Feliz año nuevo. That’s happy new year in Spanish because I’m writing this from Argentina. I arrived yesterday and have to say that I highly recommend new year’s eve in Buenos Aires.
Today I’ve been on the trail of Eva Perón, the country’s legendary First Lady known the world over as Evita. Pictured below is me outside the famed Casa Rosada – where she preached from the balcony to the Argentinian people. I’ve also been to her museum and grave. I’m always fascinated by extraordinary women – especially those who never had children – eager to find out how they fashioned a life for themselves without motherhood.
But there’s another, bigger, reason I’m here. In a few days time, I’m off to climb a massive mountain. It’s called Aconcagua and I won’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it because I hadn’t until earlier this year. Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas and at 6961 metres, it is over a thousand metres higher than Kilimanjaro which I climbed this time last year. It will take three weeks – so forgive me if my next blog is a little out of sync because massive mountains are one of the few places left in the world which don’t have Wi-Fi – but I’ll be sure to let you know how I got on when I get down.
This morning I started reading The Tango Singer by Tomás Eloy Martínez. It’s set in Buenos Aires and is about a quest to find an elusive tango singer with the most beautiful voice in the world. I love reading books set in the place I’m visiting and, well, you know how much I love quests. First there was my quest to become a mother (more about that in my book The Pursuit of Motherhood). Then there was my quest to swim the English Channel (the subject of – watch this space – my next book 21 Miles to Happiness). And now, I’m on a quest to climb Argentina’s Aconcagua. As I’ve been walking around the city today, I’ve been thinking about how I seem to be making a habit of taking on quests where nature is in control of the outcome not me – she decides whether you have a baby; she also decides whether she’ll let you climb a mountain or a swim a sea. And what these quests are teaching me is that nature is to be treasured and revered but life with or without summits, shores and even children is still a wild and wonderful thing. So in the words of that true tragedienne Evita, whatever happens: don’t cry for me Argentina.