Don’t Give Up


Hello everyone! How are you? Thank you very much for continuing to read my posts! In the previous post, “My broken tower,” I told you about the whirlwind of events that complicated my trip to the O circuit of Torres del Paine. Luckily, I managed to overcome my knee injury and fulfill my longing to hike the trail, but the truth is there was a wound that was still far from healing. That wound was my separation.


In a nine-year relationship, many bonds, projects, and anecdotes are formed. When that relationship ends, it becomes a mourning period for the individuals involved. That’s exactly how I experienced it.

I with my engineer degree at the university

I remember a work lunch with my coworker. In that lunch I said:

“I have life all figured out! I have a partner, graduated as an engineer, landed a stable job, can travel, and even have the goal of buying a house. What more could I ask for?” LOL that was wrong D.

Well, the reality is that not everything is so certain in life. Sometimes unexpected things happen and shake your foundations.

Returning to my birth home

After completing the O circuit in Torres del Paine, I had to return to my parents’ house. They welcomed me with open arms, but I didn’t feel comfortable with the situation. I saw it as a major setback in my life.

Almost a month after returning from the trip, a new unexpected event occurred: COVID-19.

Pandemic times

In my country, COVID-19 arrived in March 2020. With the global situation becoming more pronounced, Uruguayans took voluntary precautions very seriously. So much so that there was no need to impose mandatory lockdowns; instead, we all did it voluntarily.

Sol and I

At that time, I was living in my parents’ house with my cat Sol. Faced with the imminent recommendation to avoid going out, I decided to move to my parents’ summer house in the La Floresta and take Sol with me.

La Floresta

La Floresta is a beach town in the Department of Canelones, just over 50 km from the capital of the country, Montevideo. This town is very peaceful, where most people go during the summer months. By March, there were already few people in the town, and not many had chosen to go there to isolate themselves due to the pandemic.

La Floresta’s beach in march

In my case, it was a brilliant idea. In this house, I could be calm and find my space to process my grief. The nights were the saddest part of the day. I began to cope with them by lighting the wood stove. This task involved going on small walks to gather firewood and even researching how to start a fire with few resources.

My Instagram story doing fire with cotton and fire stell

The most fun method turned out to be using a fire steel that I bought on my trip to Torres del Paine and a bit of cotton.

The birth of my mantra

One of those sad nights, I remember turning on the TV and watching the speech to his political militancy by the former president of the republic, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez.

My night fires in the La Floresta wood stove

In that speech, Vazquez seeks to uplift his supporters with a poem, which is mistakenly attributed to the Uruguayan writer, Mario Benedetti. I couldn’t find unanimity on who the original author of the poem is, but the most indicated person is Guillermo Mayer. The poem is titled “Don’t Give Up” and goes like this:

Don’t give up, you still have time

To reach out and start anew,

Accept your shadows,

Bury your fears,

Free your burdens,

Take flight again.


Don’t give up, because life is that,

Continuing the journey,

Pursuing your dreams,

Unraveling time,

Moving the rubble aside,

And uncovering the sky.


Don’t give up, please don’t give in,

Even if the cold burns,

Even if fear bites,

Even if the sun hides,

And the wind is silent,

There’s still fire in your soul,

There’s still life in your dreams.


Because life is yours, and so is the desire

Because you’ve wanted it and because I love you

Because wine and love exist, it’s true.

Because there are no wounds that time can’t heal.


Open the doors,

Remove the locks,

Abandon the walls that once protected you,

Live life and accept the challenge,

Reclaim your laughter,

Practice a song,

Lower your guard and extend your hands,

Spread your wings

And try again,

Celebrate life and reach for the skies.


Don’t give up, please don’t give in,

Even if the cold burns,

Even if fear bites,

Even if the sun sets and the wind is silent,

There’s still fire in your soul,

There’s still life in your dreams

Because each day is a new beginning,

Because this is the hour and the best moment. Because you’re not alone, because I love you.”

This poem became a mantra for me. During my stay in La Floresta, I would go on solitary walks, reciting and memorizing each stanza of the poem. In my mind, I saw it as a guide and felt it as a path towards the healing of my being.

The reappearance of the PCT

One night, another significant event occurred, which I mentioned in my first post “Why I’m hiking the PCT“: the birth of a small bond with Romina Mena. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how a young Chilean, who was undertaking something as colossal as the Pacific Crest Trail, would take the time to respond to my messages of encouragement. I began to cling to her story, to follow her, and to draw inspiration from her. I tried with all my might to send her energy during her toughest moments on the trail. It was here that my dream, my adventure, began to take shape. I said to myself: why not try to hike the PCT, Diego?

The First problems

Contemplating doing the PCT was a monumental challenge; I had too many fronts to cover to be able to go.

  • The first was an economic issue: with my separation, I was left with a large debt from a house I had bought with my ex-partner.
  • The second, how could I leave my job, for which I had fought since my childhood to attain?
  • The third, how could I obtain permission to enter the United States for six months to do the PCT?
  • And finally, my lack of knowledge in many aspects of trekking and, in this case, thru-hiking.

The Plan

Being a good planner, I mentally tackled each of these problems individually.

  • Regarding the economic issue, I decided to secure a second job and rent out my house. This way, I could generate small incomes that would eventually allow me to cover the expenses of the PCT.
  • As for the second problem, I inquired at my workplace about the possibility of taking unpaid leave, and to my surprise, it was an option. Since I wouldn’t receive a salary during this type of leave, I also decided to start accumulating my accrued leave days since 2020.
  • For the third problem, I researched on the website of the U.S. embassy and discovered the possibility of obtaining a B2 visa, which would allow me to stay on U.S. soil for a maximum of 180 days.
  • And finally, we come to the fourth problem: my technical skills for thru-hiking. This was quite a challenging task, especially in a country without mountains or hiking culture.


The pandemic times managed to accelerate the process of bringing course offerings online. This is how I came across Azimutrek (AZ), an Argentine company dedicated to training mountaineers.

Pablo Bravo teaching

Its director, Pablo Bravo, decided to launch an online course where he provided all the theoretical part of his trekking and mountaineering course. The practical part would then be conducted in person when COVID-19 allowed. In a future post, I will tell you about what I learned with AZ.

What I want to share here about that course is that, besides learning a lot, I began my personal healing process. Never before in my life had I enjoyed theoretical classes as much as I did with AZ. I managed to merge my engineering knowledge with Bravo’s masterful classes. That connection motivated me and made me grow. If I refer back to Guillermo Mayer’s poem “Don’t give up yet you’re still in time, to reach and start again…” in the course, I managed to open up, as the poem says, “Lowering my guard and extending my hands… abandoning the walls that protected me.” To my surprise, my classmates in the course showed me incredible affection. They made me feel very good, they made me feel loved again. I was astonished, I couldn’t believe how people who didn’t know me wanted to chat with me, and they even invited me to their homes when the pandemic passed. It was amazing for me.

Ceci and Martin

Ceci, Martín and I

During this process, two more people emerged with an impressive force that shook me to the core. They were Ceci and Martín, the friendly couple I mentioned in my previous post “My broken Tower,” who accompanied me on the O circuit of Torres del Paine. They practically adopted me as a son, despite me being older than them. With the country’s borders closed due to the pandemic, we decided to take a domestic vacation and explore Uruguay through trekking.

Valle del lunarejo

Indio Waterfall

The three of us decided to go trekking in the northern part of the country, exploring an area where Uruguay was born.

In the north of my country lies the geological formation known as the Haedo Ridge, which allows for the entrance of a beautiful subtropical jungle front.

We explored the Valle del Lunarejo and, to our surprise, found many trails and well-informed guides about the country’s geology. We spent 4 days in the area, exploring incredible places where Uruguay’s rural culture and the particular geology of the region merge.

Cascada Grande

One of the places that impressed us the most was the Cascada Grande. It was truly massive! We couldn’t believe that in our country, where the only tourist attractions are the beaches, there existed such a large and little-known waterfall.

Treinta y Tres

Sailing thru Olimar River

We arrived at the lands of the Olimar River, a beautiful river that flows through this area, characterized by its geological formation of gorges.

Camp in the French countryside with views of the Quebrada de los Cuervos

This area of the country is more well-known than the Valle del Lunarejo and has self-guided trails. We met a French man who lived on a farm overlooking the gorge, and he allowed us to camp on his land. It was an amazing experience, where Ceci, Martín, and I realized that we were very prepared and automated in the logistics of camping.

This is crucial when trekking, as it involves all the organization of meals, tasks, and necessary resources to survive without the small bourgeois comforts we have in the city.

Flowers in Cañada del Brujo

An incredible place we visited was the Cañada del Brujo. After a hike of a couple of hours, we arrived at a ravine that seemed like a hidden paradise. If you don’t believe it, just look at the magnificence of the photos of the place.

Cañada del Brujo

Sierras de Rocha

As we practically reached the southern coast of Uruguay, we encountered an area known as the Rocha Hills. The department of Rocha is renowned for its incredible beaches, but what people may not know is that it also boasts incredible hills.

Native trees in Sierras de Rocha

This area is protected by many local inhabitants, mainly of European nationalities. I say protected because in Uruguay, there is a strong impact of afforestation for cellulose paste production. These residents purchased the land around the entire hill to halt the advancement of eucalyptus plantations, a non-native tree in Uruguay used by cellulose production plants and with significant impact on the country’s flora and fauna.

I working in my tent

Thanks to the efforts of these residents, we were able to explore the hills, camp in them, and experience nights of great joy and revelry, which will be forever cherished in my heart.


Here I conclude this post about myself, about how the idea of ​​traveling the PCT was born and my first steps in planning to achieve that immense goal. In the following posts, you will see how my mantra ‘Never give up’ continues to guide me in life. Thank you very much to all who took the time to read this post.

My PCT journey is approaching, and I already have my permit printed to start on April 11th. I will try to speed up my previous posts because I have many things to tell you, so you can get to know me and understand why I made the decision to live in this dream for six months.

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Comments 2

  • Elizabeth Pageotte : Apr 5th

    Good luck on the PCT. I look forward to reading more about your journey on the PCT.
    Happy Trails.

    • Diego Acuna : Apr 5th

      Really thank you!!! I’m eager to start exploring! Just a little while left until April 11th.


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