Kilometres walked: 16km / Total distance: 141km / Elevation gain: 326m / Elevation loss: 941m / Time walked: 4h7min.
The campsite up the ridge from yesterday is beautiful but I sleep poorly. First, there are lots of cows and horses around and although the sound of their bells is kind of soothing, I keep listening intently to check if they’re coming closer, too close. Irrational fears of a stampede trampling my tent with me inside keep me awake and it takes a while to convince my brain that it’s being silly.
Second, the wind flaps the fabric of my tent. I have an uneven pitch on uneven ground and while I’m sure the tent will hold, the sound for sure is annoying. This is easily fixed with earplugs.
Then, when I finally drift asleep around midnight I notice that the ground is suddenly very hard. Huh? My sleeping mat is empty. I reinflate and immediately hear the faintest hissing sound. Luckily the hole is quite big so I find and patch it easily.
With my brain, earplugs and sleeping mat sorted I finally doze off until I wake up to pee in the middle of the night. I step outside the tent and am blown away by the night sky. There is not a single cloud, the moon is not up yet, and the milky way is illuminated clearly. For the first time this trip I connect to a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time: awe. I feel small and vulnerable in the best way possible. I’m here, up this random ridge, under this vast sky, all by myself. I’m doing this. Finally, the feeling that I have been expecting since day one hits me and I fall asleep again, smiling.
The next day is easy. I wake up around 07:00 without alarm and just as I’m packing up my tent the British couple from yesterday walks by and I join them. A few kilometres later we catch up with three Dutch girls and together we form a little merry band of hikers, each walking our own pace but meeting up during breaks and finally, on the campsite in Ochagavía/Otsagabia. We claim a corner of the camping and it’s like a little festival with all our little tents, except that everyone is asleep by 22:00h.
It’s nice to talk to people! The last few day’s I’ve only exchanged short pleasantries with people in bars and a few other hikers going the other way, and saying hello to a lot of cows and horses. Unfortunately they all keep going tomorrow, while I promised myself to have a rest day. My body hurts – nothing serious, but it does need some time to process what is happening. And I need to get my appetite back and maybe rest helps with that?
And perhaps most importantly; I’m on a mission to find new batteries for my UV water filter that died yesterday…they’re odd batteries and the supermarket in town doesn’t stock them, and I stupidly didn’t bring a spare pair. I enlist the help of Antonio who makes a call and gets the tip that maybe the electronics store next town over sells them. I walk there in the evening -15 minutes along the main road, and it feels amazing to walk without a pack. And they do have the batteries! I’m so, so relieved because I’ve been stressing about this more than I’d like to admit.
The next morning I wake up around 06:00 to the sound of people packing up next to me. I put my earplugs back in and next thing I know it’s 08:30 and the sun is hitting my tent. Apparently I needed the sleep!
Today’s mission is catching up on blogs (if you’re reading this, mission accomplished!), laundry, naps, reading about the next section and groceries. Easy peasy. Tomorrow, onwards to Zuriza!