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Scots in Argentina
Across the Andes — a parable

Life has often been likened to a journey. We set out; we travel; we keep on traveling and at last we arrive.

Some time ago it was my lot to cross the Andes again on a visit to Valparaiso. From Buenos Aires to Mendoza is twenty hours steady travelling in the express—flat the whole way, and for the most part through pastures green where man and beast were living in peace and comparative plenty, and where the quietness of Nature made one easily forget the hurlyburly of the city. And Life, in its early years is something like that. Every reader of these words had, I suppose, the fortune to be born into a home. The worries of father and mother were not part of your life. All was smooth sailing. When you were hungry there was something for you to eat, and all the time you were being educated against the days of sterner things, when the going would not be so smooth.

As you reach Mendoza the sun is rising, the vineyards stretch far on all sides, and ahead are the foothills, and beyond them the glinting peaks of snow. Things are not so easy now — the going is steep — the outlook is sterner — the air is colder, and even breathing is harder. Up and up, and on and on, and the engine pants and so do you probably, at nearly 11,000 feet. Yet it is all so easy for you compared with the situation your fathers faced when they made the same journey in the long ago. Here and there you can see the path they picked out when they did it on foot or mule-back, suggesting the caution with which man must tackle these rugged slopes. Only the wind can move where it listeth in such regions. Some of the mountains are sulky with clouds — others greet the sun with a cheer — others are grim with shadows. How are you to get round that rock — over that river — through that mountain — to the other side? Yet puff, puff, puff goes the engine — and you go with it. "Faint yet pursuing", like Gideon and his men. "Fed up but sticking it" was the paraphrase an Edinburgh preacher made of that text during the war years.

Life is full of many apparent insurmountable rocks. Faith took you on that train, and Faith takes you far, always.

High up in the Heavens, within sight of majestic Aconcagua (23,000 feet), I saw a condor, king of the crags and corries, swooping down upon something a hare tearing madly across the driven snow. We entered a tunnel, so I did not see the "kill". But down that mighty black bird would swoop and lift that hare in its claws, and rising to a height, drop it on the rocks. Then down again and off with it to its nest. There will be bones only now. And there are bones and mangled wrecks in city and camp the ghoulish work of human condors.

On with the journey, across the frontier and through the mountains the figure of Christ the Redeemer high up on the left, the Inca Lake down on the right, 9000 feet above sea level, whose waters never increase nor decrease. Down, down, into the Aconcagua valley. The scenery becomes greener and gentler, and more magnificent in dignity and distance, till the twinkling lights of Valparaiso with the moon on the bay are seen about midnight.

And life? You, reader, must fill out the parable "I have finished my course, I have kept the Faith." At the Journey’s end, too, Somebody to welcome a pilgrim of the night.

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