Up, up, I hike, through the mountainous steppes as I search for geodes of banded agate and crystal. With legs already sore from over 30 kilos of geodes in my backpack, I press on—there’s another one right here, and another just over there. Heading for the summit, I am drawn to a collection of sun-bleached bones. A horse, I think, although no skull can be found. I’ve seen wild horses here before, and I passed another, more complete set of bones in the coulee below. At the summit now, the bones and the view compete for my attention; I’ve always loved bones and the stories I wrap around them, and yet the enormity of a Patagonian landscape grabs at your consciousness with its wildness. This is one of those blank places on a map, an indescribably wild place where you can stretch to your fullest and never touch the edges. I wonder if the horse came to this spot feeling its weakness and waning days, seeking that sense of fullness proffered only by a great expanse of wilderness. What a place to go, I think to myself in admiration, as I turn circles to take in the view. I spend a moment considering the complacent conviction that the world has been made for humans by humans; bewitched by our mad societies we too often forget that there are extraordinary places unresponsive to the flip of a switch or the press of a button and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Immersing myself in this rhythm quells the desperate search for authenticity that often plagues my city days. Finally I glance down to examine the bones, and I’m surprised to see a Pichi—one of the smallest of all armadillos—sunning itself in the meager lee of a weathered leg bone. About the size of a mango, this Pichi hasn’t noticed me, or maybe hasn’t cared to notice me. Out here, it may not have a fear of humans; in its short life I may be the only one it has ever encountered. While talking to the Pichi, I slowly bend down and caress its head. Still showing no fear or distress, I place the whole of my hand over its sun-warmed back. I can feel the slight expansion of its armour each time it inhales. We stay like this for many minutes; the Pichi breathing beneath my hand and I admiring the intricate existence of such an unlikely creature. Touching this armadillo, reliving the last moments of this horse’s life, and taking in the wildness of the landscape around me makes me feel only very recently tamed, as if I could just slip between the blades of grass and belong to this Earth, effortlessly.

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