Hey guys, this is Bruce, sorry I haven’t been able to contact anyone in a while, many things have happened.
It’s October 2016 now and we are 6 months into our South American trip, I decided to take Bong Gu on a trip of a lifetime, from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska, on foot.
Why to Alaska? What’s there? Nothing really, and the trip is purely for volunteering, self-indulging ourselves and accomplish a lifetime dream, you know as we get older we start questioning ourselves and what are we doing with our lives. I want to be the person that can tell my grandchildren, if I ever have them, that I did something interesting and memorable with my life, that when I was young I walked from Argentina to Alaska, with my dog. And if they ask why, I will explain it was just the right thing for me to do at the time, and sometimes we just have to do what we have to do and there’s no way around it. As simple as that.
We are now about to cross the Atacama desert, and taking it relatively slowly, some days we walk 30 km, some 40 and some we don’t walk at all.
No major problems so far, the only nuisance is condensation at night, but my bivy is holding up relatively well, now for those of you who don’t know, a bivy sac is kind of like a tent but is also kind of like a sleeping bag, or like a cocoon where you sleep at night watching the stars without having to worry about insects, police, rain, cold, snow, people discovering your tent and murdering you in your sleep, or stuff like that.
it’s really the only option when you want to experience nature to its fullest and still be able to have a good night sleep. I tried to get Bong Gu inside it with me but it was just too cramped and tight for her, so now I have a small piece of cardboard for her that I put next to me for insulation and a poncho to wrap around her during cold nights, she uses my bag as a pillow and comes closer to me for safety and warm, and we both sleep better knowing we are there for each other.
The first few weeks were tough for her, so we took it slow, we would walk 2 or 3 days and then take a day off, now after a few months we can walk at least 25km every day and then she gets a huge dinner and a good 10 to 12 hour sleep. I make sure she sleeps at least 10 hours a day and she seems comfortable with that arrangement so far.
99% of people are just super friendly, they want to talk to me, a lot, and ask heaps of questions, we often get invited for meals and staying in their houses, I don’t think we have ever rejected a meal so far, I give Bong Gu the meat and eat myself the rest of the stuff we are given, and sometimes I also eat some meat when there just isn’t anything else. And we usually accept invitations to sleep indoors, even though sometimes I really don’t feel like socializing and answering the same questions over and over again, I still accept, mostly because of the chance to take a shower.
We have seen and done some amazing things, met some amazing people and every day that goes by, I am more and more convinced that this is the right way to live my life and I made the right choices through up my life, most of the times.
Many people tell me that I am so brave or that they wish they could do what I’m doing, I don’t think I am in a position to give anyone advice on how to live their lives, so I just nod and listen to them. I can teach English to them and their kids, I can tell them some funny stories about my trip and the people I met on the way, I can let them play with Bong Gu, and listen to them, I can do the dishes or cook some meal for them, help them clean around the house as a way to say thank you for putting me up for the night, but I’m not gonna go around telling people to give up their lives, quit their jobs, abandon all their friends and families and go travel or go for their dreams.
On occasions though, I would tell someone who really wants to do that, so I am happy to share with them what I learned on the way and give them some advice about how to find work, food, shelter in different countries, or how to live without money or making money when you can’t speak the language, don’t have any special skills and don’t have a working visa.
But I don’t tell them that I am ashamed of living in a world where people are punished for working or trying to make a living honestly and I think people should be allowed to work and travel anywhere they wished to, without the need of visas or passports. That I can’t tell anyone because it’s too difficult for them to understand. What I can do is tell them how to get all this visas and passports, how to make fake police clearances, university degrees, invitation letter, health certificates, hotel and plane reservations, how to tell immigration officers what they want to hear and how to trick the system into letting you live your life in a peaceful, non-wasteful and honorable way without getting arrested or punished in the process.
As I told my grandkids, we have to do what we have to do, and sometimes what we have to do requires us breaking a bunch of rules and laws in the process, that is alright, as long as you don’t get caught and as long as you live by and respect your own moral standards.
A both, good and simple moral code to live by would be the following 4 rules:
1) All life is sacred: must protect those who are at disadvantage or can’t speak up for themselves, such as women, children, the poor, the animals. Can’t eat the animals unless there is no other choice, can’t cause any kind of harm to any person or animal, not physically, psychologically or verbally, not even in self-defense, violence is never an option.
2) Can’t cause some problem or inconvenience others.
3) Must try to minimize our footprint on the environment as much as possible
4) Must help other if you’re able to.
What do I miss about China? The language for sure, you know when you leave a country, it takes a while to stop thinking in that country’s language and start using a new one. It takes at least a few months just to feel comfortable using a different language than the one you’ve been using for the last few years. And I kind of miss not having to worry about money, getting a good meal for 1 or 2 dollars, as here in Argentina everything costs like 10 times more and is not really worth it.
What I miss the least is definitely the smokers in the elevator in my building, that’s definitely the number one thing I hate about China, all the other things I kind of tolerated them or ended up getting used to them.
What’s the best about being 24 hours a day on the go? the first few months you feel alive and enjoy every second, but after a while you get saturated and enter in a state of constant culture shock, can’t even enjoy the beauty anymore, and you fall into the routine of walking, finding food, finding a place to hide for sleeping, then walking again and so on.
Is it tiring? For sure, but you get used to it as well after a few months, at the beginning I was thinking every day about getting a bicycle, a motorbike or starting hitchhiking and took some effort to talk myself into not doing it and convince myself this is the way to go, especially because I have already traveled a lot by other means but this is something new, something unforgettable. We must keep walking no matter what, it’s just what we need to do right now.
With so much time to think, we can’t avoid thinking about the future, after Alaska what? We are not control-freaks that need to have our whole life planned otherwise we would feel scared or insecure, whatever has to happen will happen, and new experiences are always welcome. But it doesn’t hurt to dream when you have plenty of free time and nothing to worry about. finding a job and settling down? Yes maybe, someday, in Russia for sure, but can’t let the dreams about the future spoil me today’s adventure, today’s a precious day.
Bruce & Bong Gu