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Patagonia: Land under Sky

Patagonia: Land under Sky

March, 2008

The bus rolls along the smooth, narrow ribbon of pavement. Beside the highway, a thin wood and wire fence parallels our journey across the plains. They are unchanging, the land, the fence; unbroken by any other roads or rivers. Small groups of tall trees sparsely dot the horizon. They turn grey with the distance and the approaching rain. Towering clouds cast shadows across the land, but not here, not yet. Here, the sun still shines.

PatagoniaI am on Las Pampas, the grasslands. It is a pastoral vista of endless open sky and vast herds of grazing cattle. I have not seen so much level land in many years. I am familiar with the low, bamboo-green mountains of Korea where the sky is not so wide and the distances, not so great. I feel cast upon an ocean of openness. It is unsettling to be adrift with out boundaries except the thin, grey–brown fence that strings out to the horizon. The bus, now a sliver of light, slips through the night.

PatagoniaSouth of Las Pampas lies Patagonia, a raw wilderness of low scrub brush were barren, brown rocks replace the trees. Like Las Pampas, it too has an endless sky but these wind-swept clouds promise no rain. Everything is brown and there is a constant breeze that gusts and brings up clouds of dust. The dust thins but never settles. Remnants become tangled in the brush like torn curtains in a broken window.

Then the ocean appears. At first it is no more than a small, dark blue expanse at the corner of a sand dune but then it spreads out completely, to where the world curls out of sight in the east. I watch the thin-lined horizon between ocean and sky. I see tiny whitecaps spilling along the surface form into waves that wash onto land.

There is a balance here that is not easily discovered. The sheer vastness of the three elements hides this place’s simple truths. The waves, the dust and the wind all distract from the perfect merging of ocean, land and sky. It is only when you sit silently watching it all that the truth emerges.


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