“Talk of mysteries! — Think of our life in nature, — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! The actual world! The common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? Where are we?”
Henry David Thoreau
“The Mountains are Calling and I must go.”
“All the songs I compose sound like funeral marches.” Those are the words my brother threw at me while I brooded over this empty page. It’s not that I truly needed the words, or that these add any relevance to the theme I have in mind. It just awakened my mind, to something intriguing I was trying to do.
Make an article, a column.
All my articles work like dysfunctional fishing poles, riling in no catch at all.
Somewhere, deep within the forgotten highlands of every wild countryside in this world, lies my soul. And I am convinced I can try and try again to find it.
Just the way I did, this July 3rd, when I ventured into The Wild.
My fair home, the city of Quito, is situated on one side of a vast valley. It lies on a tilted plateau and will often offer a fantastic view of the Ecuadorian Andes, just across the valley. Few people that I have met, whether they took the 6:45am bus with me every school day or not, understood the meaning of that view; that spectacle across the horizon.
Whether it was dipped with morning moonlight, sunlight, misty morning drizzles, dark, cumulus or white powdered snow, these mountains held the same colossal stature. They might as well have been the gates of heaven calling to me. Their wonder, whispers to me, miles away.
And that is why, on that recent July 3rd, I traveled to the heights of Mt. Aschcuquiru, the dry winds blowing through my hair, the sinking rain to my front.
In 1991, Chris McCandless, walked away from home. He had no more than a backpack, a car he would soon abandon and his will to travel all of continental America. He would transverse the country, remarkably, unbeknownst to his parents or family.
He believed in the ESCAPE. He clamored for some truth outside of the common banalities of civilization. He demanded a calm catharsis outside of the circle of society. And how would he search for it? He would go, Into the Wild.
And that is why, in 1992, he would travel into the wilderness of Alaska, never to return.
As I strode up one of many peaks, on July 4th, making my way across the snarling rock to my front, and hiding in a formidable cave form the merciless rain, I came across a man in my same situation. He looked at me from below and invited me to come and speak to him. I clamored down the smooth hill face, and sat next to him, beside the path.
His squinting eyes, reeled from the mist which poured over his eyelashes. He was middle aged, and dressed raggedly, as if every article of sheltering clothing had been borrowed from someone else. In his left hand he carried an impermeable orange bag.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m up here looking for God.”
And that is why this wet man had planned to live among solitude for 10 days, up in the Andes.
So what am I supposed to tell myself? There is a draw, a tug at my body every second I look over that valley and see the snow peaks, the rugged stones, sitting there, waiting for me. The gentle breezes that blow over my fingertips, calls in guttural moaning’s. It is all calling for me.
And I ask myself: Why do I walk?
I cannot say I am looking for God, nor can I say I am out there looking for truth in my life. Nor can I infamously repeat that I climb mountains because, “They are there.”
And yet when I am walking among snarling jagged peaks, far above cities and all the people in this world, I at least know what I wonder.
Out there, beyond the next mountain, there is a world unlike any I have seen. To think that this lip, this arm of rock, this next ravine, this stream, this forest was never before beheld by mortal human beings.
That is the mystery. Every mountain to behold and climb is a personality. Their falls, their heights, their hapless expressions of rock, ice and snow. They have ravines and smiles, melancholy and cliffs, lifts, and laughter, just like any human being.
In Ecuador, the mountains are presented with names in ancient Quechua, each with its own meaning. The old Ecuadorian tribes believed these were Gods, not pieces of stone.
There is Pasochoa, the widow, Illiniza, the supposedly Sick, Tungurahua, the burning esophagus and that day’s Ashcuquiru, the dog’s teeth.
They all have their depths, their difficulty, their mood, their love, their terror and their love. And these old Gods hide, just beyond what we see in our comfortable homes. Beyond the horizon, lies a world of ancient mysticism that only few know and get to behold.
This is where legends and old gods live, hidden to those who dare not go, Into the Wild.
That is why I walk. Because beyond our couches and chairs, into the mountainous forward, there are places never before seen. They are unexplained mysteries, ancient secrets forgotten; I pray to discover them. Places for dreamers, and beyond, beyond again. Some may call them GOD, others will call them TRUTH and you may call them as you please. However, I call them: THE UNKNON.
I invite you all to walk with me. To join those who dare to wander deep into the mountains, and to see and discover, the UNKNOWN.
Where Riddles lie. Not to be uncovered.
Never to be made clear.
Whatever it is. Take a minute. And look over your shoulder out the window, and into that bottomless horizon.
And what will you see?
Perhaps a place where you ought to be…
Written by Carlos Sevilla
Edited by Emily Perotti