We were on our connecting flight through Santiago, Chile when we flew over the Andes Mountains. The longest mountain range in the world and the setting for the movie Alive, the true story of a rugby team who crashed somewhere in the great expanse below us where the survivors ate their dead to stay alive. "I'd eat the forearm", Jade said. "The thighs would be more tender and substantive", I suggested. That was the precise moment I first considered that maybe we were dreadfully unprepared to camp our way through perilous Patagonia. And it wasn't the last.
After we landed in Puerto Arenas and had a lovely day trip via boat to see an island inhabited by penguins, it was time to pick up our camper. "Camper" being a relative term, as it was relatively sparse on actual equipment and space for the six people it claimed to accommodate on the internet listing. Perhaps they meant six Chilean people, who are notably smaller than Americans.
There was a road trip courtesy reminder posted inside.
This of course is impossible rule not to break.
Especially when all you're eating is junk food, because the camper had no refrigeration.
Which made food shopping to stock the camper at the local grocery store on Christmas Eve with everyone else in town while being forced to listen to Britney Spears singing Christmas songs on Unimart's piped in muzak even more fun. But not as fun as considering what we could make on a one burner propane stove cooking in the open trunk of a van. And doing this while dodging shopping carts, without knowing how to say "excuse me" in Spanish with an entourage of four kids who still fight about everything, including who gets to push the shopping cart. Suffice it to say, it was really, really stressful.
I was so busy, I didn't have time to investigate this mystery meat.
What the hell is it?
It looks like a cross between a baby llama and a deer.
Later, we'd see a resemblance to these guanaca.
That night we (and by "we" I mean my husband, Craig) drove through the wind of Patagonia which almost blew us into into coming traffic on the narrow, shoulderless two lane roads we travelled to rent our sleeping bags and an extra tent.
Demonstration of the force of the wind.
And the barren beauty of the land.
On Christmas eve we had an appetiser of peanuts and a gourmet Styrofoam ramen noodle cup. Which pairs excellent with a local Malbec by the way.
We set up camp at 10pm. Yes, this photo was taken at 10pm. It's summer here and the sun sets at 11pm. We hoped we'd wake up to a sunny, clear view of Cerro Paine Grande, the mountain in front of our camp site.
Of course, that's not what happened...