Getting a little Chile
Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
11Trip End Ongoing
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It seems that large bodies of crystal clear water and snow-capped mountains are very conducive to blog writing. Our last entry was composed alongside a mountain river in patagonia and I am busy writing this one on the shore of a large mountain lake on the Chilean side of the Andes. The difference is that we have gained one freeranging companion - the ever-cheerful Chris and his handy Spanish dictionary. Now, to elaborate on why Chris has been so cheerful and why his little Spanish dictionary has been so handy I need to explain to you the core principles of traveling on a freerange budget. This is an extreme form of budget traveling that allows one to maximize minimal costs and minimize large expenses with the comfort of knowing that you are not spending that much money
Let us start with food - the stuff that tastes good and you eat and digest. On a freerange budget we have learnt to roam the countryside harvesting fruit from trees as much as possible. This technique has landed us cherries, blackberries, nectarines, apples and some other red-looking fruit we not too sure was actually fruit. During the few nights we have had to spend in a backpackers hostel or camp site we have discovered the joys of the 'communal shelf'. This is a shelf filled with food that travelers leave behind. From this we have gained a bounty of pastas, rice, soup packets, garlic and even an un-opened packet of cookies which has lasted us many a day of lonely hitch hiking. When we are forced to spend money on food, we employ a very strategic method where, like freerange chickens with our heads twisting and jerking we strut up and down the isles of a mini market scanning for low prices
A critical part of eating food on a freerange budget is preparing it whilst camping in the middle of nowhere. This requires fire, which, as Chris would say, is the very essence that ignites our souls. As we have moved across the Andes our sources of tinder and kindling have changed along with the climate which has been a lot wetter on the Chilean side. On rainy days we have learnt the multiple uses of a Spanish dictionary. We use the pages of Chris' handy dictionary as kindling to start our fires. In doing this we have sacrificed our ability to communicate in Spanish for fire and food, which, as you will find out shortly, has come back to haunt us at later stages in our journey. Anyway we use the pages of the dictionary to get a tiny flame which we gently nurse to life. We huddle around the miserable smoking flame, eyes bloodshot and watering, noses running as we take turns to blow the smoking flame until it finally takes. As Confucius say: wet wood burn bad - life lesson from Chris. We go to sleep each night smelling like smoke and singed hair but it is all worth it for the sake of fire and food.
The next important principle of traveling on a freerange budget is centered around shelter, which, as Luke would say, covers your emotions from the harsh weather of life
During our journey we have squatted in some strange places, including the slopes of a mountain covered in ancient volcanic ash, the no-mans land in between Argentina and Chile as well as in the middle of an on-ramp circle next to the highway. We are busy squatting at the moment alongside this lake although we are not too clear about whether we are allowed to be here. To get here we trekked, backpacks and all, down a freezing river in the rain. The only casualty we had was Luke's phone which fell in the water, but we quickly solved the problem by burying it in our stockpile of rice to dry out. We found a patch of flat ground sheltered by trees and settled in
The last two principles of a freerange budget are water and freerange friends. Water should be free, but here in Chile you have to pay for access to public toilets which is the only source of water we can get whilst hitching. So, instead, we go visit a shop and ask to use the toilet
Finally, what would a freerange budget be without freerange friends. Luckily for me (Zander) these come pretty cheap in the form of Chris and Luke haha ha. Freerange friends can be useful for many things like a shoulder to cry on when you can't get a lift or there is smoke in your eyes, as well as a source of warmth to get you through those chilly Chilean nights. This proved especially true during one recent hitching adventure where we experimented with trying to hitch hike through the night. Donned with two pairs of pants, all our jerseys, beanies, sarongs and even blankets we had taken from the airplane, we felt ready to face the cold of the night. We had even cooked some pasta and soup behind an abandoned police check point with a freerange fire from scraps of wood from the roadside to warm us up. But, standing on the side of the highway under a dim street light we must have looked like Spanish-eskimo-hobo-tram-vagabonds, because after 9 hours of hitching we had no ride. We had a little cry on each other's shoulders and decided to call it a day and pitch a tent in another on-ramp circle to sleep. We then maneuvered our frozen bodies to squeeze into Chris' 2-man tent and slept snugly like three freerange penguins sheltering from the cold. We went to bed laughing that night because of the absurdity of our situation. Sometimes there is little that is more important than to be able to make light of any situation and laugh about it. And I think we do that pretty well. Chris is ever-cheerful because we are all ever-cheerful.
Until next time........here is an educational song about hitch hiking!