Andes trek keeping her dreams Alive
You can’t say Jamie Swallowell doesn’t follow her dreams.
This January, Swallowell will follow her passion from Jasper all the way to a remote glacier in Argentina. That’s where the 34-year-old will spend two nights near the site of the infamous 1972 plane crash in the Andes—the accident that gripped the world after Uruguayans Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa climbed out of the mountains to find help for 16 survivors. The group—along with 29 others who perished—had been missing for two months.
The miraculous journey spawned the 1993 movie Alive, starring Ethan Hawke. It also spawned a passion in a 12-year-old Swallowell. When she saw the trailer for the film, she knew she had to see it. What she didn’t know, was how important the story would become in her life.
“I felt a crazy connection to it,” she said. “Something about the movie resonated with me.”
So much so that she kept returning to it—in school essays, speeches and eventually on her vision board (a tool used to maintain focus on a specific life goal). Swallowell always believed she would someday meet her hero, Nando Parrado.
“His story is about human triumph, about overcoming the odds,” she said.
Jaime herself has a story about overcoming the odds. In 2010 her beloved dog Breeze went missing for 51 days, in the winter. While out looking for Breeze everyday, she found strength by recalling Nando’s ordeal
“I was trudging through snow and would hear him saying ‘anything is possible,’” she said.
Eventually, Jaime and Breeze reunited. Five years later, after seeing that Nando was speaking at an event in Nevada, Swallowell told her story to Nando’s publisher via social media. Soon after, the publicist called Swallowell to invite her to Lake Tahoe. After taking in the presentation, Swallowell was among a select few to be invited aboard a private catamaran to have lunch with Nando and his family.
“I had been wanting to meet him my whole life,” she said.
What she hadn’t planned on was meeting a fellow Nando fan who was planning a trip to the Andes. When he asked Swallowell to join him and a crew, including survivor Eduardo Strauch and National Geographic adventurer Ricardo Pena, she didn’t hesitate. The trip, scheduled for the new year, will see her visit the very site that she put on her vision board 10 years ago.
“I don’t know if it’s destiny, or manifesting your dreams, but it’s definitely a check off the bucket list.”