Paine Grande is to camping what a discotheque is to a library: utter chaos.
Vacillating somewhere between horror and amusement, Graham and I approach the sea of tents with trepidation, not sure where, exactly, to claim our square of sleeping space, for make no mistake about it–this is most definitely not about being one with nature.
Lucky for us, it seems a pristine little parcel overlooking the lake harkens with the sound of angels, and rush to it we go, me silencing the pesky little devil pointing out details like, sewage lids and the fact that no one else claims this space as their own, preferring soaked grass to our sliver of heaven.
We’re just gonna go ahead and pretend that faint odor of shit isn’t what I think it is.
Camping here is most definitely not like camping in our neck of the woods, and I wonder what Chileans would think if we plop them in the middle of the Rawah Wilderness, toilet, running water and gas range nowhere to be found for days.
Personally, I prefer the primitive to the posh, for even with the luxuries of a refuge, I find it dirtier, grosser, and ickier, cooking cabana foggy with perspiration, evaporation, sublimation as all one hundred of us vie for a square of bench for our evening meal, rows of stove blasting Doite campware with the sound of jet fuel gas canisters, deviations of pasta, pasta, and more pasta on the menu tonight, a few campers bold enough to wear their sunglasses at night while they eye their prey and decide which lucky lady will benefit from their evening crow.
We, however, are part of the ranks trying to keep morale and spirits high, hungry and hoping for a little solace in this filled-to-the-brim festival of trekkers, certain that the sun must come out tomorrow, right?
Just as we doze to sleep, the pitter patter of rain turns up twenty notches. We ride a wave of optimism through our dreams, through the nighttime ritual of having to pee while camping, which, here, means accidentally putting socked feet in wet shoes and sloshing to the potty, and awaken, still certain that the sun might want to say hello, right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong we are, and our Erratic Rock guide’s prediction rings hollow in our ears, bluebird skies a sadistic thought now, especially sans rain pants.
Maybe, just maybe, if we smile hard enough, the sun will come out tomorrow.