Bruce Chatwin not only gives an account of his adventures, but he also uplifts it with migrant characters who, for a variety of reasons, find some shelter in this inhospitable site at the end of the world.

Photo Bruce Chatwin – Argentine Patagonia

AUTHOR

Argentina on the go

CATEGORY

Activities

PUBLISHED

Jun 15th, 2021

SOCIAL

argentinaonthego
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vershadowed by the work of travel influencers, tourist promotion agents and even that of “celebrities” who yield millions of dollars sharing their adventures on channels like YouTube, travel writers have been pushed into the background. However, many of their accounts became an icon of literature, and with good reason: without the aid of the Internet, these model authors managed to immortalize their stories using their imagination, descriptive skills and magic accounts to create masterpieces.

And even when “being connected” gives us the feeling that we “know it all”, it is actually thanks to the curiosity of scientists, adventurers and writers that we have come to discover new destinations. To take an example, it was only in 1913, following Hiram Bingham´s research, that the world first learnt about Machu Picchu in a publication of the National Geographic magazine.

And although we may be only one click away from the most amazing sceneries around the planet, many other sites still await to become the epic of new adventurers. Our protagonist today, Bruce Chatwin, was born back in 1940, and in spite of the great variety of versions of his motives for traveling Patagonia, the mysticism of history chooses one conversation he had with designer and architect Eileen Gray, which would eventually persuade him into a memorable journey.

Photo Bruce Chatwin – Argentine Patagonia

During such interview, Mr. Chatwin, while discussing one of her paintings, commented: “I´ve always wanted to visit Patagonia”. To which the 93-year-old artist replied: “So have I. Do me a favor. Go there for me”. One famous telegram (“I am leaving for Patagonia”) recaps in those 5 words the wish of a man eager to discover the world and reach one of the most remote locations on earth. Who could have thought that even so long after his journeys his work would remain one of the most exceptional accounts about this enchanting place.

Journalist, photographer and Professor Hernan Mazza ratifies that in his review of the author´s masterpiece: “Mr. Chatwin´s book, in my opinion, should become compulsory reading for all those who plan to travel to this region. Mr. Chatwin excels in his descriptions of the landscape, characters, descendants of settlers, prisoners and so on, all of which were and still are part of Patagonia”.

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For Mr. Mazza “In Patagonia” represents the region and he strongly recommends its reading before setting off on a trip to this part of Argentina. “He offers an accurate perspective…I mean, he reflects the reality and history- based on what he is told- of the region much more successfully than journalists and native writers”, he states. To make a long story short, the adventurer who reads this book should be ready to be taken on a magical tour around the south of the continent from a unique perspective.

Bruce Chatwin

Book “In Patagonia” Bruce Chatwin

And he finally reached Patagonia…

Bruce Chatwin not only gives an account of his adventures, but he also uplifts it with migrant characters who, for a variety of reasons, find some shelter in this inhospitable site at the end of the world. Many have come to Patagonia to get away from it all, to live new experiences, to live in exile…and ironically, by the effect of the landscape, they end up face to face with the true “Tierra del Fuego” (Fire Land): a land that rekindles your spirit and reconnects you with your own desires.

When he addresses the environment, he describes it harshly, as a place difficult to tame, “a land of no one and of everyone”, where outcasts seek to survive. In his account he implies that it takes guts to discover that, and that the brave explorers are eventually greatly rewarded. Visitors turn out to be captivated: there lies a new beginning, before the vastness of the environment.

“It was this trip that enticed me into traveling around other continents. You become addicted to desolate places, full of strange myths and legends. For instance, reading about the Templars in Patagonia led me to an interest in the history of the different places that is not usually told while on traditional trips. It is the combination of flora, fauna, sceneries and legends that make conventional trips look different”, adds photographer Hernán Mazza.

Bruce Chatwin’s Patagonia Trip

Argentina´s literary treasure

According to the World Cities Culture forum, Argentina is the country with the most bookstores in the world. This record is ratified by the number of bookstores per inhabitant (25 of them every 100,000 persons). For this reason, we have compiled a number of literary works that will also take you on a trip to the south of this continent.

  • Patagonia Blanca by Germán Sopeña
  • Patagonia de puño y letra by Mario Markic
  • Misteriosa Argentina 1 y 2 by Mario Markic
  • Diario de la Patagonia – Charles Darwin
  • Vagando por la Patagonia – Julius Beerbohm
  • Expedición a la Patagonia – Giacomo Bove
  • Andes Patagónicos – Alberto De Agostini

And if you wish to delve deeper into our literature or into works from different countries, you may stop by Ateneo, which is considered as the most beautiful bookstore on Earth by prestigious magazines and cultural organizations like National Geographic. Ateneo was built on the old theatre Grand Splendid, a place where the magic, elegance and splendor all around the place turn this bookstore into a must see highlight while visiting Buenos Aires.