I am Patagonia.

I slowly opened my eyes, wanting to make sure that it hadn’t disappeared. Tears were flowing, everything was blurred, but I could still see it. It was here and I could almost touch it. As grandiose and monumental as it had always been. The scintillating and smooth azure blue of the lake, the abyssal glaring blue of the sky and the deep dark green of the mountains dressed in pine trees. The air was crisp, silence was enveloping me with soft velvet hands and I was breathing in memories of past centuries.

I’ve traveled around the world for the past three years, but I never fell so deeply in love with a region of the world, as I did with Patagonia. I have never cried tears of despair when leaving a place before. I used to be detached and indifferent, saying my goodbyes as a spectator. Patagonia was different, Patagonia was unique. I could never just have been a simple observer. From the first day, from the first second, I was already all-in. I was part of the whole, Patagonia was me, I was Patagonia. As my tears were falling on the beach, adding dark patches to the white pebbles, as they were slowly blending with the water of the lake, I realized I was forever leaving a piece of me in Patagonia. I was also taking Patagonia with me. I closed my eyes again, trying to photograph the landscape for my souvenirs, hoping to never forget. Trying to focus on colors, smells, shapes and on the sound of silence, lines were blurring into new images, memories of the Patagonia I got to know, experience, live and feel — the real Patagonia, my very own Patagonia.

One blink. I’m swimming in the icy waters of the Magellan straight in a bikini, feeling the sun and thousands of piercing glacial pins on my skin, my feet sinking into the mud. One tear. I’m by the side of the road, alone. The cold embrace of the wind gets to my bones, trying to rob me from my cardboard sign. My thumb is up, my backpack is resting on the ground and I’m smiling at the road and the horizon. One thousand kilometers to go, barely any cars passing by, but I’m determined, I’m happy, I’m just here. One blink. White stones, white sand, white sun, white horizon, white heat and nothing else. The harshness of the road, the melancholy of a country and my feet walking on a never-ending path. Two blinks. Whales, guanacos, penguins, wild dogs, armadillos, flies, seals and a sense of global consciousness. Tears, so many tears. Smiling faces, taciturn ones, tanned ones, those which carry thousands years of history, welcoming ones and lucid eyes. One blink, one tear. Yellow, blue, red, white, black, yellow, green, blue, yellow, blue, blue, yellow. Tears, so many tears. Sunsets after sunsets, sunrises and an ever-changing landscape through kilometers and seasons, despite monotony, rock after rock, color after color, sky and ground joining into a horizon of infinity.

One last tear and I smile. Patagonia is me. I am Patagonia. Now and forever.