Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A call to action

A call to action

It's with a heaviness in my heart and a saddness in my soul that I write this entry. Torres del Paine is burning. It's an act of recklessness, selfishness and stupidity. No fires are allowed in the park, it's one of the few rules to protect this incredible place. Anyone who has been here knows why, the winds in Patagonia are a force unto themselves. But a group of people thought this rule didn't apply to them. With a mixture of despair and anger I watched thick red/brown clouds spill over the ridges and fill the whole valley with smoke...and i cried.

It was just luck that I was able to get back to the park. My friend Mauricio is a guide and had some clients coming in and he invited me to tag along under the title of his assistant. Yesterday went fine, and I was able to visit parts of the park I had not seen before. 

Sadly, today we woke up to the news that there is a fire in the park and the circuit is closed, the w is closed and they are trying to evacuate the park. We were on different trails off the main circuit and could see the smoke like a haze over the base of Paine Grande and the curenos. When we arrived at the trail head he was stopped by some of his friends that are rangers here and they asked for his help to fight the fires. He knows the park well and has fought fires before. He agreed and asked me to do him a favor. Of course I agreed, anything I can do to help. 

He asked me to lead the clients on two small hikes so he could go help the firefighters and guide them through back routes to where they need to be. With a fierceness in his face he told me: I have to go. It's like watching my house burn. I can't just stay here and do nothing. They need my help and I can help. I have to go, will you do this for me? 

If my heart felt like it was breaking I can't imagine how he must have felt. I fell in love with this place and am just barely getting to know it. He has invested years of his life here. If there is anything I can do, without a doubt I will do it. So I led the treks while he ran off with the firefighters. 

The fire started somewhere between guardos and grey, in the old-growth forests that borders magnificent Glacier Grey. This part of the park is home to the elusive Huemules, foxes and a rich blanket of flora specific to the bosque. 

I believe in the power of the collective. I believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe that the thoughts, prayers, vibrations, words, actions of one individual can make a profound impact...and that impact is magnified within our families, friends and communities. 

I am asking you all to do your part and collectively we can hold in our consciousness the safety and well-being of all of those who rushed in to fight the fire and for a quick and harmonious end to it.

I saw young men, old men, military personnel, park rangers, gauchos and guides leave everything behind and in a moment load up horses, on foot, in cars and boats to reach the beginnings of the blaze and to battle it. This is their home. This is their prize. This is their livelihood and they are struggling to save it.

Friends I have met in my time here in Natales and in the park are there. I hold them and their families wrapped so firm in loving thought and ask you to do the same.

It's at times like this that we all are forced to remember that we are the caretakers of this world. It is an incredible responsibility. Our actions do make a difference...for better or worse. Let us now do our part to try and support those who need it in any way we can.

This is my prayer: to know that love is the force at work. To know that strength, courage and wisdom are guiding the men who face this fire. To know that this can and will be resolved quickly, harmoniously and without loss of life. With hope and faith...I pray.

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