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EcoCamp-Patagonia

Travel is always a means to escape. But if you love what you do, what is it that you are escaping from? Well, travel lets you escape the conventions of your life. Step outside your comfort zone. Come back home with something new to feed your life with even more passion! That's what Marty Papazian and Marina Benedict were looking for when they jetted to the magical Chilean Patagonia to undertake the Torres del Paine Circuit with EcoCamp Patagonia.

You may have seen Marty and Marina without actually knowing it! Marty is an actor and filmmaker who featured in movies like The Island (2005),  Jarhead (2005) and TV show 24 (2006). In 2012, he directed and played a former marine with tortured soul in the poignant Least Among Saints, his first movie (aired in 2012). Marina – apart from being a talented professional dancer – is best known for her roles in TV shows such as Nikki (2000), Southland (2009) and Torchwood: Miracle Day (2011). Both actors – who form an inspiring couple – decided to leave Los Angeles’ studios for a while to hike 138 kilometers of one of the most striking trails in the world, starting on New Year’s Eve! We just had to interview these two passionate life lovers.

Marty Papazian and Marina Benedict at Perros Glacier Between wind, dust and ice: so is the emotion of the Paine Circuit!

What brought you to undertake the Torres del Paine circuit?

Marty: Marina had wanted to come to Patagonia for years. There are many unknowns when planning a trip like this: that it’s so far away, and there’s an obvious language barrier, etc. The 9-day circuit allows you to fully experience the beauty of Patagonia, and doing it through EcoCamp allowed us to have the organization and pace we were seeking.

Marina: It seemed like the perfect combination of adventure and coziness. EcoCamp gives you enough time as a couple to enjoy a romantic time. We knew we did not wanted to be in a hotel, but in an environment that would allow us to experience things you could only see by walking. EcoCamp itself was a good and comfortable base at the beginning and at the end of the trip.

What kind of challenge were you expecting?

Marty: As a couple, we wanted to dive into the land and challenge ourselves all along the trek. We wanted to be together in this experience. Choosing a more “organized adventure” helped us to do just that; for example having porters allowed us to carry less weight while walking, which made the trek much more comfortable.

Marina: We wanted to have a good time, enjoy the scenery, the land, each other: and the walk …Such a trekking experience involves a lot of organization, you have to think about the refuges where you’re going to stay, the food, the weight in your backpack, etc. But as EcoCamp took care of all that, we could trek with no concerns!

Marina Benedict facing the Southern Patagonian Ice Field The immensity of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field: without any doubt a highlight of the circuit!
Braving the wind in French Valley Braving the Patagonian wind in French Valley: a must-do in Patagonia!

How do you feel now you have completed the circuit?

Marty: It’s a once in a lifetime experience! We’ve seen nature in a totally rare and wonderful way. It seems that there are not too many places on Earth like Patagonia. Our bodies feel like we pushed them to beyond what we thought was possible, which is a wonderful feeling. I feel a bit of sadness now the trip has come to an end and that we have to go back home. The people here are kind: the porters, our guide Roberto Carlos, people of the EcoCamp staff... We’ll miss them.

Marina: For more than a week, we formed a small group of international people. We learnt a lot about each other and the social interactions also made the trip unique. I feel so blessed to have seen the wonderful things we got to see, like wild places where only your feet can take you. I love that you have to “earn” these places with your feet. I also loved how well cared for the park is. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the opportunity to have done the Circuit rather than the W Trek, as some of the highlights we saw were outside the W trail!

What was the highlight of the circuit?

Marty: Some of my favorite moments were when we stopped for lunch each day in front of breathtaking landscapes made of forests, mountains and glaciers. I particularly loved the French Valley hike, where we experienced the famous Patagonian winds in a wild, pristine environment.

Marina: Starting at EcoCamp on New Year’s Eve and ending the trip here again was so cool! On the trek, I felt like I had a new favorite place at every corner. It’s impossible to pick just one!

The group at the foot of the towers Who would not cross the world to see such a landscape?
Marty and Marina at Grey glacier lookout Admiring the breathtaking Grey glacier from the lookout
The trail from EcoCamp to Dickson Summer is the right period to experience the Patagonian blossoming...

How do you think cinema can inspire people to undertake this kind of trekking experience?

Marty: We saw 180° South (a 2010 travel documentary, watch the trailer here) before we came here. So much of what they talk about, like the spirit of adventure, conservation and protection, are things we had the opportunity to feel on the circuit. That kind of movie can capture something about the human spirit, and the desire to be free and not shackled to the culture you live in.

Marina: Most people won’t come to this type of places. However, movies (ex: Into the wild (2007), Wild (2014)) and documentaries (such as Ken Burns’ work) can bring these places to people’s consciousness, so they understand how important it is to protect them. Even though some people can’t physically make it, at least they can learn about the importance of such places thanks to cinema.

As artists, how does that kind of trekking experience inspire you?

Marty: Such an experience helps you evolve. You approach your work with a sense of clarity, as you reconnect with what’s really important in life.

Marina: It reaffirms what’s important to me. I think it’s important for every artist to disconnect from the madness of what goes on in our societies today. It allows you to assess where you are in your life, whether it is creatively, with your family, your job, your situation…

What are your upcoming projects?

Marty: I am preparing a film that Marina is going to act in, called Losing in Love. It’s a romantic drama and an independent production. The release date is to be determined, but it should be around January 2016.

Marina: I have a series called Flesh and Bone coming out in May on the Starz network (an American cable). It’s a dark drama set in the world of ballet, made by one of the writers/producers of Breaking Bad (AMC’s successful TV series). I am playing a sort of FG contemporary choreographer that joins this ballet company.

Hiking in French Valley Hiking: the best way to reconnect with what's essential in life!

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