Three meter-high waves were hitting the ferry boat that cold winter night of 1970.
It was pitch-dark outside and the only sounds I could hear were harsh metallic noises coming from the guts of this weird looking floating thing very similar to the ones Allies used to disembark at D-Day in Normandy.
I was feeling veeeerrrry sick and I wasn't the only one judging by the look of other passengers standing nearby.
And I was very excited as well.
At fifteen years of age I was navigating Magellan Strait between Puerto Porvenir and Punta Arenas, at the very end of the South American continent.
My journey has started in Bariloche (Nahuel Huapy National Park) were I was working as a tourist guide and after crossing Patagonia overland I was doing my first international border crossing to Chile.
From then on I've never stopped travelling for long.
After South America, I set out to discover other continents and nothing has changed so far even today thirty something years later.
Explored the Amazon jungle first time in 1975
navigated the Amazon river and slept in the open under the biggest stellar firework I've seen in my life.
It was going to be the Australian outback some years later where I experienced the same feeling and abysmal love I hold for nature an open spaces.
In fairness I began traveling since I was in diaper land.
My mom's passion for geography, history and exotic destinations became my own so you can imagine what I started doing at a young age, when my world wasn't confined to the pram any longer.
That tiny little village in Argentina where I was born and raised marked my existence forever.
The village grew bigger and South America became my home and the anchor of my life. Later on I set out to discover the rest of the world.
My name might strike you as foreigner though
but don't let it happen. Argentina is provably the most European influenced country in the whole region. Just to open any phone book would prove that.
Born in Argentina with Italian and Irish ancestry.
Not surprisingly I'm based in Dublin at present time after spending many moons in Rome.
However, hardly a year goes by without a journey back to South America once again.
Whether on an overland journey throughout South America exploring Easter Island, the Pampas or Patagonia, crossing USA with my old van vagabonding in Europe for month in a row or living with Australian Aborigines in Tanami desert, I have lost more friends than I can remember.
Sure, a simple postcard was and still is a great way to say hello from distant lands providing one has and address to write to of course.
But how do you keep in touch with other travellers when everyone is on the road as well?..
Not a chance.
At least not in those days way before email messaging appeared on the horizon and the world became a small village as they say.
Of course, Poste Restante it's always been handy for that, but requires a fixed itinerary though, which I've never been particularly fond of. I'd rather keep my options open while on the road instead of being constrained by decisions made at early planning stages.
Have found that when I let life to find me only good things happen as a consequence. Furthermore, to travel with an open agenda and leaving room for the unexpected is the highest and most rewarding journey of discovery in the life of every long-term traveler.
By the end of the 90s I was living in the Rita Jay, an old wooden boat moored at Moss Landing, small fishing port in Santa Cruz bay while pursuing Digital Imaging studies at the University of California.
Those were happy days filled with the freshest shark fillets I've ever grilled, while watching seals swimming alongside the boat.
It was like living in an aquarium or something of that sort, with millions of birds all over the place.
Noisy neighbours though.
It took me some time to get used to their eating habits.
Sea gulls, cormorants (and other feathered accomplices) would drop mussels on the roof ot my boat only to eat them once they were cracked open at my own expense and without the benefit of a dinner invitation either.
So my nights were filled with Toc...Toc...Toc...every couple of minutes or so.
Anyway I took it as part of the joy of traveling.
Those were the days before the .com explosion when websites flourished like mushrooms in the Silicon Valley area and e-commerce revolutionized the world of conducting business forever.
It was then when I decided to travel the cyberspace as well and see where it could lead me to. The idea matured in Rome and later decanted in Dublin where Unique South America Travel Experience.com was born in 2006.
Today the website receives a healthy amount of monthly visitors both in English and Spanish languages and has become one of the fastest growing sites on South America on the Net.
Thanks a lot for that!...we wouldn't be there without you.