I have been here in Chile for near nine months now, and aside from one short morning trip to the snowy mountainside of Valle Nevado and another day-trip to the Francoise Lurton vineyard just outside of Santiago, I have yet to truly leave the city for any notable length of time.
It was with this thought in mind that I leapt at the impromptu suggestion of going camping in the valleys of Cajon Del Maipo.
Cajon Del Maipo isn’t very far from the borders of Santiago, but it is well into the mountains. After a quick and panicked bout of packing (probably too much, in all honestly, but we live and learn) we caught a lift out to the meeting point at the foot of the mountains, where a few groups would meet and make the trek together.
The trek was relatively simple, made difficult only for the backpacks and water we carried, though it did take perhaps an hour or two to finally reach our destination. When we walked into the mountaintop clearing, we could see the glow of various campfires scattered about, with the sound of the nearby river punctuated by excited conversations.
The next two nights were spent reclining around warm fires, drinking delicious barbequed foods and sharing wines and beers. There is something about meat roasted over a fire that makes my mouth water at just the thought. It wasn’t all meats though, coffee roasted over a fire has a delicious smoky taste, and mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese were a particular delight.
A nearby waterfall was found, which promptly led to stripped shirts and a swim in cold waters that snatched the breath from your chest, a fantastic relief from the burning sun.
The days we spent swimming in the river, exploring the nearby landscape, and simply enjoying being alive.
Cajon Del Maipo is a tranquil place, the sound of a gently flowing river and the crackle of a fire is the best sleep aid you could ever hope for, and it provided a much needed break from the confines of the city.
I sorely miss the countryside of Ireland, the crisp air and the lush greenery and the ever-abundant forests. Here in the city I sometimes feel detached, with only the sights, sounds, and smells of human progress keeping me company.
To do nothing in a city seems a waste, it seems an aberration of it’s specific purpose; being part of a meta-tribe, hunting and gathering these modern commodities that we hold dear and need to survive and live comfortably, each working life being a microcosm of the whole.
Getting away, gettting out of the city and far from the noise, is something that lets the mind relax. You can sit by a river or a stream and spend hours in complete contentment simply watching how the water breaks and reforms in tiny rifts and eddy, savoring the smell of clean and crisp air, or listening the sound of dry grass crunching softly under bare feet.
We are Homo Sapien Sapiens, and we spent our collective childhood some forty thousand years ago on the plains of Africa, in settings not far removed from these. For me, it is important to remind yourself of what you are, and be proud of your lineage and evolution.
Cajon del Maipu is a place where I felt I could truly relax and not spare a single thought to the modern movings of today’s modern life.
It is a place I intend to visit again, and soon.
-The Wandering Irishman