• Anna Liszewska

Dust and tarantulas (GPT part 3)

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

After leaving the town of Coya, we walked the path that was leading us along the edge of the cliff, much lower we could see a river. In some places, the landslide completely took the trail, and we were forced to move just on the edge of the cliff. Terrified, I was pushing myself as close as possible to the crumbling rock wall. When the space opened, and I thought that finally I could relax, we found ourselves in front of a narrow but deep gorge. The only way to get to the other side was through the structure that served as the bridge. There were lots of holes, and on top of that, one side dropped and hung, connected only to the ingrown roots of the grass. I was wondering at what point it would fall. However, some boards looked as if they were relatively new additions, and the clearly visible trail suggested that the route was frequently used. As I passed, I tried not to look sideways and to be focused only on the next step.

It was a surprise when the path suddenly ended in front of a tall fence with a layer of barbed wire at the top. There was no way to jump over. We were walking along, looking for a passage. The fence was patched in many spots and looked as if it had survived a lot. All the holes were repaired so efficiently that it was impossible to squeeze through. Finally, in the corner, we found a one that was probably waiting for a proper fixing. It was covered with prickly branches. After removing them, we went into action. Crawling on the soft sand, I pressed myself into the ground, and Matúš was removing the wire that was constantly catching my clothes. Being on the other side, we covered it with found branches and moved on.

Landscape slowly began to change. It was still dry, hot, and sandy, but we were no longer in the desert without vegetation and signs of life. We were surrounded by numerous shrubs, and trees were no longer a rarity. At every move I had to be careful not to step on the lizard, and my thoughts were constantly distracted by the sounds of cicadas. In addition, beautiful parrots often flew over our heads. Suddenly, I jumped back, almost bumping into Matúš walking right behind me. There was a large hairy spider on our way. Raised in a combat position, directed towards us. A clear liquid was collecting on exposed fangs. Fortunately, Chilean Rose Tarantulas are not dangerous, and their venom is compared to one of the bees, but they can be up to 7 cm long (not including the legs). This particular one made quite an impression with his size, and we did not want to disturb him. Since then, we have met them quite often on our way. We started to hide our backpacks and boots in the tent at night. We didn't want to find such a surprise in the shoe, we put it on in the morning.

The path was covered with fine sand that rose into the air at the slightest movement. It looked as if we were followed by a cloud of smoke. Trails were branching and vanishing constantly. We were forced to check the GPS every second. However, a moment of distraction was enough, and it turned out that we were on a path that was 200 meters away from our trail. The bushes looked quite dense, and we decided to follow a dry stream. The stream was initially wide, and it was easy to navigate, but with each meter it got narrower and more overgrown. Eventually, panting heavily, we made our way through the last bushes and were back on the path. Sticking to the trail, we constantly complained on Arrieros. There were beers cans, and wine bottles everywhere. Looked as if they didn't really care about picking rubbish up after themselves.

When we were filtering the water, our Sawyer cracked. With a large amount of glue and tape, we managed to somehow restore it to functionality. The only problem was that filtering water after that was taking ages. We were also not sure how long we could count on it. A new one was needed. When we were visiting the town, it turned out that it was impossible to find a tourist filter in Chile, and chlorination is the only method of water treatment. It was good that at least we could find bleach in even the smallest shops.

Only a few routes on the GPT have been created with tourists in mind. Many of them are horse trails designed to herd animals to summer pastures. The horse trails are characterized by sharp, tiring ascents and descents. Therefore, going down into the next valley, we made a solid dose of ascents. The trail was partially overgrown, which made it even more difficult. At the point where we were to cross the river, we found a herd of goats, and sheep nibbling at patches of grass and single brushwood. Several mules stood tied to bushes. Crossing the river, we noticed a man who emerged from behind the rock and watched us for a moment. With a smile on his face, he started waving at us and calling us over. Four women and four men were sitting in the shade, sipping cola from cans, and a large piece of meat was roasting on the fire. We both got a big slice of delicious goat cheese. We tried to get through some conversation with the translator app, but it didn't really work out. Well... I guess everything is about practicing.

Day started nice and easy. It was a pleasure to walk through the cool forest on a well-cleared path. Of course, such a well-groomed route had to end in someone's backyard. Coming out from behind the trees, we saw a hut made of pieces of metal and boards. Chickens were running freely, and horses were grazing a short distance away. The dog that woke up from sleep began to bark loudly. At the same moment another jumped out of the hut without warning and was immediately aiming at my calves. I covered myself with hiking poles that he caught in his teeth. The dog noticed that his attack didn't really work out and jumped on Matúš, who moved quickly to the side, and the story ended only with a loud snap next to his thigh. Fortunately, the owner showed up at the door and yelled at the fierce defender. In the future, we decided to make ourselves known when approaching the buildings, surprise was not really an advantage.