The Gift of the Journey
Stepping outside your comfort zone is an extraordinary opportunity although it's something we often shy away from as we tend to find solace in the routine of our lives. As mothers, we manage our days, our kids and our families. We strive to keep our lives and homes running like well-oiled machines and this requires our constant attention to detail, tireless planning and careful execution. We fiercely handle the unexpected curveballs that are inevitably thrown our way in our daily lives both at home and at work. This is what we know. This is what we do, 24/7. While there is comfort and order in the routines and strategies we establish, forgoing our daily regimens by traveling and letting others completely take over is liberating and life-changing in both large and small ways.
Our group of 22 women just returned from a private Backroads Adventure trip in Argentina's Lake District. While each of us knew at least someone in our group, I was the only person who knew everyone and I must admit that this gave me a bit of angst. The common thread among us was simply that we're all mothers and we all said "yes" to this trip. That's about it. Undoubtedly, each of us had moments of uncertainty about our decision to come along. Concerns included such things as traveling in a foreign country, the unknown Backroads experience, the potential difficulty of the biking and the possibility of not being able to keep up, leaving our families and the chance that somehow we did not belong in this group of women.
From the moment we met our Backroads leaders - Chema, Katarina and Dani, in Bariloche - our group of accomplished, take-charge women began to let go of our insecurities and ease into the rhythm of our adventure. We biked through forests, on gravel and potholed roads, up and over mountain passes and along gorgeous emerald-rimmed lakes in rain, wind and eventually under beautiful sunny skies. We learned about Argentina's yerba mate culture, visited the Mapuche community and Colonia Suiza, and explored Los Arrayanes National Park and Lanín National Park both by bike and on foot. We stood in awe of 300-year-old cinnamon-colored arrayán trees and experienced authentic Argentine asado. We learned how to tango, practiced our Spanish, browsed local artisan markets, ate homemade empanadas and sipped local mate. We hiked, kayaked and soaked ourselves in the welcome hot tubs and pools along the way and even jumped into the beautiful chilly waters of Lago Espejo.
Our fearless leaders flawlessly orchestrated every detail of our trip with confidence, deep knowledge and constant attention to detail, and imparted a sense of joie de vivre that was contagious, allowing each of us to let go a little bit more each day. The roar of our laughter could be heard at all times as we traveled together through this spectacular Seven Lakes region of Argentina. Our bonds strengthened through the hours and days of our shared journey, which included impromptu dance parties in our van and at various hiking trailheads along the way. Our driver would turn on music and before you knew it, we would be singing and dancing with abandon - a Backroads-style warm-up for the hike ahead!
Each day built upon the previous one while a profound sense of camaraderie formed and soon we were like family, our leaders included. In the blink of an eye, our serious and somewhat uncertain selves gave way to the sillier, funnier and freer versions of who we are. As our hearts opened and our connections deepened through laughter and tears, we shared a kaleidoscope of emotions which were met with spontaneous encouragement, support, compassion, empathy and, most of all, humor. It was liberating for all of us to have Backroads take care of every single detail. How nice it was to wake up each morning to someone else cooking breakfast and serving us cappuccinos, choosing and packing our yummy snacks for the day ahead, arriving at a lovely picnic lunch, and having Backroads there at all times to attend to our every need. We rode or hiked or luxuriated all day and then indulged in fabulous meals and daily toasts each evening. We didn't have to think or do or organize for anyone. Our only job was to ENJOY and we were spoiled! While all good things must come to an end, I have returned better than when I left and I am so happy to be reunited with my family. My tank is full, my heart is overflowing and I have memories that will last a lifetime. I will keep this fire going and dream about what's next.
Thank you, Backroads, for this unforgettable experience. This trip was good for my mind, my body and my spirit. Thank you Chema, Katarina and Dani for your daily doses of high fives, hugs, genuine interest in each of us, your extraordinary patience, and for sharing the love for what you do. And thank you sweet friends for stepping outside your comfort zones and saying "YES!"