A handful of notes to bring us up to speed (now I have wifi)
The sign, after careful translation read:
In the event of seeing a puma:
- Gather your children together
- Shout and wave your arms
- Do not run
- Tell a ranger as soon as possible
It is with these wise words forefront of mind that I set off for a run to the observatory and back, at dusk. I have never enjoyed environments where I am not apex species, bears, sharks etc all slightly unnerve me, especially when on my own. I feel kinda of puncturable.
The only sound is the regular crunch of gravel as I slowly climb to 2300m on the track surrounded by low scrubland mesa, folded into the badland shapes typical of high desert plains.
My mind wanders, I pick out the first stars, possibly a planet. Check heart rate, a steady 170’s, good.
The sudden scrabbling and crashing from the roadside as something large comes out of the bushes doesn’t just scare me. I know. I have the evidence. BPM leaps to 185. A puma, obviously, the fight or flight response engaged I whirl around, hands waving, whilst wondering in the back of my mind if there are any stray children I could throw to it.
Of course, wasn’t a puma, it was a silver desert fox, disturbed by some loafing human probably as startled by me as I was by it.
Being up at this height gives spectacular view of the night sky. But we are also approaching full moon. As my sister is well aware I enjoy night sky image making and find Daphne remarkably keen to set alarms for 4a.m. to catch the hours between moon-set and sun-rise. My excitement means I’m actually awake before the alarm. Like I say I enjoy making these kind of shots. We hike for 20 minutes to find the skylighting angle we’d scoped out earlier that evening. And then commence to play for an hour. Got this:
Which I rather like.
The following day, a little tired for some reason, we are also about out of food. I have wanted to make a genuine asado since recognising the authenticity of doing so whilst in Argentina. So we roll 30km to the nearest village, wait two hours for shops to re-open after siesta (7pm) and pick up wood and beef. And an axe. Happy. That night asado gods are smiling and after a couple of hours prep and cooking nail possibly the best steak I’ve had.
A car pulls up and this guys comes barreling up to us, says his name is Francisco. We invite him for a glass of wine and he ‘treats’ us to a review of his holidays selfies. A stream of phone images of his own face with a blurred background. Something profoundly odd about the selfie obsession.
On the way back to Mendoza, we pass the dry lakes and stop to watch landyachts. Happily I had lost track of the day and we’d set off back a day early. But that meant we had time for a spontaneous meal at a vineyard…