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Escape to Patagonia

Coping with coronavirus: a second letter from Rome

Patagonia Express finds a spot on the bookshelf. (Maria Rebecchini/YJI)

ROME – My favorite time during the day is when I am able to read my book. It happens early in the morning and late at night, but I am sure glad I am able to do it. Recently, I’ve gotten into adventure books, so I recently started and finished Luis Sepùlveda’s novel, Patagonia Express.

That’s the only way to feel like I’m living my life. I go out for half an hour a day. I take online classes each day. I clean the house and do my homework. I keep myself busy to not remind myself of how summer has finally arrived and I’m still stuck at home.

I feel an urge to get out of the house and experience it. So I turn to Hemingway, Salinger and Forster to get a glimpse of the outside world.

A few days earlier, my need to explore and distract myself spurred me to order a new book online, the Patagonia Express. I had heard great things about it, but I also wanted to get my hands on an adventure book, to escape from my monotonous days at home.

I unwrapped the package and dove onto my bed.

Maybe a trip to Patagonia will help distract myself, I thought.

Oh, boy, did I distract myself. I traveled through the Atacama, the driest desert on earth, I visited Ujina, on the most inhabited villages on the planet; I heard the most absurd stories from the natives. I learned how they think, how they eat and how they survive in the Tierra del Fuego, the “Land of Fire.”

As I looked out from my terrace onto the deserted streets, I wondered how those natives were doing right now, how they live their lived in Nature so far away from society and civilization, in one of the most dangerous and unpredictable places on Earth.

In Patagonia, there is only nature. The few villages that exist are made up of a few flimsy houses. Every man who lives there learns to live with nature, not against nature. It’s the same nature that I see in my backyard, only I barely consider it because I was born into a society that thinks it is more powerful that nature itself.

Well, now the roles have been reversed because society has stopped. But nature never stops. Society depends on nature, but nature doesn’t depend on society.

That’s the thought I considered while reading Patagonia Express, because, in the end, nature always wins. I like to think that in some respects I am living like a native in Patagonia is living, where nature has taken over and I’m a mere wanderer. There’s something exciting about living that way, and not knowing what comes next.

My books have shown me a new way to experience life and its adventures.

In a time when society has stopped and we are living in a limbo, I have never felt more alive.

Yesterday I started Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

Maria Dirce Rebecchini is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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