When do you know what you want? Ushuaia, Patagonia, Argentina

7 min reading

Quick summary:

Reading Time: 7 minutes

– Julia, I made a booking. It was accepted. Are we doing this? You want me to go on…?
Are we doing it or not?
– Julia, if we’re to carry on with it, you MUST come to the office NOW and sign the data on the credit card, as well as fill up all the insurance forms. When I say now, I mean NOW.
I did not tell anyone that I wanted to go to Antarctica. The only person who knew was Anna, my assistant, and that was because she helped me to search for information. Maybe one or two other people knew. The rest were shocked enough that I wanted to go to Patagonia.
– You? But you hate the cold! You’re running away from the cold, yet you’re flying to Patagonia? It’s not a #ChaseTheSunTrip if you’re flying to a cold place!
After I managed to convince everyone that MY huge sacrifice was because I really wanted to see the whales, people stopped looking at me like I’m crazy. I mean I was, but just a little bit. Everyone has their own crazies. I am famous for having loads of them.
And what next after the whales?
That was a very good question, one that I could not answer. I couldn’t, because I wasn’t sure what would be next. Also, I didn’t want to say what next, because I wasn’t sure whether I’d cope with that “next”.
– Then I’ll keep going down, to the place located nearest to Antarctica.
– No way… it will be really cold there.
– Exactly – that’s why I don’t know whether I’ll go there; I don’t know if I’ll manage.
– So how long will you be in  Patagonia?
– Well, It depends on how  cold it is there, and how it treats me. It won’t be easy, because I haven’t seen snow for years, but maybe I’ll survive?
I don’t know whether I was asking this question more to myself or the others. To these two or three people I added:
– Maybe I’ll be ok and I will be brave enough to go to  Antarctica… But I don’t know, if I can stand the fricken coldness of Patagonia… I am also not sure if I can survive on that ship as I suffer from  sea sickness… But… I’ll try. I will do my best.
Now I had a chance. Now I was already close. I couldnt be any any closer.
In my head, the last sentence of Danielle, the travel agent:
– Seguimos? Are we going further?
I don’t like cold… I hate winter sports. I hate winter jackets. I’ve never swam in the Baltic. Anything that makes me feel cold is not my friend. I’m cold even in the tropics! When everyone happily sighs that it’s finally a little bit colder, I scream: why has it gone so cold?!
– Are we going further? Are we going further? Seguimos? Seguimos?
This is the moment when I call everything off. Nothing will happen, nobody will suffer. Nobody will!
I put on trousers,  thermal leggings, a thermal jumper, two thermal t-shirts, a jacket, a scarf, a hat, and I left the house, stepping into the HORRIBLE  wind. God, I don’t know if I’m cold, but it’s definitely not pleasant…
Yesterday I asked Sergio, my host from Couch Surfing, if it was always so cold here.
– Of course not.. it’s so much colder. It’s summer now so the weather is nice.
– God, this is summer?  So will it be even colder in Antarctica?
And here that look again, which I know so well. As if I fell from the moon straight on somebody’s head.
– Julia, of course it will be in ANTARTICA, the coldest continent in the world. Here are the tropics comparing to what’s waiting for you there.
Seguimos? Seguimos? Are we going further?
I’m four kilometres away from the travel agency. Four kilometres to walk, four kilometres to back off. No one knows, no one will judge, and those who know would consider the fact that I didn’t go to Antarctica as something completely reasonable.
I didn’t tell anyone  on purpose. I have a problem with social pressure – even if no one says anything, in my head there is a huge debate. If anybody says something, if they were ironic – I could cope with it.  I could answer, explain, laugh it off. I could do a lot, but often no one says anything, so I start my own conversation.  There is no enemy, so I create my own enemy – myself. And I am even greater enemy than friend to myself  – not to be defeated, not to be beaten.  Once I get stuck on something – I don’t let go. I am so good at convincing myself that I cannot win with myself.
But even worse than the social pressure to not do something, is the pressure to do something. When everyone believes so much in your greatness and uniqueness that backing off means losing what is most pleasant – petting your own ego. The biggest pressure is about not wanting to deprive oneself of the pleasure of being brave, unique, and original.
So this time I decided to take care of not having any pressure, because… when nobody knows, nobody expects, nobody praises, nobody marvels, nobody compliments, nobody admires, when there is no admiration in the eyes looking at you – then you REALLY know what you want, then you make  YOUR OWN DECISION.
I wanted to make MY decision. I didn’t want to be somebody’s hero. I didn’t even want to be my own hero.
I wanted to win with my own ego.
I wanted to do what I really wanted
Do I want this or not?
When I was in Puerto Madrin, I started sharing my idea about visiting Antarctica. But for them it’s no fear – it is a dream they cannot afford, so it didn’t bring any emotions other than:
– You have no chances!!!! Girl, such things you plan one year ahead. There’s no way you will be able to go to Antartica.
A lot of teachings in  Buddhism is about  searching and following your own path. Once I asked one of the teachers how I should know that IT IS THAT PATH. He said:
– The obstacles will appear, but somehow they will solve themselves. Everything around you will be organized in a  way to help you to move forward. When you are on the right path, everything IN THE END goes well – the universe helps, even if it gives you some problems. Problems are there only to strengthen the motivation, to make you understand how much you care, so you can appreciate your path.
Everyone in Puerto Madrin , and I mean everyone, said I had no chance. They said that if I succeeded, this would mean that I had been born not under a lucky star, but under the luckiest of all the stars!
I arrive at Ushuaia on Thursday. Friday morning – the first agency. Last ticket for the boat that leaves in 15 days. I think to myself that I  dont really want to wait here so long, but if worse comes to worst…  I can do it. However, I had another problem; the guy in the agency isn’t nice. And I have one rule I’ve stuck to for years – I don’t do business with unkind people.  Regardless of whether this is about buying tickets or doing research or buying shoes, I don’t give and I don’t take money from people who aren’t kind.
So I think to myself that this is not for me, after all. It’s just a sign.. It will be too cold. That’s ok.
Sergio takes me out to dinner. While we are walking back home,  we enter one more agency (like Sergio saying: just in case – so you don’t have any regrets). There is the last ticket for the ship on Sunday. This means New Year among glaciers and penguins. Danielle, the owner of the agency, is nice and involved, but direct and straight-foward.
– Julia, I’m not joking. Last space. You have to decide NOW.
I try to negotiate the price with her.
– Julia, last space. If I don’t book immediately and send the documents, there are no chances for that place.
Danielle is to send all documents; I am to prepare the credit card and other details (e.g. insurance). And so its started… my test of how much I want it.
I cannot put the Polish SIM card into the iPhone. First I couldn’t find it for an hour, and now it doesn’t fit in. aaaaaaa! It’s night-time in Poland. There is no chance of any help. If I don’t change the card settings, the payment will not go through.
– Julia, there is only one chance. If the card does not go through, you will not be able to board the ship. They’ll only try once, so set it well and then cross your fingers. Because – I’ll be honest – it’s often unsuccessful. And we don’tt have another day to try. It’s this one Chance.
Danielle is an optimistic realist – she really wants it to be a success, but she really doesn’t want to have hysterical blond in the office if something goes wrong. I keep hearing in my head her voice: Hurry up. You have just one chance, and ,I cannot put the damn card into the phone.
I cannot do it. It doesn’t fit. I give up. It’s meant to be like this, it’s a sign. Never mind. I’m going to make a tea. I would die of cold anyway, so it’s probably good that it didn’t work.
– Julia, I think it’s working.
Sergio is more patient than I am. He manages to put this sim card in, parameters changed, insurance found.
Seguimos? Seguimos?
I almost reach the agency; there is a stunning view from Ushuaia – sea, ships, yachts, mountains, forest… Should I go? After all, I love the beach, warm sea… Is it a good idea? Antarctica – I am cold even when I think about it.
I remembered when this idea came into being. On Bali, when I was reading the biography of James Cook, my big idol, an explorer, who feared nothing and on the wooden ship, without GPS and computers, he sailed around the entire Antarctica. He was super unlucky, because the whole year the weather was so bad that he’d never noticed the continent. He sailed around the Antarctic and wentback home without even finding out that he made a trip to Antartica.
Ok, maybe I want to be like James Cook, but let’s face the truth – I am not a hero. I am not that strong. Cold sea sickeness – who am I kidding???
Seriously? You give up for that reason? The guy did whole trip without GPS and thermal underwear, and you are afraid of cold? Are you serious??
I had serious dialog with myself.
When nobody knows, nobody expects, when you are not afraid to disappoint anyone, when you don’t owe anything to anyone, when you are left face to face with yourself – you can answer what you want. I alone knew about the Antarctica. And I alone knew whether I wanted it.
Seguimos – we’re going further.
So there you go, it’s gone through
– The ship belongs to a Canadian company; it’s night-time there, so we’ll sort out nothing right now. I’ll let you know tomorrow whether you’re boarding on the ship.
9, 10, 12, 2, 3 on the clock. Still nothing is known. Finally, a phone call at 17:36.
Julia, it’s gone through. In two hours your ticket for the ship will be ready. Congratulations – you will spend the New Year among icebergs and penguins. You are really born under the lucky star.
I am.

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