Walking Home

reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

In Patagonia Day 2

February 20th, 2018

Day 2

Restless night, still adjusting to time change, then over coffee I finished reading Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, and after, a quest for a battery power brick. Unbeknownst to me, the Wellington airport baggage team removed my Anker power brick—one that had taken me around the world—as new airline regulations do not allow them in checked bags. I use my phone with offline maps to check hiking coordinates and will be out in the bush for many days at a time, so a power backup is imperative. My understanding is that Latam Air (next airline I fly) allows them in carryon, so after more wandering and some absurdly humorous pantomiming in a camera store, I found a Chinese brick which I hope will do the trick. The Voyage of the Beagle was fascinating; I had forgotten how much of it is about geology, which would contribute to his gradualist sensibilities. His speculations about the buildup of coral atolls inspires some more travel one day, but his complacency about the British Empire’s improvement of the unimproved world was disconcerting to say the least. Coffee midday at But First, Coffee was pure pleasure. A narrow shop with a sliding window open to the sidewalk where customers queue for expresso or ice cream. The other half of the space, separated by glass windows, is a barber shop. The sound system plays jazz (with large video screen) and the baristas alternate with the barbers, working with their appointed customers— each with their own perfectly trimmed beards. Generally everyone dances as they move between spaces. Spent part of the the afternoon working out my itinerary for the next few days, then wandered aimlessly about Lastarria—an amazing neighborhood—before arriving again at the Utopia Cafe, just watching the world pass by while the customers at the neighboring table commented (in jest) on my pale gringo skin. Spent evening eating in the restaurant district, reading Lucas Bridges’s Uttermost Part of the Earth (a story of Tierra Del Fuego) and watching the crowd ebb and flow. Tomorrow it is on to the southern reaches of Patagonia.

T. Hugh Crawford