{16.11.14} Moonlit mountain drumming

~ ~ ~ brief musical preamble ~ ~ ~

Vuelvo a casa, vuelvo compañera

Vuelvo mar, montaña, vuelvo puerto
Vuelvo sur, saludo mi desierto
Vuelvo a renacer amado pueblo
Vuelvo, amor vuelvo
A saciar mi sed de ti
Vuelvo, vida vuelvo
A vivir en ti país

Here’s a loose translation: 
I come back to my home and friends
Coming back to sea and mountains, I come back to Valparaíso
I go south, hail my desert
I come back to birth anew my beloved people
I come back, my love, I come back
To quench my thirst in you
I come back, life, I come back 
To live in your country

What’s beautiful about these lyrics is that “volver” (vuelvo, etc.) can mean to come back, but also to return to being. So not only does returning to a home ground mean physically moving yourself back to the territory, but it means rebirthing your soul back to its original state of being. Gah. I love this country. 

~ ~ ~ end of brief musical preamble ~ ~ ~
Last weekend I went to La Campana national park with the Afro drumming group that I’ve gotten to attach myself to recently. In typical Chile style, we got there a good 3 hours after the planned arrival time, heading off without a very good sense of how we’d get there, but a lot of faith and good cheer. It ended up including a train and a bus and then a rather arduous late-night trek up a gravel road when we hadn’t a very good idea of how, exactly, we were going to get to the camping grounds. Of course, it didn’t help that we were hungry and, between the 5 of us, carrying 4 large djembe drums along with 2 tents, sleeping bags for everyone, a blow up mattress and a bicycle pump to fill it with, food for 3 days and clothes. Ooof. 
Setting up camp went pretty smoothly, if you don’t count the moment when those pumping up the air mattress with the little hole realized that the big hole for pumping up was utterly unstoppered, which was contributing to the complete lack of success on the air filling front. Oh well, nothing a melted wad of shopping bag plastic can’t do for you. Also saw the first of many tarantula-esque spiders making its way across the road to the light of a full moon. 
We’d agreed on an early wake up the next morning so we could climb to the peak of the mountain before the heat became unbearable. No one was too extremely serious about the wakeup call, except this one guy, who used his sonorous nose blowing capacity to rouse the drum teacher and his partner from their peaceful morning repose on a now-flat air mattress. So the day started off well, and we ended up leaving without them, anyways, because the sun was rising. 
It was a 7 kilometer climb in total, 4 to reach Las Minas up to which non-hardcore people drive in a car and picnic, also the only place where you can refill water. Two hours in and with 3 kilometers left, we were feeling pretty good. The three of us, two other US girls from the drum class, reapplied sunscreen, hydrated, and decided to climb all the way up. After all, you could see the peak from where we were. What started off as a pleasant climb through the woods quickly gave way to at least an hour and a half scramble up rocky and gravelly terrain, at times sparsely populated with the Red Arrows of Salvation that kept us on the path. They actually don’t allow people to make the climb alone on days with few other hikers because it’s so common to get lost. The next day we saw a group of firefighters and park rangers heading up to find a group of lost souls. Some poor girl hiking alone had followed a group of guys not paying that much attention, and they were all in a bind. 

4 kilometers and 2 hours done, 3 kilometers and 3 hours to go
On the way up we met a guy hiking alone, only his iPhone’s pop music playlist to keep him company. After doing that frog-hopping thing where you repeatedly pass each other, we decided to ascend together. Many a plaintive “how much longer?” asked of the folks already descending later, we finally reached the peak. We ate food, derided the tasteless graffiti, oohed and aahed at the view and chatted with the growing group of people gathering at the top obsessively taking selfies and trying not to think too much about the impending descent. 
mar + montañas
I ended up making my way down the mountain with a group of guys who’d collected each other throughout the day. There was this surfer dude California business major in Vans (flimsy canvass sneakers, for the non-skaters among you), two really sweet guys studying ecotourism and the guy from before that owns a successful GPS tracking business for delivery companies. It was a motley crew, what can I say. Our strategy was to pretty much go down as fast as we could. My strategy was to carry on a conversation for the 3 arduous hours it took us to get down to base camp because by that point everything hurt and it was a good distraction. I now know rather a lot about 4 rando guys I’ll probably never see again in my life. As a result, I saw very little wildlife, but the next time I go I’ll be in a better position to enjoy it, now that the desire to make it to the peak won’t be eating at me.

 ~ ~ ~ musical interlude ~ ~ ~
Traigo en mi equipaje del destierro
Amistad fraterna de otros suelos
Atrás dejo penas y desvelos
Vuelvo por vivir de nuevo entero
Vuelvo, amor vuelvo…
I bring back with me in my baggage of exile
Brotherly friendships from other lands
Behind I leave trouble and sorrow
I return to live completely anew
I come back, my love, I come back…

 ~ ~ ~ end of musical interlude ~ ~ ~


The evening started with everyone talking around the picnic table, progressing to a fire for grilling zucchini and drumming under the full moon until 2 in the morning. Unfortunately, I missed most of the magical mystical feminist drumming because I decided to lie down during the moon-viewing session and no one thought to wake me up. Oh well. We spent a good portion of the next day playing together in between groaning a bit about the state of various body parts involved in climbing mountains and eating very random leftover food, waiting for the girls from the group who had joined us the night before to make it down from the mountain. 


that point in the afternoon when
playing sitting up got to be too much
Compared to the arrival, the departure was a breeze. The air mattress was already deflated and ready to be packed up. We were walking down, not up. There was no food or wine left to lug around.  A bus that had just dropped off a huge group of tourists with all their gear agreed to take us down to the actual bus station, where the bus came right away and spat us out at the train station 2 minutes before the next train. And then we were there in the last car, completely taking over the end of it with all our drums and bags, sitting cross-legged playing Spoons. And then people got off one-by-one with warm hugs and a question in their eyes about when we’d see each other again. And it was over, my only souvenirs a rather puffy knee, some really gross clothing, dusty hiking boots, a panorama picture that melding ocean and Andes, a smile on my face, and supreme gratitude to the universe that I could sleep in indefinitely on Monday morning.
prolly should have payed for the 3 seats we took up
with bags and drums on the ride back
(on the left is Eric, the drum teacher)
 ~ ~ ~ musical postscript ~ ~ ~
Traigo en mi equipaje del destierro
Amistad fraterna de otros suelos
Atrás dejo penas y desvelos
Vuelvo por vivir de nuevo entero
Vuelvo, amor vuelvo…
I bring back with me in my baggage of exile
Brotherly friendships from other lands
Behind I leave trouble and sorrow
I return to live completely anew
I come back, my love, I come back…

On second thought, maybe I should have saved this song for when I go back to the US. But really, I couldn’t resist.
Happy trails! 
 ~ ~ ~ end of musical postscript ~ ~ ~
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Unfortunately, I slept too well (complete exhaustion… after all, I had just hiked up and down a mountain that day), so I missed the most magical of the moonlight drumming. Actually, the drumming and the dreams kind of melded and twisted together, which was kind of cool. Like altered reality. But I only woke up when it stopped and other people came into the tent.

    Like

  2. Soren Hauge says:

    That's okay. The song is a nice change of pace from Bjorn's repeated playing of “Babe, I'm gonna leave you,” which he's been figuring out the guitar part to. How'd you sleep through people drumming nearby?

    Like

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