A strange day. Our alarms broke our slumber at 5:15am, but still somewhere close to brain-dead, we were startled by what must have been monkeys cackling outside our tent. We still can't be sure exactly what it was. We sat and listened for five-ten minutes as it grew ever distant. We chalked it up to the Guanaco - crazy animal, but we still can't be sure of what it was we heard.
With our bellies full of cold oatmeal, we skimmed down the path from Guardas to Refugio Grey. I think I only stopped for this picture to prove that we were not solely focused on the path. But maybe we were. We could taste the return to Pehoe - which meant the catamaran to the buses - which mean the buses to Puerto Natales - which meant hot seasoned food prepared by someone in a kitchen..and beds.
We made a five hour hike into a three hour hike. We originally meant to catch the 12:30pm catamaran, we made the 9:30am. I revealed the last of my salami that I had been saving for this victory ride out of the park. Though I chewed with vigor and triumph and anticipation of the comfort soon to come - I simultaneously sensed myself longing for the primal playground receding from my sight.
Once to the buses, the driver told us we would, "stop at Administration before continuing on to Puerto Natales" - which seemed logical enough. We thought we'd pick-up and backpackers that had hiked out of the park to that point, turn around and make our way to town.
We were made to get off and told that he would be back at one o'clock. I was at first angry, but then remembered this tends to be the way of things down here. Giving up on anger, I started playing with everything that wasn't nailed down in the Ranger's Station. Thus...
The bus picked us up again at 1pm and hurdled through the park, around blind curves, to the stop where everyone was exiting the midday catamaran. I tried to stomach the futility of it all, the contempt, the lack of control. I was boiling again. Having been a commando with my own affinity for eight days.. I was once again at the mercy of the inefficiency and inconsideration of others. I was becoming civilized again.
And Kaitlin slept..
We made it back to Puerto Natales with time enough to shower and head out the door to La Mesita Grande (The Little Big Table) where we feasted on splendid pizza and beer. Then we went back to the hostel where a New Year's celebration was planned. We made salad and with a couple from Switzerland and the hostel staff (Omar, Mauricio, and Omar's girlfriend) we rang in the new year with mounds of asado, pasta salad, brownies, Austral beer, box wine, and champagne!
It was a feast, but I was still hungry! We filed outside and danced to our own countdown sponsored by Manu Chao. We ran out of numbers, the champagne flowed, and everyone got a strong hug and a kiss on the cheek..or some variation thereof. There were too many signs of affection to keep track of - everyone fumbled to show in their own way that they were happy.