Part of the draw of fishing is sharing the experience with friends. Probably more in flyfishing as it is more focused on the experience than about the catch. So this post is to share with my fishing buddies that were not able to go to Argentina with me, I missed you guys out there, and also to my new fishing buddies of Bariloche. I realize landing a trophy brown trout seems uneventful if I am not able to share the moment with you guys.
With not much of a guidance than a childhood dream of flyfishing the Patagonia and a guidebook written over 20 years ago, I packed up my rods and headed for Northern Patagonia for 5 weeks. The guidebook “Argentine Trout Fishing” stated that the northern area is the most accessible in terms of roads and most popular with the town Junin de Los Andes as the Capital of flyfishing in Argentina using Bariloche as a starting point to rent a car and get familiar with the area. I arrived on a Saturday afternoon after about 24 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires. The shops were closed already and will be closed on Sunday also. But I was lucky enough to find an inexpensive car rental for about $600 for a month. After asking around, I could not wait to get on the river first thing in the morning on Sunday. The closest river was the Limay which as just out of town about 10 miles. The author of the guidebook mentions that the river is popular with locals but he has never caught anything after numerous tries on the river. I surely would have more luck. Sunday, I arrived at the river to find one that is perfect—crystal clear, good flow from a large cold mountain lake. I immediately looked for fish in the river being able to look right to the deep pools to the rocky bottom. I fished the river for about 10 hours with everything, nymphs, streamers, stimulators and a variety of terrestrials. The excitement grew to frustration..how could such a beautiful river be so difficult, or maybe the river has been recently polluted recently that is not mentioned in an obviously outdated guidebook. I casted endlessly to a seemingly perfect river but not seeing any fish at all. I went back to the hostel that night wondering that I have just traveled across the globe to be skunked thinking is this how my fishing for the month will be like, maybe I should make a early reservation for a flight back.
The more I travel, the more I realize that it is not the places or the sites, that makes the experience memorable or enjoyable; it is has to do with the people and friends that you meet and share the experience along the way. So, I feel very much blessed that I was not only able to travel to see an amazingly beautiful country but more importantly was able to meet up with old friends and also meet new ones.
July 9, 2002
There are not many feelings that compare to strapping on a backpack and taking that first step out the door. My body is immediately filled with adrenaline that lifts my steps as if floating on air without notice to the 50-pound pack on my back. My mind is excited with images of new adventures that will take me to new limits. My soul feels at peace again knowing that I will be pursuing what I love most.
Travel, just the word raises my pulse! We all have some our fondest memories and experiences from traveling to various places around the world. But it is not the distance, or the exotic places that makes traveling so memorable. It is the experience of dropping our everyday routines and structured thoughts. Even the little walks that we take around our neighborhood after a long day at the office can bring the same elation as visiting the most exotic beaches in Asia. The liberating experience is really escaping from our present surrounding and traveling to a place in our mind where we can be in touch with our soul and mind.
Nothing facilitates this travel better than strapping on a backpack and heading out the door by oneself. I have backpacked regularly with every opportunity I had since being a teenager. My first brief trip exploring Tokyo when I was a teenager, I discovered a healthy addiction that I have not been able to give up. Since that first trip as a kid, now some 20 years later, my solo travels have contributed to my growth and defined the person that I am. It is not the 50 or so countries seen or exotic activities that I have done that is valuable; it is the lessons learned about myself and life that those trips offered is what I value most.
Backpacking alone is the ultimate in getting to know oneself. People I meet in my travels often ask me why I travel by myself and not with a friend and if I get lonely? It is exactly these questions confirming my belief that everybody should do it at least once. In our world, we are so busy with work, responsibilities and endless selection of entertainment, that it keeps us from getting to know ourselves and being in touch with our own feelings. It is interesting how, we are the closest being to ourselves, yet we are increasingly more distanced from ourselves! I think this is root cause of increasing unhappy people in our society. If we could all only travel and get to spend time with ourselves and get to know ourselves intimately, we will gain a soul mate that will always be there with us. But instead of seeking the greatest friend that we can have, we seek comfort in our jobs, money and other material possessions. Others are less extreme, seeking comfort and happiness in friends, family and a partner. But I wonder how we can find the beauty at a distance, when we can’t find the beauty closest by, in ourselves?
From my travels alone, I have met my best friend and soul mate that I can always depend on for comfort and happiness. I have found myself! I found a friend that I can always share my deepest thoughts whether it be in a moment of sadness or happiness. I found him to be understanding and patient and a friend that will be there when I am down and out. When I am excited, he too is there laughing and smiling sharing my euphoria.
This friendship was not always the best. Our relationship has been developed and nurtured over a long time. We were strangers and not the best of friends at the beginning. Without knowing him well, I was critical of his differences from my lack of understanding. Our friendship is not different from any others in this perspective. But I think our relationship is special in that we have grown to appreciate each other from our travels together.
Traveling has a way to bring out the best and the worst of us. Backpacking brings out challenges that we do not face in our regular lives at home – the physical endurance of carrying a 50lb pack all day going from place to place and going door to door looking for a room to finally put it down. The language and culture barriers force me to think before I speak and to be more sensitive to my surroundings and actually make the effort to listen. What a concept! How often does one actually make an effort to listen and be sensitive to our surroundings at home? But in our travels it is a necessity of survival.
When we travel, we see things from a new perspective. By making that decision to travel, we subconsciously make the decision to drop our ingrained biases, habits and protectiveness; opening us to a new experience and world. We commit to opening up our senses to experience new ideas, cultures, and thoughts. With all our senses unfiltered, we are able to feel wonderful things surrounding us. The colors light up more vividly, the aroma brings back lost memories, and we begin to hear the melody and harmony in sounds. Life seems to all of sudden come alive again.
Incredibly, this new outlook actually is most valuable for allowing us to look inward. By opening up our senses, we are better able to be in touch with ourselves. We begin to feel our own heart, to listen to our own mind and to understand our own thoughts. We come home more at peace with ourselves, essentially as a result of finding a new faith in ourselves. Sometimes we have to travel great distance to find that special treasure which has always been close by.