Life at Basecamp
Text and Photos by Annie Johnson, College of Saint Benedict
We’ve made it! Although we haven’t been in Chile for very long yet, the anticipated basecamp/home of Cochrane has been on our minds since we first found out we were apart of the Round River Conservation Studies program. We left Cerro Castillo on January 18th and made the beautiful drive down to Cochrane. Along the way, we stopped at a historical Chilean school and the confluence of the Baker River and Neff River. At the school, we were able to practice our Spanish as we walked through the school exhibits, learning all about Southern Chile’s history and culture. It just so happened that right down the road from the school was a very historical site where handprints from an indigenous community can be seen on the rock faces. We were all in awe as we looked up at the various sized and colored handprints, thinking of a people long gone whose memories have lived on.
Another stop we made was at the confluence of the Baker River and Neff River. To say the least, this was spectacular. These two huge bodies of water rushed together, mixing their different shades of blue, to form one winding river. We stayed and watched for a while, mesmerized by the power and force of the water.
After these wondrous stops, we arrived in Cochrane and drove our way to basecamp, just a little ways outside of town. The moment we walked into our quincho, we felt at home. And home it has been! Team Aguila jumped into action with cooking, swimming, learning, reading, sleeping and much more. We cruised the town to do a little grocery shopping, connect to the internet and talk to those back home, and hang out with the local puppies.
Our time at basecamp has allowed us to have more classes and really learn about the different places where we will be doing conservation work. One of the most influential classes we had was when we talked about conservation on a very personal level. In our environmental narratives class, we discussed a powerful quotation from Plenty Coups, a Crow Indian chief: “When the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened.” Our instructors asked us to think about our own “buffalos.” What would break our hearts if we lost it? The work we are doing down here needs to be personal and real if we intend to make a positive impact on the conservation of Patagonia.
After several days to settle into life at basecamp, we doubled in our ranks as Team Condor joined us for the second half of our stay here. Double the people and double the fun!!
Basecamp has been filled with much laughter and shenanigans, especially since it was Fernando’s birthday on Tuesday. For his birthday, we made oven-roasted homemade pizza, some savory sautéed vegetables, dangerously divine deviled eggs, carrot cake and brigadero (a Brazilian chocolate dish made by Samara). It was a joyous night of good company, conversation, dancing, and a rainbow to top it off.
RRCS Instructors and Fernando celebrate his birthday rainbow!
We continued to explore the town of Cochrane, take classes, and eat delicious food. We even went kayaking on the Cochrane River! It is safe to say that all of us thoroughly enjoyed this micro-adventure and were in complete awe of the beauty that surrounded us. We stopped for lunch and hiked past some waterfalls to a pinch in the Cochrane River where we basked in the sun and did a little swimming.
Our time at basecamp has been wonderful. We are all excited to start our next adventure to San Lorenzo, an area that may provide a Glacier Calluqueo sighting. Goodbye for now!