Drawing: Member from Secret Society of Tierra del Fuego
inhabited the Tierra del Fuego, as well as to
their spirits, who still live there and allowed
me to walk through their Sacred Ways.
I thank the Argentine and Chilean Armed Forces, especially their Gendarmeiros and Carabineiros, who from the earliest times have performed the noble task of guarding the lives and safety of those ones who move through their Southern Lands.
……..My sincere and eternal thanks to Mrs. Cristina Calderón – who inspired me for the character Virginia – for having welcomed me so kindly in her house, as well as to Luis Gómes Zárraga, her grandson – who inspired me for the character Raul. Luis lovely and gently guide me to the lands inhabited by his Yámana Ancestors and the Yámana Cemetery at Bahia Mejillones, in the Navarino Island.
……..I am also grateful for all ones who contributed in some way to the improvement of the book.
……..Finally, my thanks and admiration for Severiá Maria Idioriê Xavante, a Brazilian Indian from Karajá and Javaé ethnicity, who inspired me to write the personal story of Halimink, one of the characters in the book. Severiá, your life history is beautiful and I hope that the difficulties that exist will never make him give up the fight for the right to exercise the difference of thought and cultural expression of your People.
Spirits from Tierra del Fuego – Member from Secret Society of Hain
t has always been my desire to help people find a better way in this world, to better explore their lives and feelings. But for this ,I had to experience some trials and identify in myself what really hurts us so much, as well as what motivates us to live and our main weaknesses and virtues.
Therefore, I believed there was nothing better to experience in the skin what I wanted so much than to experiment the crossing of a desert, that is, something similar to what Christ experimented at a certain moment of his brief passage through this world.
His apostles also lived this experience, and due of their faith in what they believed in, they were able to complete successfully the mission of taking to the four corners of the world the truth about life and the real human essence.
Likewise, many other pilgrims and adventurers also received some sort of “calling” at some point of their lives and set out in search of the truth about life and about themselves in an attempt to overcome the limits of the body, but above all, of the spirit and soul.
However, I only needed one single thing: to hear my inner voice tells me: Your time has come! Come, face me, and see how far you can go!
The possibility of live this experience has always been very strong in me, since my childhood, but started to consume me in a fraction of dropper over the last few years, becoming with each passing day more and more suffocating.
Right after I was 40 I finally heard my calling and decided to face myself, hoping to find what I believed in my entire life, and that would be waiting for me along the way.
At that time the first question arose: what would be my desert? Would I have to leave everything behind and make a pilgrimage in search of some place on the other side of the world? Should I have to cross the vast Sahara desert or any other place that could serve as the stage for my long-dreamed immersion?
And how would it all be? Would I need a lot of money? Should I go out there just in the face and the courage and take with me just enough to keep me alive?
The answers for all these questions was: No!
First of all, because I did not want to, and it was not my goal to go through any conditions of intense suffering, unless the emotional and psychological wear out that would naturally occur as the days went by.
Secondly, since the beginning, I had created a resistance by the idea of treading ways already so worn out by the man throughout his history. In short, I wanted a new path in which I could have certain security and enable me to experience what I considered to be the most important of experience: to prove absolute solitude and my ability to move forward undependently of the situations that would occur naturally and, above all, test my faith and make my personal meeting with God.
All desert is an arid region, covered or not by a blanket of sand, in which the presence of life is almost null. A desert can also be a lost island or a place little frequented, lonely or even abandoned. Before these definitions I was able to wide my options of choice in relation to the place.
After reading and researching about various deserts around the world, I opted for the extreme south of America, specifically for crossing the Tierra del Fuego region (divided between Argentina and Chilean) and finalizing my pilgrimage in the place known as the “End of the World”. It was in this inhospitable and deserted region that I decided to live my experience and challenge myself, meditating and reflecting daily, with every step I could take.
I also tried to reflect on my role as a human being in a world that is already so weak and meaningless, as much in relation to one’s own life as in relation to our existence as a whole.
With regard to the theological sense of the theme of “Crossing a Desert,” I tried to understand, before leaving, why this experience fascinates us so much at the same time frightens us? I think it fascinates us because it brings us back to the idea of the search for self-knowledge, for the power and self-control over oneself, and for the full attainment of the faith that keeps us going on. On the other hand, it is an experience that also terrifies us, because it symbolizes the fight for survival, mystery, pain and agony, but especially the fear of solitude.
In any case, fascinating or frightening, I have always believed that in inhospitable places or deserts, life and the inner light find means to sprout in its most precious sense. This is mainly due to the difficulties and dangers that exist along the way, as well as the need to move on, at all costs.
The possibility of receiving glory by conquering not only a path, but itself, finding or surpassing the limits of body and spirit, is extremely motivating and enriching.
It is also possible that deserts are precious fields to find inner healing and where human grandeur manifests itself in the most spontaneous and expressive way. And why not to believe that life (inwardly) springs from situations or places where there is almost no presence of life (outwardly)?
Before this, and facing positively the experience, I gave myself wholeheartedly to what I intended to live, and I encourage everyone who hears their calling to do the same.
Along the way I learned how life becomes simple from the moment we take the first step in search of the true essence that it is composed. In the same way, we become more patient and secure individuals when we realize that we can live with far less than we imagine, before the immense burden of useless and meaningless things we carry throughout our precious days of life. Becoming aware of these truths makes us live in a simpler and more generous way with everything and everyone around us, and to see God as well in the brightness of a star as in the simple glow contained in the eyes of a child.
I can say that the desert is a great place to find our answers and ask new questions to a higher level of consciousness so that we can continue with our ongoing development. It is also a way of finding and preparing ourselves better for our brief passage through this world and discovering our true role as beings belonging to a single and infinite universe.
Finally, I believe that facing the own desert is not often a distant place full of mysteries and secrets. We also face small deserts every day, sometimes without even leaving our homes, trying to find In the midst of the whirlwind of our lives the answers to the questions that suffocate us so much.
Certainly the questions will not be the same for each person, because each one of us have our own doubts and know exactly what we need or should look for, here or there.
Mask used in Secret Cerimonies of Hain
ccording to the history, around the year 1300 before the Christian Era there was the first miracle that I consider to be the “miracle of the desert.” This miracle was magnificent, because it raised the consciousness of a people based on the experiences lived in an immense emptiness. The experience I am referring to has led large numbers of people to emerge from slavery in Egypt and wander for about 40 years among vast deserts of sand, essentially seeking for a new place to settle down and start over.
Although it was absolutelly not easy, this long walk through nothingness, in search of a new place and a new identity, initite a process of maturation in that people. But, above all, in what was meant by faith.
It was a learning process in which people very different from each other were forced to live together and organize themselves as a new group of people. If any of us seek more information about this episode in history, we may come to the conclusion that it was the 40 years of pilgrimage in the desert that formed the People of Israel.
After came the famous experience lived by Christ, who received a call and decided to face His desert for 40 days, completely stripping himself of his divinity and facing all his doubts, fears, desires or illusions. That is, everything that still prevented him from following his path towards the light.
Given this context, the desert becomes, above all, a mythical place, very symbolic, and that inevitably in one or another way we will need to cross someday, whether we decide to seek for it or it decides to meet us at a certain stage of our life .
A desert is not only a place in space where it is difficult to find life, but also a place where easily show up our pains, crises, selfishness, etc. A place where we learn at all costs that we do not have the power for everything in this world, nor to dominate the natural forces that govern life and the universe.
In order to walk in a desert, it is necessary to first undress our self and surrender to the hands of God, trusting and interacting with Him at all time if we want to hear the answers to our doubts and find the signs that will lead us safely along the way . Without His constant presence it is practically impossible to obtain the precious spiritual food for body and soul and to overcome loneliness, fear and doubt.
And why did I choose Tierra del Fuego as “my” desert?
When I was four I traveled with my parents to the extreme south of America, where we left the city of Santiago de Chile by car, passing through the cities of Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas, crossing the Strait of Magellan and going straight to the city Known as “The End of the World” (Ushuaia). At that time, around 1964, the roads were very bad, especially those ones who existed near the southern end of the continent, where the final part of the Andes Mountains became very difficult the crossing of the final region of Tierra del Fuego. Andes Mountais crosses The Big Island from east to west going towards the end of the continent, ending by the Atlantic Ocean. The roads today have improved a lot, but they are still extremely deserted, allowing us to drive long stretches without the presence of any other car in both directions of the highway.
I remember that at a certain height of the way we had to stop the car to change one of the tires that had gotten flat.
At that the time our car was a four-door Chevrolet Opala, sky blue, black top with a huge chrome iron grid on the top, used to carry suitcases and other belongings, leaving the inner of the vehicle with more space and comfort. Later, talking and reminding with my parents about our adventure, I knew that the trip was in celebration of their third year of marriage.
It was around November, and winter had extended longer that year, making the tops of the mountains still largely covered with snow. My father had just acquired the car and it was his dream to cross the Garibaldi Passage, famous for being the only passage in the Fuegian Andes in the austral part and final portion of the Andes Mountains that could successfully be crossed.
Although a new highway was built (completed around 1970), mainly destined to the outflow of the industrial production of the free zone existing in the region of Ushuaia, the old dirt road still remains, snaking several points of the new highway that came to be called “Camino Nuevo”.
At the highest point on both roads (the old dirt road and the new asphalted), more specifically where the two meet and become one, there is a simple landmark memorial called “Paso Garibaldi” honoring the first passage of a private car to cross the Austral Andes Mountains, thus marking the opening of the road in November 1956. A 1920s Buick pickup truck owned by a gentleman named Julio Canga was the first private vehicle to make the crossing, a fact that definitely marked the link between Tte city of Rio Grande and Ushuaia.
Two days after the opening of the road (still a dirt road) a north-american tourist from Alaska repeated the feat, making the passage with his amphibious Jeep and becoming the first tourist to cross the end of the Andes Mountains by car.
It is worth mentioning that the name given to “Paso Garibaldi” does not refer to the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi, but to Raul Garibaldi Honte, the son of a native from indian trible haush named Luisa Honte with the Italian José Stroppa. Raul was an employee of a local town hall and was also known by the nickname of “Paka”, its native name.
It was he who, from Lake “Escondido” (near the city of Ushuaia), intensely prospected a natural passageway over the mountain range and that by the year 1936 would become the first street used as a link between the rest of the continent and the “end of the world”. According to the history, I found reference that it was his mother who told him about the existence of an ancient road used many and many years ago by the Selk’nam Indians to cross the mountains. This road served as a guide to the prospection of the road.
It is very important to mention that Garibaldi still remains to this day as the only point of land connection between the rest of the continent and the city of Ushuaia.
Returning to the stop we made on the trip, I remember that my father took the heavy work, while my mother just stood beside him telling funny things and also singing for distraction. My mother had a beautiful voice and we loved to hear her singing.
Meawhile, I felt free to get out of the car and look at the shrubs and the flat and distant terrain that stretched toward a glorious range of mountain that lay deep in the horizon. The bushes were not so scarce and had a golden color, slightly brownish, typical of the dryness suffered by the recently winter. It was the beautiful Patagonian steppe.
At the end of the horizon there was a perfect fusion between the colors of the land and the colors of the mountains, forming a single thick brown strip. In spite of the freezing air, the sky was a deep blue and the mountain range seemed to possess an endless shades of brown. Its towers gleamed in the brightness of the sun, and each one had different shapes and sizes.
After some moments looking toward the horizon, I noticed that one of the shrubs next to the car moved in a different way, suggesting the presence of some animal. To my surprise it was a fat and gray rabbit who, standing behind the bush, stopped and stared at my direction.
Since I was still very young, I did not have the necessary reason to safely measure the risks of being lost in a such distant and deserted place and, in a childlike and impulsive gesture, I threw myself on the land in search of the small animal.
It did not take so long for me to realize that I had distanced myself too far from the place where I was, giving the distinct feeling of being lost in the midst of a myriad of shrubs that seemed to be all the same. I fell into despair and I started crying, crouching down and with my eyes shut by my hands, covering my face. That´s when I felt a soft touch of something on one of my hands.
To my surprise and astonishment, when I opened my eyes I saw that it was a little man with very funny characteristics. As soon as he looked at me in the eyes, he smiled and made a sound like a grunt, but soft and warm. I kept myself unmoved and gradually I noticed the arrival of other little men who were coming out from behind the other bushes that were around me. All they together circled around me and looked at me with a look of welcome and tenderness that until today makes me dream often with that magical moment.
After a few moments, the one who seemed to be the oldest among them took me by the hand and guided me very gently to the place where I had left so that I could see the car and also my parents closely.
I noticed that it must have passed only a few minutes, because my father was still down, changing the tire, and my mother stood beside him smiling and singing. When I saw them I let out a huge sigh of relief and felt an intense joy. Still holding hands, I looked at the little man besides me who smiling, let go of my hand and then hugged me, as if in a farewell sign. Already standing, I realized that he had no more than my height, that is, at my age at that time, no later than 1.20 meters height.
I ran towards the car and as soon as I reached my parents I looked back and the little man was still there, standing, looking at me through the bushes as if he were still caring for me to reach safely where I had gone in search of the rabbit.
Immediately I shouted:
– Mom, Mom, I got lost! My mother made a face of fright, not understanding what had happened. She joke me saying:
– Oh really, my son? And how did you find your way back?
– It was a little man who brought me, he’s there, look! And I pointed to the direction of the bush where the little one was.
Curiously, my mother did not see him, but I could see him perfectly, so that I insisted with her incisively to look him better with her eyes. I do not know why but my mother could not see him. I am sure that this being was real and was there, very close to us, but unfortunately only I could see him.
– It is ready! Said Mom. – Come on, your dad finished with the tire and we can continue the trip.
– But what about the little man? We need to get him home, Mom. It’s too cold out here and we can not leave him here.
– You must have been scared, my dear, this is very normal when we are worried about something. Come with mommy a little in the front seat. Let’s go, it’s getting too cold out here.
We all got in the car and my daddy started the engine. As we left the road and got the highway, I immediately jumped into the backseat in the midst of bumps and trampling my mother everything I could. As I looked in the direction we had just been, I saw many little men coming out from the bushes and taking the road side in the local where the car had stopped for the tire changing. The little one who had helped me, raised his right hand and waved farewell, while the others stood around him, emitting only looks of warmth and tenderness.
At that moment, even without understanding, I had my first spiritual experience with the magical beings existent in the Tierra del Fuego and with the path I would later call the “Sacred Way.” Many years have passed ever since, and the episode of that day was little by little being locked in my forgetting chest.
However, even unconsciously, I often had strange dreams with magical beings, even after I was an adult, and when I woke up I had the feeling that somehow I would return someday to that place and find the answers to all the doubts that remained hidden in my memory.
Masks used by the Members of the Secret Society of Hain
any centuries ago, around the year 1500, a group of the Old World explorers spotted an extremely arid, rocky and completely unknown land, surrounded by na infinitude of islands of all shapes and sizes.
There were also in these lands huge pillars of smoke, so high that they seemed to touch the sky. They were indeed the huge bonfires made by the natives of this land so inhospitable that they seemed to hover over the icy waters of the canals that surrounded the small masses of earth and rock on every side. It was exactly this mystical and curious scenery that made those ones who came there for the first time gave the place the name of “Tierra del Fuego”. Although the place is still rather remote today, it has attracted large numbers of people from all over the world, thirsting for adventures, stories and legends.
After reading a little about the region and knowing that it was also known by the nickname “The End of the World”, I thought to myself: if it is there the world ends, it must be there the world also begins, because every end is also a beginning.
But something greater fascinated me to the point of having chosen the “End of the World” as my desert: the men who passed by there and the native inhabitants of their lands, as well as the experiences they lived in such an inhospitable and solitary environment
Alberto de Agostini, of Polish origin, explorer, photographer and Salesian priest, who became known for his missionary work and exploration in Tierra del Fuego, wrote about the place around 1875:
“At the extremity of that extensive land tip of South America, which is narrowing as it approaches the Pole, bathed by two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, the continent seems to have broken up into a vast archipelago which, separated of the mainland through the Strait of Magellan, penetrates the cold and mysterious solitudes of the Antarctic under the suggestive name of Tierra del Fuego”.
Upon returning to England after three long years of living on the southernmost outskirts, Darwin wrote about his memories of what remained of his passage to the End of the World:
“I do not think I should be the only one to whom this happens, why these arid deserts have taken root so deeply in my memory?”
Around this same period, Julius Popper, a naturalized Argentinean Jewish-Romanian engineer, left in his writings what he found in that immense desert:
“I did not only see dwarfs and giants, underground woods, Antarctic jungles, underwater caves and granite colossus, but I also saw the untouched doors of paradise.”
Besides these, many others ventured into this immense and so inhospitable desert, and at the same time so mysterious and fascinating: Thomas Bridges, George Despard, Allen Gardner, Robert Fitzroy and many others. Mostly part, explorers and missionaries who have chosen, of their own free will, to meet their deserts.
Concerning to the End of the World, it is also important to mention that this is called this way because it is the southernmost piece of land on the planet, and also because it is the last inhabited place before arriving in Antarctica, on reason for why great explorers, adventurers and pathfinders decided to settle permanently or temporarily there. Right after the arrival of the first explorers and missionaries, some European powers of that time were literally obsessed with reaching the South Pole, creating a kind of “gold rush” to the southern tip of the planet in the early 20th century.
The intentions, of course, were as varied as possible. From the mapping of little-known lands and islands to the search for the discovery of new lands in a new and immense continent, as well as their wealth and the right to possess them.
I also must say that the leaders of these expeditions made a great contribution to my choice in the “End of the World” desert. As I read about these expeditions, I sought to know better the soul of these great men, who faced the cold, the hunger, the solitude, the glory, as well as the death.
From what I have been able to find throughout the history, most of these men, though fulfilled their distinctive tasks and obligations to their financiers, they also pursue their own interests. And it is precisely these self-interests that I tried to decipher, by trying to understand their dreams, because it was precisely in those self-interests that their hearts resided.
What to talk about Captain Fitz Roy who came to the south end almost by chance? For his fear of loneliness and the long and arid desert he was about to face, he demanded that the British Crown allow him to bring on board a young naturalist named Charles Darwin, to keep him as company during the long and difficult period of hard work, having someone to talk to. For his part, Darwin also faced an immense desert before concluding his theory of species evolution.
In the not too far history, Captain AP Moller, founder of one of the largest shipping companies in the world just recently, early in his career had only a small ship and often took his wife with him on his travels in order to escape the long periods of loneliness and not staying so far away from her. During one of his trips, his wife was seriously ill, to the point of almost losing her.
In the midst of an immense ocean, and in the face of a strong storm, he found himself weak and powerless before of any attempt to save her. In a moment of extreme anguish he laid her on the bed and went out on the deck, flooded by the water and the heavy rain, screaming with God so that He gave him a single signal to keep him firm and not fall down defeated by anguish and despair. The story tells that after his prayers a soft wind touched his face and in a few minutes a dry breeze hovered over the ship. Gradually the clouds began to dilute, and it was when he looked up at the sky and he saw, a lonely star, a huge star between a sea of clouds, a sign that his prayer had been heard. Thereafter there was favorable weather, and they soon reached a safe port.
His wife was able to be attended and survived, and as soon as he docked he asked for to be painted a large white star inside a blue-sky streamer in the chimney of his ship as a way of remembering the overcome moments of anguish in the middle of his desert, as well as in Thank God for listening to his prayers. His company succeed over the years, becoming a real empire, and untill this day the star can be seen from distance on all ships of its fleet.
Going back to the “End of the World”, there are so many cases that involve faith, persistence and determination throughout so many deserts faced and overcome, that I prefer to leave them for another opportunity, and as I walk my way, going through some tracks faced by some of these great men, I will try to express it through my feelings.
Finally, also making a brief analogy to the latest scientific discoveries regarding the power emanating from nothingness, the famous antimatter, I believe that it is in the most inhospitable, solitary and distant places that the light existente within each one manifests itself in a more intense and productive way.
And it is precisely in the midst of the trials and new discoveries that we go graduating as human and divine beings, and we discover our primary role in the world and in people’s lives.
Drawing: Typical Fueguina Canoe
Preparations for The Trip
t was already past midnight that Friday, November 3rd. It rained heavily and wind a lot, which worried me, because the next morning my flight from Santa Catarina would leave in the direction of the extreme south of América. A few moments ago I had just checked all my belongings, documents and passages, and everything seemed to be ready, in order. All I could do was check my emails and confirm the meeting with Juan, my friend and travel partner. Before that, I decided to take a warm bath to relax, hoping to decrease my anxiety.
…………After the bath I gathered all my things and put them on the red sofa that I have in the right corner of my room, which by the way is the closest point of the door. For a moment I looked at my luggage and let out a big sigh:
…………Right after I took the computer in my hands and accessed my e-mails. To my unfortunate surprise, I received a last-time email from Juan canceling his gone for health reasons, and at that very moment I thought I would give up as well. Since the beginning of the year I had tried to get some partner willing to go on an adventure trip to the End of the World, but everyone had given up, except Juan who, incredible as it may seem, I thought he would be the first to give up.
…………Juan was between 55 and 60 years old, was an engineer of Hungarian origin and lived in Buenos Aires since he had graduated in engineering in England. He was divorced and had only one daughter. He descended from a noble family provided by generations of adventurers who gave up their conventional lives to plunge into the distant and little-known lands that belonged to the southern tip of America. I got his contact through a known person, fan of adventures and stories about South American indigenous cultures. I came to find out later that this my fellow did not know him as well as I believed, but he assured me of all possible and impossible ways that he was a reliable, cultured person owner of a great spirit.
…………Since I made my first contact with him, I have been building in my mind, through the e-mails we have exchanged, the figure of an experienced and sensible person, educated and at the same time amused, which would be perfect for the occasion. As our friendship increased, Juan showed more and more to be an ideal partner for this adventure, specially because he was very familiar with the region and the history of the people who inhabited Tierra del Fuego until times not far from our own.
…………According to his history, his maternal grandfather had been an explorer, who for decades traveled through Tierra del Fuego in search of adventures and the mysterious secrets of the history of the people who inhabited the southernmost region of the planet. Many of his travels would have been solitary, on foot or by horse. In some occasions he had as company friends whom he made throughout the adventures, most of them native to the Fuegian peoples, who after years living togheter and regarded him as a loyal and true friend, passed to see him as part of their own people.
…………As it had been a long time since the passed away of his grandfather, Juan ended up left behind the stories and the many other memories, and could no longer to call on to the living memory he had in relation to the places he had passed by and the people he had lived with during his travels. However, his grandfather had left him a present: a small rustic wooden box adorned with colored stones, filled with maps, photos and important documents that were collected throughout his years of adventure and pilgrimage through Tierra del Fuego. With these documents there was a map drawn with his own hand and some inscriptions, suggesting the existence of a hidden trail whose beginning would be near the region of the lakes, in the extreme South of Patagonia.
…………The first part of this trail crossed several valleys and mountain ranges towards the south of America, penetrated the Chilean territory crossing the region of Torres de Paine and continued towards the small town of Puerto Natales, passing by a place where there was a huge cave. Ahead it crossed again mountains, surrounding lakes, glaciers and following towards the city Punta Arenas. From there the map suggested crossing the Strait of Magellan by land until reach the village of Puerto Hambre in the area of the old Fort Bulnes.
…………At that point, the trail marking signaled its end on the coast of the Strait, reappearing on the opposite side, near the region where is the Chilean city known as Porvenir – the capital of Tierra del Fuego Chilena. Thereafter a few strange demarcations on the map indicated two distinct new routes, which got separated and back to get togheter again close to Lake Kami, today known as Lago Fagnano, which has about 100 kilometers long and belongs to both Argentina and Chile.
…………One of the route seemed to be flatter, the other seemed to indicate some mountain ranges that were to be transposed. According to the drafts made on the map, it was the final part of the Andes Mountains, which crosses the South American continent at a certain point from east to west, submerging in the Atlantic Ocean, near the Island of the States, and resurfacing only near Antarctica.
…………A small arrow on the map suggested to the adventurer that this route that crossed the end of the Andes Mountain Range would be the best option, and it was exactly by this one we had decided to follow.
…………Finally, the mysterious way opened and trodden many times by Juan’s grandfather was now there, before of us, and waiting to be rediscovered, would still pass through the city of Ushuaia, but he would be won only after crossing the Beagle Channel, where we should enter Chilean territory that are on the other side of the channel, on Navarino Island, passing through Puerto Williams and ending the long journey in the small village of Puerto Toro, the southernmost inhabited point in the world.
…………Since I knew the existence of this history, the maps and the records that belonged to Juan’s grandfather, I was fascinated by the idea of finding the beginning of this trail and follow it, because it seemed to me that it was inserted in a distant world, very out of uncommon reality.
…………During many and many nights over the months that followed since I knew Juan and his history, and after reading and researching about Tierra del Fuego and the people who inhabited it, I wandered in my dreams and thoughts every way trying to assemble a scenery which could serve as a basis for the history I am writing here today. But nothing compares to what I lived, felt and saw with my own eyes, because the magic contained in the way is impossible to be expressed in words.
However, Juan’s email that last night before the trip seemed like an end-point in everything I had dreamed.
…………The email that Juan had written did not seem to be just a notify, but above all it contained in the words an appeal that I should not give up about the idea of go on, as if this first challenge would be only a small test for everything that was about to come, as it said. In his last words, Juan said: “who knows this [his abandonment] would not be a work of chance, but something that I should consider as a small obstacle if I really wanted to reach where almost no one man had ever arrived.”
…………Somehow these words sounded me pertinent to what I had been looking for in the recent years, to the call that my heart kept on listening. I mean, the call that I should find my desert and cross it alone. However, I confess that I felt completely frightened, because above all I was taken by surprise at that moment.
…………Attached to his e-mail was the map from his grandfather, tips, and finally, a small note written by Juan himself in an unknown language, which I was supposed to print and deliver to his best childhood friend, that was called Halimink, who would be waiting for me at the airport in the city of El Calafate – in the region of Argentine Lakes, and would follw me along the way.
…………Making a balance and trying to digest Juan’s e-mail, the fact that I was supposed to meet a complete stranger made me even more apprehensive. I thought about giving up, even losing all the money I had invested in tickets, clothes and accessories.
…………I decided to reply to the email and accuse Juan for ruining my plans and also for making me an idiot. In deep, I should have been an idiot, for I had trusted a project of this magnitude to a person completely unknown and based only on stories told by an old man who was not even part of this world anymore. And the map? Who could really guarantee that the map was real? It might very well be the fruit of imagination of a moribund old man who once thought himself worthy to compare himself to Indiana Jones.
…………I wrote na answer to Juan with all my complaints, but before finished I had already regretted having written it, so I decided not to send immediately. Before I decided to pray for a few minutes.
…………I asked in my prayers that God would illuminate my thoughts and I implored for some signal, any sinal no matter how small it was, that could give me the answer whether or not I should go ahead with the journey in search of the lost way of Tierra del Fuego.
…………After almost one hour of praying and reflection and almost getting the second hour of the morning, no answer, no sign, nothing … Just anguish. I got up and walked to the window of my room and opened it to get some fresh air. It was then that a light breeze touched my face, moistening it gently. The weather remained closed, although the rain was almost gone. When I turned my face to the sky I saw a small star in the midst of all those turbulent clouds that passed so quickly, agitated under it.
…………A single star, small, in the midst of that vast ocean of clouds that seemed to be an infinite, insisted on keeping there shining for me. This is the signal I had asked of God. The signal that once in history had already been given.
…………I got back to my computer and immediately erased the whole letter I had written to Juan, mistreating and accusing him of ruining my dream. I wish that we would take this attitude every time, avoiding this way undesirable consequences.
…………In place of the huge letter I wrote a small message in response, which succinctly said:
…………“Dear friend, I know you made no effort so that we could be together tomorrow to begin this great adventure. I wish God that we might indeed be together and find the lost way traced by your grandfather and given to you through the maps and records you sent me. Thank you so much for trusting me all this information you have kept with so much care for so many years. I know that, somehow, we’ll be together on this trip. I hope to meet you soon in Buenos Aires and share with you all that I can receive from Tierra del Fuego and from the people that I cross over the journey. And about the way, do not worry, I’ll find it.”
Drawing: Beagle Ship by Conrad Martens
The Arrival at El Calafate and The Meeting with Halimink
The Beggining of The Way
fter writing the answer to Juan, I tried to lie down and rest for the next day, but I knew it would not be easy to sleep. Even so, I tried to calm my mind. It was only a few moments before without to noticing the alarm rang and I had to get up quickly. I put on my clothes and made a quick snack.
…………Everything that morning went well. The flights did not delay, but there were flight scales and it was not possible to make the direct route. I had to go first to Buenos Aires and change as the airport as the plane, making me to lose almost a whole day in reason of a trip that could have last much less, if it was a direct flight. While in Buenos Aires, at the next airport, I had to wait about four hours before my flight left to the city of El Calafate, where I was supposed to meet Juan’s childhood friend.
…………El Calafate is a small city located in the province of Santa Cruz, very close to the border with Chile. In spite of having a fixed population of approximately 8.500 inhabitants, in some periods of the year this volume increases considerably because the city offers a good hotel structure, modern airport and many tourism options, especially for those ones who like adventure. Its roads are very well maintained and signposted, but with little movement. The region has a cold climate, with annual average between five and seven degrees Celsius. The name El Calafate comes from a shrub that is born in the region and produces a small fruit of which are made jams and jellies, as well as liqueurs, which we find for sale in almost all food stores in the region.
…………It is also the closest city to the Glacier National Park, the region of Argentine Lakes, where is located the largest horizontal glacier in the world: the Perito Moreno Glacier. It is a glacier that shows a constant growth despite global warming, being one of the only glaciers in the world with this characteristic, which intrigues scientists and scholars worldwide.
…………The region also has another important glacier: the Upsalla Glacier, which is accessed near the entrance of the small village of El Chalten, considered the Trekking Capital of Argentina. The village was declared a World Heritage Site by its wonderful geological formations, fauna and flora, found nowhere else in the world, and is located at the foot of the famous Fitz Roy mountain, pointed out as one of the most difficult in the world to get to the top, due to the degree of difficulty and the severe climatic conditions.
…………The glaciers that exist in the region of the Argentinian Lakes are like imposing guardians of the snow, that was being deposited gradually by thousands and thousands of years, from the top of the Andes Mountain Range, descending by paths that arrive almost to reach 180 kilometers of distance. The formation of a glacier is basically of compressed snow and its gradual formation allows a spectacle to the part: the appearance of hundred tones of blue, that go from since the darkest blue until the whitest. All practically finalize their course in Argentin Lake, breaking up in different ways, since from small pieces, ice boulders and even big icebergs, that slowly descend the bed of the lake and sometimes beach near the edges and there remain until their melting. During the course of descent, the glaciers move about one meter a day, and this movement causes friction with the bottom land, throwing in the lake an enormous amount of fine sediments floating in the water, forming a kind of aquatic milky way that some ones call it “the milk of glaciers”. It’s a wonderful sight that everyone should have the opportunity to know.
…………When disembarking in El Calafate, I quickly managed not to waste time, and I quickly made my way to the luggage rack to get my backpack and my walking equipment. To my astonishment there was no one waiting for me at the door. I walked toward the open parking lot and looked around for any signal of Halimink, but nothing. After a few moments I looked towards the road that gave access to the airport and saw a different figure approaching, carrying a rustic backpack on the back and a wooden stick in the right hand, like those ones people use to take in long walks. As I approached, I realized that it was a short mestizo with large shoulders and robust. I kept stood up watching him and left him getting to approach. When he came within a few steps of me, in a way we could have a verbal contact, he stopped and looked at me in the eye, and calmly and smoth said my name, and I answered in the same way, with his name.
…………Halimink justified his delay by claiming that it was his custom to wait under a tree where he used to sit and enjoy the desert landscape that surrounds the airport of El Calafate, until the moment when he saw the “great metallic bird” touching the ground.
…………As soon as we introduced ourselves, I was very curious about him, for he looked like one of those natives who carries with him the same charm as his land. Although I had been traveling for hours, I did not feel tired, perhaps of curiosity about all that was about to come. I asked him where I could get some food before we left, and without responding directly, he gestured with one of his hand, waving it in the direction we should go.
…………– We have a long way ahead, do not worry about things – he said.
…………When we began the walk along the road that gave access to the airport, I tried to strengthen our friendship by showing interest in his life, what make me to ask him many questions, and he politely answered all with patience and goodwill, although almost always without giving so much detail.
…………Halimink was born in the heart of Tierra del Fuego, on Ilha Grande de Tierra del Fuego (or “Big Island of Tierra del Fuego”), near Lago Kami, known today also as Lago Fagnano. After becoming an adult, his family migrated to Alakalufes Land, today a National Park belonging to Chile, near the city of Puerto Natales. The Alakalufes formed a large group of Indians from the Chilean austral zone, being nomadic by nature and specialists in the art of canoeing. They traveled practically all the channels of Western Patagonia, the Strait of Magellan in all its extension, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, besides other channels existing to the west of the Great Island of Tierra del Fuego.
…………It was considered a People with great wisdom, and that had a well-defined language known by the name of kawésgar, word that also they used to call themselves and that the meaning whose referred to the idea of “person” or “human being”. Before the arrival of the white man, it is estimated that the Alakhalufe People were composed of approximately 3,000 individuals. However, since their first contact, especially with Europeans, they began to acquire a serie of illnesses that led them almost to the absolute decline.
…………Another curious and relevant fact that occurred from 1870 in European and North American cities was the exhibition of living South American Indians, a custom that only was left at the beginning of the 20th century. Whole families of different ethnicities were exhibited in France, England, Belgium and Germany. They came to Europe on behalf of scientific communities or merchants who profited from their public exhibitions. They were long excursions that lasted months, which usually make them to contract illnesses and later to death, with rare cases where they returned alive to their homelands.
…………As soon as we left the main road from the airport and entered the high-way that would lead us to the beginning of the way that we should follow towards the extreme south, we had to stop at a police station known as the Gendarmerie.
…………There were two soldiers inside the station, and two othes outside, stopping and checking the cars. One of the soldiers asked me for my documents and questioned my origin and destination. Halimink intervened and said that I was with him and nothing else was asked. My passport was devolved and I noticed that one of the soldiers made a subtle salutation to Halimink with his left hand, in a peculiar way, crossing two of his fingers while the other three remained straight. He returned the greeting by lowering his head as a form of consentiment and thanksgiving. I noticed in these movements that there was a complicity between the soldier and him. As we left, I asked Halimink what a Gendarmerie would really be, but he replied just that it was an independent border police. I also asked if he was a friend of the soldier who seemed to have greeted him, and he just replied yes, again without giving more details.
…………I noticed that there was some resistance in him about the subject and so I decided to just pay attention on the way. Later I tried to understand what exactly the Gendarmerie was about, and what its origin was.
…………In Argentina, in order to consolidate the national limit and protect all those who went to the most distant and extreme regions of the country, in 1938 was created the National Gendarmerie, that later became a kind of Border Police. Another peculiarity is that its members are subject to an extremely disciplined regime. They have a strong military structure and doctrine that allows them to fulfill their functions in times of peace, and in times of war they must be integrated with other military ground forces. So that in 1982 so called Gendarmeiros participated actively in the War of the Falklands.
…………With these informations I researched in the history if there was any connection or a lost information that could clarify a little more the origin of some type of police or specific platoon that had, as one of its main functions, the care with people that moved or migrated to the along of some path or territory. I was surprised to discover that the name Gendarmeria originates from the French term “Gendarmerie”, which derives from the term “Gendarme”, which in it turns originated from the old French “Gens d’Armes” or “Men of Arms”. Historically the term “Gens d’Armes” referred to a group of knights of noble origin, endowed with heavy armor and that was determined to protect pilgrims traveling through Europe during the Middle Ages. Thus the creation of the French Gendarmerie in the 18th century served as an inspiration and model for the formation of similar institutions in other countries, such as the Royal Guard of Portugal, the Netherlands, the Carbinieri of the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Zhandarmov in the Russian Empire, as well as the Royal Guard of Spain and the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Guard in the late 18th century.
…………As soon as I read about all these, it was inevitable for me not to link these assignments to the Templar Knights who also served as similar role until the year 1307, when on a Friday of October 13th, the Order was declared illegal by the King Philip IV of France, and its members were accused of heresy and imprisoned simultaneously throughout in the whole country, being tortured and executed in large bonfires in public squares. This event was also known as Halloween and helped to give rise to the superstition that exists around the Friday 13th.
…………After this strange coincidences and so many similarities to some of the Templars’ attributions, I wondered several times if the “Gendarmeiros” could be some kind of guardians of an unknown way by the most people, except for some ones predestined to know it and the save it secretly. I also wondered if Juan’s grandfather would not have been one of those people who was part of a secret group that not only knew a way but also everything it kept about life and the mysteries that surrounded it.
…………Although I had no proof or a personal affirmation from Halimink, I had the distinct feeling that the answer was affirmative, and that I was about to walk through a Sacred Way unknown to most people. This feeling became even clearer when I questioned him about his main occupation as well as guide. He did not want to go into too much detail, but he said he belonged to a secret order that secretly guarded a place called “Hain” and its secrets. His function in the Order was to be one of the guardians of the First Way. Without giving more details, he asked me gently to pay attention to the trail we were following and everything would be revealed in the right moment.
…………The Gendarmeria post was about five kilometers from where we left, near the entrance of the main road that gave access to the airport of El Calafate, on Highway 11. After our quick stay with the soldiers checking my documents, we followed Highway 11 about five kilometers more, to the east, until we reached Route 40, which we should follow as far as Halimink could determine. I remember perfectly that we always turned right when there was some intersection on the road to the southern end of the South American continent, but specifically towards the “End of the World.”
…………Although it was still cold in November in that part of the planet, the sun was strong and I complained of thirst. Halimink replied by saying that along the way water would be no problem and pointed to the mountains still somewhat covered by snow. Of course, where there is snow there is water, but I could not see any streams along the highway, nor any mounds of snow on the ground where I could collect it in order to melt it and turn it into water.
…………Along Route 40 the vegetation is somewhat scarce, although it is possible from November to see nature gaining life and the various shades of green forming, from the clearest to the darkest, which mix with the large parts browned of soil and stone mountains that lose sight on the horizon.
…………It was not so easy to find some colored flower, but every time we came across with anyone, Halimink stoped, and opening his arms he made a gesture at the same moment that he said a strange word, which seemed to be a kind of greeting. In the same way he behaved when we came across an animal, usually rabbits or “zorros” – kind of small Fuegian foxes. Before of the apparent calm of Halimink kept as he approached them, there seemed to be a kind of interaction and mutual tolerance between thm, in relation to their presence in the same space.
…………A little later I complained of thirst again and at this time I heard Halimink say that we were already near the beginning of the Way, where we should rest.
…………– “Near the beginning of the road?” I thought we were already in the way!
…………He just smiled and said that I did too many questions.
…………– I’m very thirsty and this is stunning me.
…………With a warm smile, he told me:
…………– People easily stop seeing what is beautiful when a problem arises throughout life. Do not worry, the entrance is already close to here, and as soon as we leave the road we will camp at the place we will spend the night. There is enough water there.
…………I felt somewhat embarrassed by the answer I got from him and decided not to ask any more questions, surrending myself fully to what was proposed and trusting on Halimink. First because there was nothing else to do, I was already in the way, without food, with no water and in the company of a stranger, although I had had great references of him. But at this point, what good would it be for me to back down or give up? I remembered Juan and when I received his e-mail informing about his waiver, when he said if this would not be a kind of proof for everything that was to come. I realized that I had already won the stage of not giving up and if I was there at that moment it is because I should just to go ahead.
…………We walked another five kilometers more when Halimink finally stopped and said that we had reached the beginning of the way. To my happiness it sounded as if I finally had plenty of water, food, hot bath and a delicious soft bed at my disposal. However I was completely wrong. He pointed to a small stone gateway and said:
…………– Here we’ll start the trail tomorrow, early in the morning. For today it is enough for us!
…………We left Route 40 and got a trail that was poorly drawn, but visible to who was used to it as well as walking through an endless labyrinth of creepy shrubs, rocks and mountains. Right next to the stone gateway there was a distinct, bigger and well-closed shrub. Halimink circled it and disappeared behind it. While I watched the shrub swinging I heard Halimink intonating a chant in a language completely different from anything I had ever heard.
…………After a few minutes he reappeared in a vestiment completely different than the one he was wearing. Her dress looked like a masculine Indian dress, grayish in tone and well time-worn. Instead of the shoe, he now wore sandals and, at his waist, a large leather belt with some utensils attached to it, such as a knife, thread, sandpaper stone and some other implements. On his arm, resting on his right shoulder a huge arch, running from almost his head to his knees, and on the back a basket containing arrows and some other utensils. On his left shoulder was a canteen hung with a rope and he deduced it contained some water. I asked if I could drink a little, and he just replied:
…………– Come on, the water is very near here, in the place where we will spend tonight.
…………I asked him what had happened to his clothes and he answered in a very simple and directly way that his clothes would have no use along the way, as well as the implements, money or any other outfits we used in the city.
…………We continued walking for about 300 meters more, when some shrubs began to become thinner and, behind that peculiar vegetation, appeared a beautiful lake, small but of a striking beauty, still more for who was thirsty.
…………– We’ll spend the night here by the lake – he said. The water is pure, from the melting of the glaciers on top of the mountains that we surrounded during the walk. Drink at will and prepare your tent while I will provide our food. If it takes a little while, do not worry. Sometimes it is necessary to choose well what we hunt, out of respect for the animal.
…………In a simple gesture he bowed down before me and gave me his back, taking one of the arrows out of the basket. Then he began to test the string rigidity of his arch.
…………– Not too much, not too few – exclaimed him whispering softly, fading behind the bushes in the right direction of the lake.
…………I thought myself: how can exist a such beautiful place hidden from people’s eyes? Then I went to the lake and got down on its border. I drank as much as I could, until I satiate my thirst completely, and then returned.
…………The true beauty is very scarce and it is quite likely that this is why it is almost always hidden, waiting to be discovered only by those ones who have a heart worthy of appreciation, giving it due value. Everything that exists in life and is before us with some easiness tends to be few valorized. Often we passed by through something beautiful and true and let it go without having appreciated or learned anything from it. I think that as long as we are too occupied or focused on our “Me” (itself), we will let many wonderful things pass before us. Probably that is why Halimink insisted on me to pay more attention to the way, and whenever he finds a flower or some other small being he greets it with a gesture of admiration and gratitude for having found it.
…………I felt my body and my feet aching and decided to open my shoes. At that moment a soft icy breeze touched my face, and then I heard all the bushes around me like snaping. The cold made me shaking and the tireness shoot me down. I sat up and looked around me at all that splendor of beauty and the enchantment contained in that place. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and thanked God for being there, in the midst of everything and nothingness.
…………It was after 19 hours and the sun was still high in the sky. At this time of year when we are approaching summer in the southern hemisphere, the days are very long, and may only take a few hours of darkness at night.
…………I hear a few steps and I see Halimink getting closer smiling. In one of his hands a rabbit.
…………– Done! – he said. Our food was provided. While I prepare the fire, finish with your things.
…………– It was not exactly what I expected for – I said. – I remember to ask to stop somewhere near the town where I could buy some things to eat throughout the day. I have never eaten that way, by the way, I don´t feel good seeing the animal being dead before my eyes, having to open and clean it. I’m only going to eat because I’m starving, otherwise I would sleep hungry and tomorrow I would try to find something.
…………Halimink, with smiling eyes and also full of comprehension, said:
…………– When we are in the way, we become part of it, we are totally surrendered to it. All we have to do is thank it for letting us to follow it, hoping that he will give us the sustenance of each day. Tomorrow we will find nothing beyond what “it” will offer us. And this will be repeated during all the days to come, whether we like it or not.
…………Again I felt ashamed for I look like a spoiled man and forgot the true purpose of the trip. Instead of complaining I should feel grateful for Halimink’s work for providing the food. Whitout my noticing, he turned his back to me and went out looking for sticks to set the fire, while I finished with my things. During the assembly of my tent I looked again at the lake and the breathtaking scenery around me, despite of the intense cold that I was beginning to make because of the approaching sunset. Again I felt thirsty and walked to the edge of the lake. I bent down to drink the water with my hands and then washed my face. For a moment, after the water had stopped shaking, I looked sharply at my face and had a estrangment.
…………I was curious about the feeling I had and I believe it should be pertinent to all who spend a long time on the road without having to look in the mirror. I came to have the clear feeling that after some time in any way, no matter how small or simple it is, we start incorporating it by every step taken in search of our destiny, and gradually we bring out what we really are and what has been forgotten for a long time within us. So, looking at my reflection in the water, I got some kind of astonishement, like if I was someone else. I think Halimink is completely right. From the moment we launch into the way, we become part of it, inside and outside, and everything around begins to vibrate within us. Maybe that was my sense of strangeness, that is, as if I should see not just my face in the reflection of the water, but everything I was seeing around me: beauty, fullness, greatness… In resume: I should see the Way itself in myself.
…………However, the facto of seeing my face also made me to reminde for a few moments of my real life, although I felt my heart light and willing, despite of all the tiredness.
…………– I see you have not finished your tent yet – Halimink said, while approaching with his hands busy with a handful of fine and long wood twigs overlapping on one of his shoulder.
…………– While I was getting water I was thinking about the life I left behind only two days ago, and I was also admiring the beautiful nature of this place.
…………Halimink smiled and said:
…………– What a so Great! Except by the facto f you are thinking about what was left behind you, I see you started paying attention on the way, and that’s very important. Certainly, each day we will follow, you will pay more attention to what is around you, in the signs and teachings, and less in yourself and in what was left behind. Every way is a one-way street in which we must just move on, without looking back. Soon you will see the way within yourself and will become the own way!
…………I finished setting up my tent, while Halimink made the fire. While our dinner was roasted, he searched through the bushes for a native root that mixed with water gave a light flavor of green mint, which reminded me of lemongrass.
…………Even giving the impression that only a rabbit would be few, we ate until to get satisfied, and the root mixed with water made the meal becomes complete. Then I took off my shoes and put my feet on the ground, an indescribable sensation after miles of walking, although the ground was immensely cold.
…………I had not realized until now that Halimink appeared to have brought no equipment for the night, nor a cloth or thick cloth that could shelter him. By this time the sun began to set on the horizon, it was approximately 22 hours. That was when I saw him walk toward a small pile of stones and remove them one by one, taking out from under them a leather roll about 40 centimeters in diameter. When he opened it, could be seen sticks of wood tied to it to a measure about one meter from one stick to another. In one of the sides, the sticks were pointed, which allowed them to be fixed into the ground. Halimink began to circle the leather, using the sticks as support and sustention. When questioning him about the material, he commented that it was Guanaco leather, a typical animal of Tierra del Fuego and the Andes Regions. He explained that he had been accustomed to set up camps this way and to sleep using only rudimentary materials already used hundreds of years by the people who lived in the region of the steppes, and it should be so, because this way he would only gain respect of the Beings and Spirits that inhabited the ground where we stepped.
………….His rudimentary tent was placed next to my little one, so that we could speak each other without much effort. The night began to fall and sleep took over me. I saluted Halimink and thanked him for everything so far. Before I lay down, however, he took a branch of wood and made a circle around our tents keeping us inside of the circle, which measures about ten meters in diameter. When asked what it was serving for, he simply replied:
…………– For our protection.
…………It made me want to laugh and at the same time a certain fear, for in fact we were very far from any inhabited place and totally exposed to danger, without any weapon for our protection. Anyway, there was no turning back or giving up.
JELJ: The Ancient Treaty of Peace of the Beings of Tierra Del Fuego
…………n completing the circle, Halimink made two small scratches that gave the impression of a doorway. Next to it she wrote a big word: JELJ. Then he knelt with only one knee touching the ground, lowered his head, and with one hand holding his wooden stick, recited a brief prayer, or kind of invocation. According to his explanation, it was an ancient invocation of the Ancient Treaty of Peace of the Inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego. He added:
…………– Inside this circle we are protected. Whatever it happens during the night, do not get out of it.
…………– You’re making me afflicted. What are we really talking about?
…………– There is nothing to worry about. Until today no one being or spirit inhabiting the Tierra del Fuego has dared to break the JELJ. That would be the same as putting at risk the balance of life and the harmony in everything that exists around us. However, from a few decades to now, many disrespectful walkers and adventurers began to travel through these lands, which made much of the beings and spirits very unhappy. As long as we are respectful and invoke the JELJ, we will not take any risk, except for some inconviniences we may suffer from the little ones.
…………– Who are the little ones?
…………– The little ones were, and still are, a people of small stature, who look somewhat like dwarfs or gnomes. The highest do not pass our waist. They have been inhabiting for thousands of years the extension of land that goes from El Calafate to nearby of the city of Puerto Natales. In the old past they were divided in two great clans, the “Mehns” and the “Yoshis”. Today there is only one, all descendants of the Mehns clan. The Mehns were always endowed with a spirit of kindness and protection; while the Yoshis possessed traits of perversity, though they lived in a certain harmony between them. Lately the Mehns have not been content because of the white man’s conduction before the nature, especially disrespect for his lands, becoming some of them rebels and even aggressive. The old hermit once told us that after probing the souls of some Mehns he realized that his spirits had become Yoshis, and gradually a small clan endowed with bad feelings and not suited to the kindness of others had formed, which is very Bad for us.
…………– Who is the old hermit? And why do not we find any dwarf or gnome along the path we’ve been through?
…………– The old hermit … I should not have mentioned about him yet. He is one of the guardians of the way and at the right time you will know him.
…………– I thought we were both going to be together the whole way and whoever we were going to meet would do it together.
…………Halimink smiled and said:
…………– A great way is composed of many parts, and each part carries within itself its own infinitude. Do not worry about it, because we’ll all be together until the end. And for the little ones, we didn´t find anyone and we will hardly see them, because they don´t let them to be seen. Most consider the men a danger to nature and harmony of life on their lands. They usually spend a lot of time probing a person’s heart before they let themselves to be seen by it. If you ever see one, consider yourself privileged. I do not know a white man who has seen one.
…………– Have you ever seen any of them?
…………– Yes, twice. One of them when I was in danger and I was helped by a small group of them, which made me eternally grateful. In another situation, I noticed my son playing and talking to an invisible being, but only my son could see him. I asked my son to draw his little friend in the sand, and before the drawing was ready he shouted, “Dad, he’s leaving, look!” As I looked at the direction in which my son pointed, I could see the little fellow already in the middle of the bushes, waving farewell. It was an incredible sensation, the expression of kindness and purity in the face and eyes of that creature.
…………– Finally, before we go to bed, I must tell you that they are not always so friendly. Lately they have been very grumpy because of too many passersby passing by around here. We’ll talk more about them tomorrow. For today I only ask you not to leave the circle.
…………– All right, but before I would like to ask you something.
The Original People of Tierra del Fuego
(Available just until Chapter III)
(Translation to English by the author Henry Jenné)