in common in terms of perspective and experience. Although our meeting was brief, i think I may have made a friend for life.

The day ended with some serious partying, barbeque and more music by Julien at the bar-club house behind the train station. In actuality the location use to have a different purpose, it was the place where trains were turned around and the remnants of the mechanisms were still in place which gave the bar a very interesting and unique atmosphere. All in all, it was a very full day and sadly but surely i was ready to take leave. My knee had been irritated by the hike and i was in no condition to do any more walking. Puente del Inca was a surprisingly brief but satisfying visit.
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