Sunday, 13 March 2011
Wild and Not so Empty Campings.
‘it’s safe out here in the campo’ roadside camps aren’t a felony, it’s quite acceptable, even normal.
Towards the beginning of the trip, we might have considered a pack-up and move on, to find a new, secretive site. Not now: our streetwise senses have for some considerable time been saying
’s rolling stock. A level of screech, that in the industrial work place would arouse the interests of the safety officer, and require the mandatory use of ear defenders. They could out perform, out compete any Argentine camp ground a 3am on a Sunday morning, however unlike their electro-amped competitors they come with an ‘off button’. They can all stop instantaneously, for no apparent or obvious reason, stop in perfect unison, an achievement that any choral master would be proud off. Our cola lorry site had it’s excavated drains, but what I hadn’t noticed on my initial inspection tour was the muddy puddles that had formed out of the last downpour, a short walk along the road. Now muddy puddles in the desert have the attractive ability of an electro-magnet in an iron fillings factory. In Australia, to encourage patrons to put the lights out in the toilet they place a notice on the back of the door: ’s pure coincidence, but our amorous amphibians have acquired an amped sound system that any stadium rock concert venue would dream about. A man-high corrugated pipe, two full carriageways wide. It's remarkable what a din a combo of five frogs can achieve, it’s got the insistence of car alarms, yet without the annoyance. They employ the speaking tube, the sounding horn to maximum efficiency, sending echoing calls, love songs far out into the bush, far into the night. In the morning I check out the muddy hole; it’s pock marked with flooded hoof prints, each off which are a bubbling agitation of mosquito larvae, the whole area a churned up soft red glutinous ooze, into which our frog chorus plop. They’re no bigger than a thumb nail. Only proving the adage: ’small bodies, big noise’.
Our supposed, quasi secretive sites have one character in common. They come with critter noise. Our gaucho spotted place has cicadas and grasshoppers who set up a cacophony of chirrups, that merge and amplify as the sun wanes, a collusion of noise that sounds like the un-lubricated wheel bearings of Scotrail
Lights attract moths,
Moths attract frogs,
Frog attract snakes.
Now put the lights out!
Our water hole attracted the bell clanking cattle and the frogs. It
’s all too easy to look at these ’big open spaces’ and to expect to encounter emptiness. The tracks disappearing off from the highway will lead, eventually to a habitation, the dried out dung will have come from a cow, goat or horse. It might look like a semi-arid desert, but as our last two desert campings prove, it’s not depopulated, it’s not deserted.
ItIt’ve established ourselves under a thorny acacia tree, reading books, writing blogs, studying maps. Sitting out the last of the day’s heat. It’s a perfect spot, it seems quiet, devoid of evidence that might suggest recent activity. No car tracks, no hoof prints, no river beds. We should be undisturbed. Which begs the question: where did the bell wearing cows clang in from? And, how did the Pepsi-Cola tooting lorry see us?.