Not like we ever stopped wandering once we ran out of earth though. We just had to start manufacturing reasons to move. Nowadays (you know, the past 1,000 years or so) scientific inquiry and monetary gain seem the most common reasons for undertaking a far-flung journey. I suspect the oft-mentioned “finding oneself” is up there as well, though anyone who needs to travel to the ends of the earth to learn who they are probably has more issues than a rail car or even a sail boat is equipped to deal with. But perhaps my favorite journey justification is Bruce Chatwin’s, who traces his desire to visit Patagonia to “ a piece of brontosaurus” that inflamed his imagination from his grandmother’s curio cabinet. Turns out that the Brontosaurus was actually a petrified piece of skin from a Mylodon – a 400lb, 10 foot tall ground sloth native to Patagonia that went extinct right around the time that humans were populating the region.
In the 1940’s, as Europe was recovering from the ravages of WWII, Juan Peron, Argentina’s populist president helped turn the country into something of a haven for Nazi war criminals seeking to escape prosecution. Big name war criminals wound up fleeing for Argentina. Before he was captured, and tried in Jerusalem, Adolf Eichmann spent time working at a Mercedes Benz factory in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. There’s even a whole community of conspiracy theorists who claim that Hitler and Eva Braun didn’t die in a Berlin bunker, but rather escaped to live out their days at a chalet in the Andes resort town of Bariloche. Facts or not, truth is that Patagonia is a grand place to base a story.