21 Days at the Confines of the World
“TIERRA DEL FUEGO“
The extreme South of America has always surprised thousands of people around the world for its beautiful and magic. Tierra del Fuego (Fireland) is the cradle of one of the most beautiful and mystic peoples that has lived isolated from the world for thousands of years and has learned over the centuries to worship and love Nature in its most precious sense. They extracted from it not only their subsistence, but also the precious wisdom that allowed them to connect with the divine greatness and forces that rule the Universe.
Its ancestral name was Karukinka (Our Land), as it was called originally. However, with the arrival of the first navigators, it was attributed the nickname of Tierra del Fuego. At first, it was believed to be Volcanic Islands, because from them sprouted huge columns of smoke that almost touched the sky. But when they got closer, they discovered that in that inhospitable mazy of islands, people made fires and kept them on uninterruptedly, in order to spend most of the time near them to upbear the extreme cold in that far-off part of the planet .
The main character is a dreamer who seeks for the secrets of life, lives it in a contemplative way and does not find happiness living in the usual way. Meet in a group of friends who usually climb mountains on weekends a fellow who presents a partner to make a long dreamed pilgrimage trip to Tierra del Fuego.
This partner, whose name was Juan, would be an engineer of Hungarian origin who lived in Buenos Aires and was around 50 years old. He was descended from a family of adventurers who pioneered Tierra del Fuego in the early 20th century and had inherited from his grandfather a box with several photos and a map that contained information about the existence of a Sacred Path in the extreme south of America. So, they wanted to find it and follow him. This path would lead them to the last inhabited spot on the planet before Antarctica, a small and forgotten settlement called Puerto Toro and which had no more than 33 people, located in Cabo de Hornos – Chile.
Unfortunately Juan cancels his gone only 1 day before the beginning of the trip, but he appeals to the traveler not to give up, but to face this unexpected as a small initial challenge given to someone who wanted to reach to where no man had ever come. As a way to compensate, he indicate him a childhood friend, a descendant of the Fueguin People, that must meet him in the city of El Calafate (Argentinian Lakes Region), where is possible to find some of the largest glaciers in the world. This guide will accompany him during part of the trip, alternating with other guides, all of them descending from the ancestors of Tierra del Fuego.
It is in the region of the Argentine Lakes that the Sacred Way begins towards the End of the World, being its extension divided between Chile and Argentina, passing by places like Torres del Paine, Puerto Natales, Milodón Cave, Punta Arenas, Fuerte Bulnes, Porvenir, Lake Fagnano, Ushuaia, state of Harberton and finally the mysterious Navarino Island – the true “End of the World”, one of the most mysterious, mystical and still untouched places on the planet, and exactly where in the 60s the last Fuegian took refuge.
While traveling through the Sacred Ways of Tierra del Fuego, the traveler is led to magical places and remarkable characters, who share precious stories about the ancestral peoples of Tierra del Fuego and their Ancient Wisdom. By throwing himself body and soul into the unknown, he experiences the true human potential and come across to the secrets of the soul, the universe, and himself.
Along the Sacred Ways, the traveler and his descendant guides of ancestors pass through small towns and villages, and the narrative of history is presented in a chronological sequence of time and space all the principal places and persons that were important in the discovery and development of these places, as well as the traumatic outcome of the Fuegian Ancestral People who lived isolated from the world for more than 10.000 years.
Fueguinos inhabited the last territorial part of the South of America, below the Strait of Magellan, and nature itself imposed their isolation, having to live in an extremely inhospitable environment and having to find a way to seek wisdom and happiness, even living in a such precarious way.
Although they were canoeists, the existing sea in the extreme south of America is the worst sea of the planet, because it is the junction of the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. On land, if they chose to go up to the continent, they would have to cross Patagonia Desert, one of the largest desert in the world and the lowest demographic density on the planet, extremely cold, freezing temperatures, which until today its crossing is considered practically impossible. Such conditions forced them to live isolated in an inhospitable environment. However, on the other hand, the isolation allow to develop their culture with no human intervention, giving to them a peculiar way to look on life, God and the Universe .
They considered the existence of a unique God and a feminine Universe, believing that God and the Universe were the image and likeness of woman, the only being capable of generating life. Therefore, everything that came from life, came from something feminine.
They had in their culture a kind of Secret Society, which they met mysteriously in a place called “Hain,” held to them as the “only place in the Universe where the Gods could meditate in Peace.” They dressed up as deities of the universe and their identities were secret. In its early days it was a matriarchal society, whose knowledge until nowadays are sources of inspiration and speculation, for it was imputed to wise women the power to manipulate elements of nature.
In 1923 the German Missionary and Anthropologist Martin Gusinde recorded what would have been the preparations for the last secret ceremony. A little later, Anne Chapmann (North American Ethnologist) recorded with the last pure descendants the Mantras sung in their Ceremonies. Very curiously, the Secret Society was composed of 33 members and had 33 mantras. This work allowed him to receive the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Magalhães in Chile by the year 2003.
Members from Secret Society of Hain
Picture by the Missionary and Anthropologist Martin Gusinde in 1923
Their wisdom was so deep and wise, living in an environment so scarce of resources that even today intrigues anthropologists and scientists worldwide. The first missionaries sent to Tierra del Fuego, by examples of Alberto di Agostini and Martin Gusinde, left their mission behind and inserted in their culture to try to understand them.
In the 1960s, the Fueguino people were declared extinct, and there was an effort of anthropologists to locate and reallocate the last 50 descendants that remained of their culture on the last island inhabited before Antarctica, which is called Navarino Island – Chile. It is worth to mention that Navarino Island is precisely the point where Charles Darwin landed in 1833 and stayed there until 1835, elaborating his studies and Theory of Evolution of Species. Darwin lived with the Fuegians for about three years while English Captain Robert Fitzroy mapped the existing Islands in the Far South of America.
Today there is only one single person of pure blood left by Fueguin People, named Cristina Calderón, Chilean, currently 87 years old (2016). In addition to being venerated by her people, in 2003 she was declared a living and immaterial patrimony of humanity by Unesco and in 2016 she was elected National Heroine of Chile. Throughout the book, Cristina Calderón inspires one of the main characters of the history and that is part of the Secret Society who guards the mysteries and secrets of its people. It was given the name of Virgínia for her (as a way to pay homage Virgínia Choquintel, the last pure-blood descendant of the Fueguines of the Selk’nam ethnic group who inhabited the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego).
However, traveling all these sacred ways and learning from the ancestors the secrets of the Universe, the traveler did not know that everything was a plan devised by Juan, who was the Master within what was left of the Secret Society of the Tierra del Fuego, And his guides were nothing more than the Guardians of the Paths and the Secrets and who helped him to keep them secretly, revealing them only to those who were considered worthy to receive them.
Finally, the traveler meets Juan at the end of the Way, who was waiting for him at the last inhabited spot, where they held the mysterious Secret Ceremonies, and where the traveler is invited not only to participate in a Secret Ceremony, but also to be part of the Secret Society, receiving from them a name of baptism and thus becoming one of the Guardians of the Sacred Way and the Secret Society of Tierra del Fuego.
(Text above translated to the English by the author Henry Jenné)
To be continued…
The story has an independent continuation that can be read together or in separated (in the phase of publication), also a story of adventure and fiction based on real facts, about another people who lived in isolation from the world and surrounded by mysteries in South América.