Monday, January 8, 2001

Puerto Williams, Chile

I wake in another world, a more perfectly rendered version the old one.

Walked to town in the warm sun. One last phone call home; Jodi’s voice swimming through 10,000 miles of static and satellite delay. She was warm and snug, just waking in my bed. In another world.

Do some last minute shopping, parting with my last $20 bill for batteries and some paper towels. A group sets off in the afternoon to hike oiut to some ponds created by the beaver introduced half a century ago. An alien species, they’re wreaking havoc, drowning countless acres of forest.

The wilderness trail has been replaced by a gravel road, bisecting the biggest of the beaver ponds along the way to a military base. At a stream, we balance over precarious log crossings. I cross back and forth until obliging everyone by stepping onto a shifting log and soaking one leg.

Willamyn entices four of us on an off-trail march through the thicket. We’re quickly and thoroughly lost, reduced to following the winding stream downriver, hoping that it will eventually led us back to the sea. We’re without compass, water, food or clothes beyond t-shirts and jeans, as storms clouds build over the surrounding hills. We cross and re-cross streams. Pieter slips and falls in, Annie wishes she’d been smart enough to take the road back. I’m furious at how recklessly we’ve wandered off, on Willamyn’s blithe assurances. I find a marsh of dead beech trees; a breached beaver pond, calmber up a hill and finally stumable across a road. Willamyn says it’s a fine adventure, but I counter that it’s more like Scott’s heroics. Go off half-assed into the wilderness without a map or food or warm clothes and you’re goinng to have all manner of adventure. It’s just stupid is all.

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