Maybe it was the thought of freedom from the job for a few weeks that got my adrenaline pumping, maybe it was the idea of being away from civilization or maybe it was the mystique of a new continent, but when the plane landed at Comandante Armando Tola International Airport something had changed. I was in Patagonia. I didn’t know it at the time, but my six days in Patagonia were going to be the beginning of an adventure that would catapult me into the most amazing phase of my life to date. I started being a human living instead of simply a human being.
I was with a few classmates from my Executive MBA program, but they were not friends. They had all been part of a group during school and had spent eighteen months together bonding and forming deep friendships with one another that would long outlive our MBA program. I was an outsider. I had heard a few months earlier that they were planning to take a few extra days ahead of the class to go explore part of Patagonia before we needed to be in Buenos Aires and I inserted myself into their clique and began planning our Patagonia trip together.
The air was different here. We stepped into the glaring sun and a persistent wind and looked for a car that could bring the five of us into town where we would be staying for the next few days. There were three cars for hire and four groups of people needing them. We had just been indoctrinated into the world of International Business over the last eighteen months of school and told over and over again how “American” we were in the eyes of the world. Although all five of us were dominant type-A personalities, we did not rush the three cars for hire and instead found ourselves alone on the curb wondering when more cars would arrive. After a thirteen hour red-eye ride from Atlanta to Buenos Aires, crossing town to the regional airport and another four-hour flight, I was exhausted, hungry, uncharacteristically quiet and anxious to begin my journey. What I failed to realize, however, was that my journey had already begun. The vast space of Patagonia and the wide open plains of El Calafate surrounded me and the huge pale blue sky overhead stretched forever. After a half hour or so, more cars arrived and we piled our suitcases into them and left for our hotel.
The first thing you notice when you are in Patagonia is the wind. It never stops.