WKND contributor Brysen Horowitz ‘19 spent the fall semester in Argentina. He documented his time there in a memorable series of Facebook posts. What follows is an unedited compilation of his updates.
Sept. 28, 2016: Settling in nicely amidst the cool Patagonian breezes. I have chosen to take a semester off and devote myself to two simple things: me, and spiritual flourishing. The Incas of Peru (from whom I personally have so much to learn) used to have an old saying that goes, “Among the valleys and peaks of Patagonia you will uncover the peaks and valleys of your soul’s destiny.” Personally I have found this to be VERY true. Whether I’m preserving mulberries or hanging clothes to dry on a rustic wire, I feel VERY connected here.
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Rustic healing amidst modern madness. If you’ve never fallen asleep in a mulberry bush reading Don Quixote — you absolutely have to. And besides, if you’re as harried as I was “back in New Haven” (we all know what a wringer that place can be!), you deserve more for yourself — spiritually, and in terms of mulberry, and rest.
Rest. If you have time today, meditate, as my host-farmers Gabriel and Gabriela do each noontime, on the word “Rest,” or “Resto” if you’d prefer. Think about agriculture, and literature, and what it ACTUALLY means to be Latin — like I do constantly, on my semester off. Much love to all of you on the outside. More soon!
Oct. 7, 2016: Update! Adobe construction seems to have become a bit of a passion of mine; and I’m not talking about the software package! I’m assisting my agricultural hosts in the construction of a “natural house.” By now, the vigorous tap-tapping of Gabriel’s chainsaw against PVC pipe is comforting and even spiritual for me to hear. As he toils on the upper level, I methodically restring hay bales below on what is likely a vintage hay bale press.
After a day’s toiling in the sweat of my brow (typically about 16 hours, which can feel like a lot), I often bathe. After that, I have time for literature. I’ve gotten through many classic novels such as “The Old Testament” and “Chocolate para Maria.” I really gravitate toward novels with recipes!
Last night, curled up under native blankets against the frigid Patagonia night, on my threadbare mattress in the back of a very clean barn, I got to thinking: how many guys are this lucky? I’m learning about a whole different part of the world, but also learning so much about ME at the same time. Kinda weird, no? Ok, Tacho the dog is barking! Gotta go pet him!
Oct. 13, 2016: Wow. It’s just … I’ve never been this healthy. My muscles rippling with the imprint of countless hay bales restrung. My skin red and taut from the dry Patagonian sunshine. I’ve just never felt this alive. Or had so low a BMI.
Thanks for thinking of me, everyone. I realize increasingly on my semester away from the chaotic hustle and bustle, how interconnected all life and matter on this green earth are. Please — do what you can. I know I am.
November 1, 2016: Ok hi. I don’t normally post serious stuff on Facebook but I felt like I had to give you some info on what I’m up to! So, I woke up last Thursday and they said it was a holiday (“multiculture day”) and that we were going to a “government parade celebration” (my translation lol!). Long story short, we drove three hours to this place in the desert where they make flip flops with native prints of all sorts. I’m not sure if it’s in Patagonia, but it’s a really unique and fascinating landscape. Anyway, I work in a factory now!!
I hadn’t anticipated this leg of my journey, but it’s been a blessing to meet such sedate native people, and the oatmeal diet has really helped me shed unwanted pounds. Gabriel and Gabriela said they’ll come back whenever I want. I have no way of contacting them, though, which is a bummer. Stole a guard’s phone to post this. Woops, I think he’s coming. Anyway, please take a semester off if you haven’t. It expands your mind, and new languages are SO importanftahhfuucc!!!opsdifjaspodifjosdiuf09¡k’`pñ´ç
Nov. 3, 2016: Hello, this is Brysen’s parents, Scott and Yvette. Thank you for all the concerned messages about Brysen’s whereabouts! We were also anxious to find out what had happened. We believe he has been sold into a complex and submerged slave labor network that spans much of South America, so he could be anywhere, so to speak! We are doing our best to track him down.
And one more thing! Please do not let this dissuade you from choosing to travel abroad on your own, even if you are as guileless as our Brysen! It will give you a much-needed reality check that you just can’t get in the U.S.! We know from his Snapchats that no matter what happens to him, the time away from school has been really, really valuable.
Ok merci beaucoup! Tata for now.