Christmas morning was cold with a haze so thick we couldn't see the mountains in front of us. But, on the plus side, Santa had brought us generic Twinkies and tea which we sipped from the Styrofoam ramen cups saved from dinner the night before. After our underwhelming breakfast, it was time to pack up camp and begin the long drive to El Calafate, over the border into Argentina.
An hour into the drive it started raining relentlessly. Then we ran out of gas. When we finally made it to the border, one of the passport numbers on the reciprocity fees (a visa of sorts) we prepaid for pre-trip was incorrect and we needed to pay an additional $160 for a new one to enter the country. Then, finally, after a long, expensive day of mishaps, we arrived at our campsite. Our extremely muddy, cold campsite. And it was still raining and the forecast didn't show a break in the weather for days.
It was a sleepless night filled with worry and what-ifs. What if the tents leaked? They did. What if the kids were cold? They were. What if they got frostbite? They didn't. Where we were the most horrible parents ever for taking our kids camping in Patagonia in the rain? Probably. What the hell were we thinking? I have no idea. And how the hell were we going to break down camp in the rain, that had turned to sleet and then snow. I had no idea.
|Please note: Snow on the left, extra tent on the right and two gas cans.|
When morning came, we were in recovery mode. We'd driven for miles and now we were only a mere 45 minute drive from Glacier National Park in El Calafate. Except we couldn't get there. Because of the unseasonable snow we'd need snow chains for the rest of the drive, which we didn't have. And with no break in the weather forecasted and deadlines for camper rental return and airline tickets to contend with, there really wasn't much of a choice. So, we started the long drive back to Chile feeling defeated. Because, at this point, it all seemed like a long, expensive, whiny, cramped, cold, wet, junk food ridden, waste of precious vacation time.
Unless they were really valuable life lessons:
1. Do your research and plan, but not so much that you're inflexible.
2. Realize you can't do it all and you're going to screw some things up. So what?
3. Persevere when things get hard, but know when to change course.
4. Take stock of what you do have and salvage what you can.
5. Laugh. At the situation. And definitely, at yourself.
(Which is sometimes easier after a full out ugly cry, depending on the severity of the situation.)
And above all, respect Patagonia*.
*Patagonias may vary depending on particular life circumstances