Notes On Receiving Contributor's Copy of Fodor's Patagonia

Argentina Narrative
by David Miller Mar 11, 2009
David Miller ‘reflects’ on what it’s like finally getting a contributor’s copy, and how it felt traversing some of the emptiest roads in the Americas.

One of the interns at Random House emailed me the other day to confirm my mailing address. She was sending out my contributor’s copy of Fodor’s Patagonia. I’d almost forgotten about this, honestly. I turned in my ‘chapter’ over a year ago. That’s how it works with book publication.

I haven’t had time to flip through this book. You check your name, bio, scan your words. Yep. They got everything right. “Atlantic Patagonia is where the low windswept pampas meet the ocean.”

Shadow of our car on pampas. Bring extra water and gear.

But for a couple minutes I was re-transported to that place.

We’d flown from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn, then rented this econo-box ford.

We took the coastal road more than 50 miles from Camarones to Bahia Bustamante. The ruts and sand in the washouts were deeper than the tires.

It was like 4-wheeling in a golf-cart.

Layla was only two-months old then and I felt nervous the whole time. The pampas went on forever. The ocean went on forever. There was nobody around anywhere. I kept thinking ‘if we had my van and camping gear and surfboards this would be all-time.’

But I wasn’t there on a surf mission. I was there to tour this place and write. I was there to check the beds and food and scene and shopping. I was over it almost as soon as the first hotel manager showed me a ‘typical room.’

Mainly I was a young dad and didn’t know where the hell we were going after this.

Standing there with the book, all of this came back and I felt almost nostalgic. Maybe not quite nostalgia, but a certain cariño. A kind of tenderness. Some feelings are easier to describe in Spanish.

I flipped through just a bit more to look at what hermano Tim Patterson had written. I felt kind of proud both of us had contributed to this book.

For a second I had this weird delusion like somehow in the future this volume would be referred to as some kind of literary travel writing masterpiece. Generations of young travel writers would be studying our words.

I love Patagonia in a different way than any other place. It’s just wide open. Tim had written a special section called “Into the Wild” that conveys the feeling perfectly: “Patagonia will shatter your sense of scale.”

I feel the need to be shattered again. And yeah, I’d take this book.

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