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At 2am R woke up in a panic that he’d left his wallet in the car and that it might get stolen. It’s pitch black outside, we’re staying in a refuge in the middle of nowhere where there are tarantulas wandering around, and he wants me to walk a few hundred metres to the car in my nightshirt, to look for his friggin wallet. I refuse to get out of bed knowing full well that the crime rate outside of the major cities is negligible, but he can’t stop the thought chain, and despite his balance problems gets up, dons his walking boots (and PJ’s – his walking around naked would have been the last straw) and sets off with a walking stick. 60 seconds later he’s back, mumbles that it’s too dangerous, and crawls back into bed and instantly falls asleep again. I’m now so wired that of course I can’t sleep, and once it’s light go and get the wallet. The things we do for love! Or in my case the things we won’t do because frankly I’m brave but not that brave.

By 9am we’re all set for our 16km walk in Tricahue Park, hoping to avoid the worst of the afternoon heat. It feels good to get up early again. I used to be a morning person, but hating your job soon puts an end to that. Out here we can’t wait to find out what each day will bring. Not watching telly at night also helps. We’re both at our best in the great outdoors, and as a result our energy and stamina has returned quickly. Which is a good job as we’ve not walked a long way in a wee while thanks to my third slipped disc. Not that I’m complaining. Such things help you appreciate your health and fitness when you do have it, or at least when it’s good enough to enable you to get out and do what you love, which for us is walking in the hills, and when we get the chance, kayaking.

7.5 hours later what we thought would be a pleasant 9 mile stroll has turned into something of an adventure! A few hours in we stopped worrying about the spiders. Holding on to foliage to stop yourself falling a few hundred feet down a steep slope into the river kind of has that effect. We suspect that the original path has been washed away as we were then diverted across the river but the heat and exertions made the dip most welcome. The first half of the walk – the red route on the map available at the beginning of the trail was mainly uphill but the path was wide and clearly signposted. The second part is much less so. You need to keep your wits about you as it would be easy to lose the trail, and your footing, despite the route having been classed as moderately difficult – in the UK you’d have warning signs up as we get used to being molly coddled! And yet the views make up for it all. By the time we get down to level ground we’re both dehydrated, absolutely knackered, and in need of a dip in the pool, but we’ve enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

A hot solar shower and several litres of water later, we  decide that we’ll have an easy day at the refuge tomorrow. I have to take a tryptan as a migraine starts to rear it’s ugly head, and Rich is trying to teach me how to rehydrate using the Ray Mears method. I’m not allowed to stop drinking until I’ve been to the loo twice and my urine isn’t canary yellow. Fair enough it works and we’re able to get off the floor (at least in my case – I’d lain my weary head on my duffle bag when we got in, and not moved for an hour) and start thinking about dinner. The refuge is full tonight so we’re going to cook early to beat the crowds. We appear to have bought a whole slab or pork rather than chops but at least there’ll be plenty for tomorrow.

Reading back through my travel journal as I write this up, it’s fascinating to note how quickly we ‘tuned in’ to our environment and the set up of wherever we were staying. Day 4 and we were already talking about building our own little wooden cabana back in the UK, and when we think about the wildlife rather than getting goosebumps we were genuinely excited at the prospect of seeing something we wouldn’t normally see. I suppose this goes to show that we shouldn’t let our fears stop us achieving our dreams, as the fear is far scarier than reality.

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