We get up and the sunrise is amazing, the sky is on fire and the ice palace is in full view and there is no wind and finally its warm again. We get breakfast started up and cook up yet more sausage and eggs, everything is efficient now and done in such a timely way and group effort that we are ready to go and get on the road in good time. Its then a long trek through basically desert to get to the Argentina border, and this takes no time at all to cross out of Chile and into Argentina but there is a huge area of no mans land in between before we finally make it. At the Argentina border there is no fuss, no searching not even a question about the truck or food, just stamping the passports and letting is get on our way which is great.
Next stop is the Cave of Hands, (Cuevo de los manos) which is exactly what it says and on a scorching day the sun is beating on us, everyone has been baking on the truck for hours driving to get here and nice to get out but we all coat ourselves in sunscreen. The guide takes us through the information on the valley, the find of the hand prints and the drawings and what they mean. Its fairly typical, and pretty much similar to a lot of what I have seen before in Australia and other countries with tribal history.
Next stop is camp, bush camp!! what this means exactly is that we have no showers or toilets, but otherwise everything else is on the truck. The next group gets set to make their meal for the evening with stuff competition in what has been provided before, lets see what we get. Theirs was more of a challenge as their was literally not much in the super market in the town we stopped at en route to the cave.
Bush camp is not far from the cave of hands, in an open valley with a salt flat area where obviously there was water previously but not for a while. The first thing we spot is all the carcasses from the Guacamo, one had obviously been running, jumped the fence and fallen and is now just bones hanging off the fence!! that’s where we are stopping… lets hope it wasn’t running from anything predatory.
The camp site is pretty exposed and we go get the tents, my tent buddy is on cooking duty so I am on my own trying to a) find a good spot in the desert that will hold the tent, b) keeping away from the bones, and off the rocks, and c) out of the wind…. hmmmm, not much chance of any of those. I start making my way and well lets just say after 3 attempts resulting in the tent blowing away into the fence, blowing over and away and just falling apart under the wind I realise that this is only going to go better if I get a wine!
Thankfully Garry spots my frustration and we help each other out getting the tents grounded, which still takes time and I am not overly confident they will hold the night in the windy valley but I am sure that if I keep drinking the wine I won’t notice, or care!.. Bush camp is actually pretty good, with no where to go and no other distractions (like plug sockets, wifi and other such modern facilities everyone seems to be spending a bit more time together. We play games of boules out of the rocks on the ground, and generally chat and I think its a great bonding experience for the group (although I don’t want to do this all the time!!).
The night ends well, I am spotting a pattern that at the end of each night myself, Mark and Chris are the ones up putting the world to rights and chatting away not noticing the time. But the night comes to an end so its off to my tent!! All together an unexpectedly fun night.