We landed in the National Park of Cucao, and were treated to a camping site with flush toilets, paved paths, and a cafe with wifi. It was an absurd feeling to be tucked into nature with so much access to the front country. I had no complaints, however, and even treated myself to an empanada sold by one of 3 portly Chilean woman who were blasting music throughout the camp.
It was a challenge to hear the birds, but we had class anyway and wandered through this camp, stopping at the visitors center to learn about the history. Sunshine slowly stretched her limbs and shyly came into view, filling up the sky with a blue so bright I could barely believe it! The elation that comes from sun after days of a storm is unprecedented and wonderfully exciting. I felt ready for our final hike.
That was topped with the excitement I had for getting into field quarter, which I discovered, via e-mail.
Morning rattled life back into our bones, and we packed up hurriedly, then threw our too heavy packs on our bodies and got to moving. My legs questioned my intention as I pushed them down a rocky road where cars drove past us, and then they accepted my movement, and fell into a rhythm. We walked down onto the beach where you can see for miles, and set ourselves north for a 25 km. hike. The sand is hard packed, the land is flat, and the walk was incredible. My eyes filled with tears at the sight of the Pacific Ocean. One month is the longest I have gone in my life without seeing the ocean!
After our lunch break, we reluctantly beganto walk again. Our stomachs complained, but not for long. Perri exclaimed "look!" and the entire group fell silent and hurried up to the edge. To our complete disbelief, a Pudu Puda, Chiles tiny deer, was swimming towards us. People come from around the world to see this animal, and here we were with a full view. I felt honored to be blessed with the sight of this animal and amazed at the power it held over our group. We have never been that quiet.
We ended up in a local persons front yard, where they essentially rent out their lawn to campers, and offer a toilet. It was a bizarre setting, and I felt like an intruder. It was a way for the rural people to make profits, yet I have a feeling that it isn´t their primary choice. Luckily, the next day we jumped up and over a hill to drop down into the Cole Cole National park. Blue skies, green trees, warm wind, pacific ocean; I had reached paradise!
Tents were assembled, and I swiftly stripped down to my bathing suit and ran to the water. OCEAN! EL MAR! OLAS! Ahhh salty water is one of the most essential things in life for me. I imagined my ripples riding the Humboldt Current all the way up to my friends and family who get to see this beautiful body of water every day. Staying here for a week recharged my batteries and got me ready for the final week of the program. I felt enthusiastic to be learning the secrets of this place. Chile is a puzzle, slowly revealing his mysteries to me.