Meet Sanni, the perfect puma-seeking hiking partner.
A lot of my solo travels through Southern Patagonia were quite solitary. Rightfully so; I was travelling in the heart of winter and the typical, party-driven gringo was not interested in shivering at night in sub-zero temperatures at more than a stone’s throw from a hostel happy hour.
Lucky for me, Sanni was not a typical traveler. Sanni and I both found ourselves in Puerto Natales, a small fishing port on the Chilean coast that turns into a vomit of Gore-Tex clad trekkers every summer. The town is most widely known as the hub city for the world-famous national park, Torres del Paine. But I would politely argue that my beef sandwich the size of a Frisbee was equally as remarkable. I mean, Los Cuernos were absolutely stunning, but that was a big sandwich! I should also mention Puerto Natales sits 250km north of Punta Arenas. I mention this because I just love saying “Punta Arenas” (you should try it…).
Sanni and I met in a shared dorm and as hostel-goers do, we exchanged the excruciating hostel conversation:
“Where are you from?”
“Where are you going?”
“How long have you been travelling?”
“Does this smell expired?”
But, I quickly found that Sanni was a rare travelling breed. She was quick-witted, sassy, and had a sense of adventure. After all, she was studying in Spanish at a technological university in Valparaiso, travelling by herself in one of South America’s most rugged areas, and was fluent in English, Spanish, as well as Finnish, her mother tongue. I am sure she spoke other languages, but I stopped listening when I felt completely useless.
After a hectic night of mapping, renting gear, and meal planning, we decided to start the four day “W Trek” at the same time and if we didn’t kill each other, we could at least keep each other company along the way.
As it turned out, I hit the jackpot. It’s not often you can spend four days on a trail with someone as enjoying, generous and kind as Sanni. She laughed at my jokes when I knew she didn’t enjoy them, she taught me Finnish dirty words, and she was always willing to discuss deep things when we were surrounded by some awe-inspiring landscapes.
We discussed our countries similarities and differences from rocky beaches of glacial lakes; we trotted around geological giants while silently agreeing how lucky we were to be there; and we gorged on snacks hourly that could feed a small village weekly.
Sanni unknowingly taught me many things, but two things prevailed more than anything else:
- One, it is so important to be modest. Sanni could have invented the computer, but she is so unassuming, she would have never told me. Through her modesty, I felt respected, important and valued.
- Two, there is no such thing as too many snacks.
When I hastily decided to write about Sanni for thegoodpeople, I read some Finnish sayings to better understand her culture and I came across the completely fitting: Kun menee sutta pakoon, tulee karhu vastaan. Translation: When you flee from a wolf, you run into a bear. The message here is so clear… Finland is terrifying.
Kidding, of course. It’s a saying about going from a bad situation to a worse one and so, it is actually perfectly fitting. Before I met Sanni, I didn’t even know she existed, which is bad. Now she has fortunately entered my life; and as travelling friendships go, I am thousands of miles away and I might never see her again, which is much, much worse. Fighting this bear won’t be easy.
I hope that came across beautifully poetic, because I am smugly proud of that cheesy garbage.
Sanni is, without a doubt, one of thegoodpeople.