Several years ago we went to Chile to film some segments for an instructional flyfishing show. I don’t generally sleep very well on planes and so I watched movies, knocked down a global variety of cold ones, and made the flight attendants nervous on the long redeye to Santiago. We landed mid-morning, best as I can recall, and had another refreshment or two while we waited for the shuttle to take us to the fishing lodge. That evening, after settling in, we were treated to a magnificent multi-course meal and accompanying wine selection. Dinner takes about four hours in Chile, so there were a few empty bottles of red by the time we lurched off to bed to ready for the next morning’s shoot. The long, sleepless flight had thrown my sleep pattern out-of-whack and I awoke at about 2 am tossing and turning. I decided that the best thing to do was go for a jog so I put in my IPod and hit the road. There was only one main road in this rural part of Chile so I figured I couldn’t get lost, but just to be safe I left my t-shirt hanging next to the road at the turnoff to the lodge.
Running through the blackness of a mountainous jungle on the edge of a strange continent was a visceral experience and I fell into the rhythm of the run. I ran until the road turned to gravel and flipped a bitch just about the time that the diurnal critters were starting to stir. As dawn broke, I ditched the IPod and tuned in to the cacophony of birds, frogs, insects, and whatever else was out there. I saw the tail end of a pudu as it dashed across the road and a flock of extravagantly adorned parrots, numbering in the hundreds (Ma’ Nature wouldn’t have missed just one of those sacrificed to the vise?) I came to a bridge and surveyed the Rio’s waters, flowing mercury in the morning’s light. A vehicle pulled up and a local dude, dressed like he belonged on the cover of the Simms catalog, hopped out and waded into the river. I was impressed with this trout fisher’s ambition and watched him work for a minute or two, but I had to get back to the lodge for breakfast.
The road began to buzz with traffic as folks headed off to work and I kept my eyes peeled for my t-shirt marking the entrance to the lodge, which had to be close. I had left for this little jog with no food or water, so I fueled up on roadside blackberries, which were abundant, the sweet juice providing both sustenance and hydration, staining my torso, and attracting the attention of swarms of hungry flies.
To avoid traffic I ran in the roadside ditch, and promptly sprained my ankle, pretty badly. Carpooling seemed to be very popular in this region of Chile and pickups full of locals zoomed by and stared at the spectacle-apparently, the sight of a purple-mouthed hominid limping along this stretch of highway was a rare treat on the morning commute. I just had to laugh when one of these trucks drove by and I saw the little dude in the back, leering at me, wearing my t-shirt.
By the time the APB was sent out from the lodge and the shuttle bus tracked me down, it was nearly 10am and I was seriously late for the first morning’s shoot. The shuttle drivers smiled and laughed when they located me, and I returned to the lodge to find that they entire local staff had already dubbed me Forrest Gump.