A love hate hate relationship – T and camping

Gemma – ‘You’re taking imodiums like it’s the contraceptive pill!’

I laughed at Gemma, because it was true – 8 hour bus journeys with a potential dodgy stomach without immediate access to a bathroom had taken its tole on me and I dealt with this the best I could by making the imodium tablets my life jacket, the security that I wouldn’t need to ‘give birth’ at an inconvenient time.

It didn’t help that we were starting to camp more and more, at locations where the toilet facilities scared my bowels shitless.

Camping and I had an arrangement – As long as I was blind drunk, or had taken a sleeping pill, I was allowed some sleep.

At the Salta rafting campsite early one rainy morning. I had taken a great Peruvian sleeping relaxant the night before.

Gemma, slightly panicked as the wind bellowed loudly against the tents walls and as the rain hammered down, sounding like we were in the middle of a cyclone, – ‘T! Our tents going to come down, what should we do?!’

T, cocooned in sleeping bag and half asleep, vaguely aware of water being sprayed on face from leak in tent – ‘Just close your eyes and pretend everything’s ok..’ pulls sleeping bag over wet head and dozes off while water starts rising in tent.

A while later that same morning, I hear voices outside the tent talking about ‘a tent in the middle of a lake’.

Gemma to T, laughing – ‘ I hope they’re not talking about our tent!’

T, not yet ready to deal with reality‘I’m scared if I look outside I’ll find that everyone else has taken down their tents, except us. And we’re alone in the middle of this giant puddle. Best not to look until we’re prepared to do something about it..’

There were other memorable camping moments, like the time I found myself squatting with a large rock lifted between both hands above my head, ready to strike down on a tent-peg. I’d given up on the hammer like tool I’d used at the start of my camping adventure, and had progressed to the more primitive caveman-like techniques. Gone were the days of sweeping the tent, we just put our sleeping bags over the dirt. Showering had also become a rare event.

I found myself sleeping in an ‘S’ shape most nights, curling unnaturally around the hard rocks in the earth where we had expertly pitched the tent.

T, grumpy – ‘I need a giant file’

Gemma – ‘Why?’

T – ‘So I can file down these jagged rocks in my back.’

Call me hardcore, or just plain inexperienced, but I didn’t think to bring a sleeping mat.

The moment of ultimate laziness – When Gemma and I started using the mens toilets at one campsite because it was right near our tent. Facilities were a row of three basins only, in the dark (no light), but with an automatic water cleaner in each basin.

Thinking back to how ridiculous we looked and felt, sitting with our bums in the mens basin, in the dark with our pants around our knees, terrified that some guy was going to walk in and see us.. still makes me laugh out loud. That we had prefered this discomfort and potential humiliation over walking a few minutes to the ladies bathroom!

Question – Has camping made me a better person in any way?


Salta rafting – Accidents, injuries, dogs.. fun!

A two hour drive from Salta city is Juramento River’s gorge, located at kilometre 34, where we excitedly set up camp and got ready for our rafting adventure.

There were 8 people in my raft, 6 women, 2 men, and our guide Frank, a cheeky and entertaining German man who has lived in Argentina for past four years.

Frank – ‘Today, is almost perfect. I only have two problems today… and they’re sitting in the back.’ referring to the men in the raft.

The river was beautiful, bordered with multi-coloured dirt mountains the shades of sapphire and emerald unpolished gems. It was a sunny gorgeous day for what was my most enjoyable excursion in South America (The Inca trail wins the most memorable and amazing award) . Sun, scenery, water, good company.. the only thing missing down these 15 rapids was the wine!

A very unique feature of Salta rafting – The labrador dogs have been ingeniously trained to work as life guards, complete with life jackets, and will jump into the river to swim a safety rope to whoever goes over-board. Incredible!

Accidents and injuries.
After a particularly violent bump against the rapid, both Amy and Caitlin bounced out of the raft. Frank quickly hauled Caitlin back into safety however Amy wasn’t as lucky and was swiftly swept away.

Amy – ‘I just told myself not to panic and put my feet forward like we’d been told, but the rocks were hitting my arse and I kept swallowing water, I was freaking out but all I could do was smile’ And smile she did! A frozen open-mouthed smile of bewilderment that got tinier and tinier. And tinier.

V lost a tooth when a paddle hit her in the face while trying to perform ‘rock and roll’ (when everyone has to go from sitting on the edge of the raft, into the body of the raft.)

T, looking at V with blood running down the side of her mouth – ‘Poor girl, you’d be FURIOUS at whose ever paddle it was.’

Girls in the raft – ‘It was her own!’

T – ‘Oh… well, when you have only yourself to blame, it doesn’t seem so bad.’