Friendships Forever: Penguins in Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas was Shaun’s final destination before leaving me and flying back home to Vancouver. The city is the most common way for travelers to enter or exit Chilean Patagonia by air, so it’s more of a travel hub, rather than a sought after backpacking destination. The only attraction that we were interested in seeing was the Magdalena Penguin Colony.

Our stay here was really relaxed and slow paced. We stayed in a nice private room at a B&B and spent most of our time relaxing and watching movies. It was a pleasant break from the fast pace of our trip up to this point. It was nice to just hang out and be lazy for a couple of days.

The only time we did anything active was during our half-day penguin tour. The tour started first thing in the morning and the boat took us to Magdalena Island, home to 60,000 pairs of mating penguin. This was my first time being around Penguins and it was a wonderful experience. The little birds are so cute. I can sit and watch penguins for hours, without getting board (I did this in Antarctica, so I know).

On the tour, we had to stay on a roped off path that separated us from the penguins. However, occasionally a penguin or group of penguins would walk onto the path and get really close. One really bold penguin even came up and started biting my pant leg. The hour that we had on the island flew by and before long, we were on our way back to Punta Arenas.



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Punta Arenas marked the end of my time traveling with Shaun. It seems like forever now, since we left Vancouver together and first arrived in Buenos Aires. I remember feeling really excited when he finally committed to the trip back in December. About a month before I was leaving for South America, Shaun was talking about how his work was making him use up all his vacation days, so I said off hand, that he should join me in Patagonia.

At first I didn’t think he was actually serious about it, so it was a pleasant surprise when he committed and booked his flight. I had not had a friend from home join me on one of my backpacking trips since Thailand, back in 2010 with Brad, Steve and Brett.

I usually prefer to travel solo. I find that I meet a lot more people and I feel like I have more freedom. Occasionally, with travel buddies that I meet around the world, we get to a point where we feel like it’s time to go our separate ways. Nothing against them, but it can be hard to see so much of somebody for an extended period of time.

Traveling with someone is just like living with someone. I’d say it can be even more challenging, since when traveling, you are always together, whereas, you don’t always see your roommates. It’s not uncommon to see really good friends have a falling out while traveling together, or to see couples break up. When traveling solo, it’s easy to part ways and find new people to travel with if things aren’t going well. It’s a bit harder to do this while traveling with friends from home.

In this case, I didn’t have this concern. We’ve been through so much together already that three weeks of travel didn’t worry me at all. When we tell people that we have been friends since we were 5, people are usually surprised. Apparently, it’s not that common of a thing. It’s hard to believe that we have been friends for 22 years now.

During that time, we’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve grown apart and then back together. Now, 22 years later, our friendship is as strong as it’s ever been. After surviving the school playground, living as roommates twice, traveling together and everything in between, I believe our friendship will last forever.

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I feel blessed to have such amazing friends in my life. One of my favourite topics to bring up with people I meet is what their dreams and goals are. I meet so many people that have big dreams and who want to make positive changes in their lives. Yet, they say it’s so hard to change and pursue their dreams because the people in their life either intentionally or unintentionally hold them back. It’s like when you put multiple crabs in a bucket together.

If you put one crab in a bucket, the crab will most certainly crawl right out. However, as soon as you put more than one crab in the same bucket, you no longer have to worry about any of the crabs escaping. If one crab tries to climb out, the other will pull it back down. Then if the second attempts to escape, the first will grab hold of it.


“Crab Mentality” refers to the mentality of “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” This happens all the time. This happens with our “so called” friends who see us a certain person and don’t want to see us change. When we start to grow, they feel like they have two choices to avoid being left behind. The first is to grow with us and the second is to pull us back down to their level. Growing is hard work. It’s painful and uncomfortable. It’s so much easier to pull us down, so that’s what they usually do.

We can also be pulled down by the people that care about us the most, who unintentionally hold us back. “Don’t get your hopes up.” “I’ve heard of someone who tried that and failed. I don’t think you should try.” “You should be more realistic.” Have you ever heard any of these or something similar? People say these words with good intentions, because they don’t want us to get hurt, but these are the worst things you can say to someone you care about. These words are dream killers.

Yes, we can avoid pain by playing it safe, within our comfort zone our entire life. However, by living this way we also guarantee that we will never grow and get what we really want in life. I say, get your hopes up. Be unrealistic. Go for your dreams. If you fail, so what? Get up and try again.  Success is on the far side of failure. Thomas Watson, founder of IBM said, “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”

I highly recommend taking some time to ask yourself, how the associations in your life are influencing you? Are there people that are having a negative influence on your life? And if so, are you okay with that?

Disassociating with people is probably the hardest decision that one has to make on their journey of personal growth and it really shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, I personally, would rather spend my time with people who share a common future, rather than just a common past.

I believe that what’s even more important than disassociating or limiting associations is to expand your associations. Start associating with people that do share a common future. People that are going to tell you that you can, instead of that you can’t. People that will believe in you, perhaps, even before you believe in yourself.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by friends who support me in the pursuit of my dreams. To have friends who push me to take risks and to live outside my comfort zone. To have friends who give me honest feedback because they care. To have friends who encourage me to change and grow. To have friends who have their own big dreams and who want to join me on my journey of personal growth.

I’m not going to name names. You know who you are. You’ve inspire me to become a better person and better friend. Thank you so much. Friends forever.

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  1. says

    Wow Jared! Amazing post…I got goosebumps reading through the beginning to end. I couldn’t have said it any better. Dream Big, because why the fuck not right?

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