Explorer Mikael Strandberg

After six weeks of guiding in South America

Well, I thought I would get lots of time to write, but being a guide takes all your energy. But I love it! But, see this letter below written a day ago in Rapa Nui:

It is once again time for me to return back to Sweden. This time after six fantastic weeks as a guide in South-America. At the same time, last year, also after guiding a group through Patagonia, I felt the biggest worry of my life. I had no idea at all what was waiting for me back home. And the time that followed, turned out to be some of the worst moments of my life. This time however, even though I still don´t have an idea what life has in store for me, I look forward to whatever, a lot! I have healed well during these six weeks and a genuine return to life again, it is. Well, as healed a complicated personality like me can feel…..

I have once again had the privilege to return to Patagonia, so during the last three weeks, I have heard the thunder from the great Iguazu Falls, I´ve seen the gigantic southern right whale starring at me from a yards distance, been to the end of the world, had some great seafood in Ushuaia, ridden over the dry Patagonian Steppe with a great group of clients, but most of all, I have had the uttermost privilege to visit Rapa Nui, or Easter Island. This very mystic island located, really, in the middle of nowhere, so far from any other land, around 4000 km from the Chilean Mainland and as far away from Tahiti. Before arriving to the island, I´ve heard quite a few positive comments about the Island, but also, far more, negative comments about Rapa Nui. Man has really changed the face of the Island, there´s hardly any trees left on this piece of volcanic rock that once, before the arrival of man, was entirely covered by a native palmforest. Personally, after having been a professional explorer for the last 25 years, I thought I had seen pretty much everything. I was wrong. I wasn´t prepared at all for Rapa Nui. It is, no doubt, a highlight of my life. There´s definitely something very special with this odd island, surrounded by this vast ocean called the Pacific. It is a tiny spot in a vast ocean of blue. It is indeed the statues, or the Moais, as they´re called who has made me full of awe. They´re put there by the local Polynesians, facing the land and its people, with its backs towards the Ocean, so free of worry that other people would arrive, but they´re still doing what they were set there to do. To inspire people, to give people the strength of their forefathers. It is called mana in the local Polynesian tongue. And, even though, we, me and my group of 16 people, have encountered and experienced some of the most spectacular scenes made by nature on this trip, the Iguazu Falls, the glaciers and icebergs of southern Patagonia, still, we all feel knocked over by the sight of the moai. Maybe because they´re man made. However, personally, the most intriguing discovery is that these Polynesians who arrived here, forget the Heyerdahl theory, about 1200 years ago from, well, maybe as far away as New Zealand on the other side of the Pacific, they did start to navigate this gigantic part of the earth, around 40 000 years ago. Now, this is far before the arrival of man to the Americas…..It has given me ideas….

One of the things on my wishlist before leaving Sweden, was that these 6 weeks in South-America would pave the way for a new Expedition, since after doing the Kolyma expedition, well, I felt, what more can I do in my life? It felt like an end, an enormous emptiness. Well, things are once again beginning to develop….

Another thing which I have had in my thoughts, is that I´ve spent a lot of time thinking about emigration. Patagonia in itself is made up of pioneers and emigrants, people who have left their countries of birth to begin a new life. It sounds like a great prospect. Something worth trying. I am getting fed up with the foreseeable.

Finally, being and working as a guide is pure joy. It seems that I am very lucky with just having great clients all the time. They teach me so much about life and things, and for me, to share my experience of life and my travels and perspective of life, well, it is an honor.

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