Outlive the Bastards
One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.
— Edward Abbey
Writings from 30,000 ft, early February 2018
Though some more confused than others, people always look surprised to hear that I won’t be studying in Europe or Australia but rather in South America. Why Chile? Everyone seems to ask, their eyebrows scrunched together. And, as I sit back in my airplane seat, embarking on a journey to a small port city on Chile’s lengthy coast, the question deserves an answer.
What the well-rehearsed response about never having traveled to South America and desiring to learn Spanish leaves out, however, is a quote from Edward Abbey included above. Truth be told, it is what started it all.
I had no idea where I would study abroad just months before the decision needed to be made; I found myself quite literally looking at a map of the world in an attempt to narrow it down with little time to make up my mind. When I heard the quote for the first time one summer night, it jumped out to me in a way few others have. I quickly scribbled it down and later printed it out so I could tack it to the wall of my bedroom. Above all, I thought about it constantly for weeks – about the metaphorical battle Abbey outlined and what a victory really was.
So why couldn’t get I get it out of my head? It took time to internalize, but the answer was a fear of becoming “the bastard” that Abbey speaks of. The New Hampshire boy who grew up exploring the woods throughout all four seasons, from the stream in the backyard to summits in the Whites, to just about any ski mountain on the East Coast, was slowly being hypnotized. Rigorous classes and a competitive atmosphere idealized high-paying jobs and led to endless hours staring at a computer screen each day, undoubtedly desk-bound.
Abbey preaches to “keep your brain in your head and head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive,” and I was losing this. Located in the baron Midwest with more than enough school work, my body was more lifeless with each passing day. Yet, I had one free chance at a revival – my semester abroad.
So the search began, and thanks to Abbey I knew I was looking for somewhere that I could bag peaks and explore forests, separating myself from those headed towards cubicles. All that was left was to choose a place. With a world map unfolded in front of me, it was time to make some decisions.
Europe didn’t have enough of the outdoor aspect, so there went a big chunk of options. New Zealand certainly offered the adventures, but I’d already been, and its close neighbor Australia seemed too modernized and culturally similar to the States. I always had a lingering desire to put all my high school Spanish to use, which then shifted my sights to South America.
Brazil was crossed off the map due to its use of Portuguese; Buenos Aires grabbed my attention but research told me it paralleled Paris and failed to offer access to many local outdoor adventures. But Chile, voted the number one adventure tourism destination in the world, peaked my interest.
So I began looking at Santiago, just as most would, but a busy city was exactly what I was running from. With a few more hours of research the twin cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar stuck out like a sore thumb. Beautiful, located on the water, and a hub for outdoor activities and weekend trips - I had found my place.
So a small port city in Chile it is, and you can be damn sure my body will be active and alive for the next five months. From the Atacama Desert in Chile’s Northern tip to Parque Patagonia in the deep South and everything in between, I will certainly be enjoying the land and encountering the grizz.
And so, while I receive questions and strange looks from some of my wary peers, I plan to outlive the bastards hypnotized by computers and paychecks, as I put outdoor adventure and self-discovery above all.
Stay tuned for more.
FEATURED EDITOR: Evan Ruderman
In his home state of New Hampshire, Evan dedicates his time to hiking the many peaks in the area and photographing the beauty that surrounds. He is currently based out of Viña Del Mar, Chilé kicking ass as he bags peaks, climbs faces, and cruises waves. Keep your eyes peeled for more written and visual projects from Evan in the coming months.
His Goodland: Hills of Old New Hampshire
Sport: Climbing and Snowboarding
Mountains or Ocean: Mountains
Hunter or Gatherer: Gatherer
Favorite Camp Food: Tinfoil dinners, a no brainer