It’s strange how you forget that living takes a lot of doing in the absence of society’s conveniences. After over two months of traveling around South America we were beginning to tire of all our transportation, sleeping, and eating needs supplied to us by others. Is a South American adventure really that if you’ve nothing to worry about but where to go and how to not let your stuff get stolen? Hardly. I’d been feeling the urge to do some trekking on our own ever since we left Laguna Quilatoa in Ecuador. Venturing out into the wild in a strange country is more rewarding than blowing your money in a modern tourist town, that’s for sure.
So we did it. We bought a couple sleeping bags and mats, rented a tent, stocked up on 4 days worth of food, and headed out by bus to a little lake nestled between rolling mountains. The first night was only a short walk from the road, in an organized camp site, that cost us 10 pesos each. Since you can’t make fire in the national park, we were happy to stay here and have some cooked food. Hamburgers, cheese, burnt potatoes onions and garlic, boiled eggs, and fresh carrots and green peppers filled our stomach throughout the night. We placed our hotdogs and sandwich meat under a rock and encased in a large branch in the lake so as to keep the meat cold… hoping to eat it the next few days. It was secure when we left it- no small waves from the lake would dislodge it, surely. But to our great dismay and repeated disappointment throughout the rest of the trip, we woke up the following morning to find the rock and branch 10 feet apart, and the bag of meat mysteriously gone. Thieves, we decide, were responsible be they quad or bi-ped… oh well, live and learn. That’s the last time I so readily put my meat in a lake overnight. Protect thy meat!
Down a substantial portion of food supplies, and a tad worried about going hungry the next few days, we took inventory and decided we had enough to hike around the lake- a two day journey in an unpopulated national park. We head out around noon the following day- with tuna, cheese, bread, oatmeal, eggs, snacks, apples, some veggies, and two spuds. We were graced with clear blue skies and nice breezes as we hiked the 7 kilometers to our next campsite- Playa Muñoz. Without another soul in sight, we spend the night wishing we could make fire while relishing each second of our alone time. We noticed that even though we’ve spent every minute of every day together since we began this journey, we haven’t had this sort of time together- the happy, playful time of two unburdened lovers having fun together, like the early days of our relationship. It was refreshing.
The next day we packed our stuff, had a quick breakfast of hardboiled eggs and apples, and headed along the beach to the other end of the lake. Halfway there we hear music bouncing across the water from the opposite side. Assuming the organized camping across the lake has a bar, and looking forward to a beer, we eagerly continue. But as the realization that the silence and peace of our seemingly private natural haven is coming to and end, we stop for lunch in a shaded spot to stretch these moments of joy to their limits. Sick of tuna, we resort to mustard and bread sandwiches, finish off the eggs, and munch some green peppers and carrots. Satisfied, we pick up our packs and continue towards the noise.
Upon arrival, we find that, oddly, this was the day of the annual Encuentro do Motos… or biker party. So, the camp grounds were filled with hundreds of bikers of all sorts, rallying, revving, competing, drinking, and listening to rock and roll music. Thinking that we’re the only hikers there that night and not quite fitting in with the style of these rough and tough biker dudes, we feel a wee bit intimidated. As soon as they start playing Sympathy for the Devil, scenes of that Hells Angels organized Rolling Stones concert where people are stabbed to death grudgingly come to mind. Will we be safe, or will the biker dudes play drunken gringo-baiting as they encircle us with their motos?! Assuming our wild imaginations are probably far from reality, we register and set up our tents for what will surely be a long night…