Today was a navel gazing day at Refugio Tricahue . Not suprisingly we both slept very well after yesterday’s trek, and twenty minutes of pilates on the bedroom floor (after checking for spiders) sorted out the leg cramps. What’s becoming clearer by the day is that simple living with lots of time spent outside, surrounded by creatures and like minded people, brings out the best in both of us. I find it hard to deal with office and family politics at the best of times, and it’s blissful being away from all that. Here I have time to stop and smell the roses, or rather I’m making the time. I have a lot to be grateful for – a wonderful husband (I’m not just saying that because he reads this. He’s really very special. He has every reason to complain and feel sorry for himself but never does); health which is good enough to do the things I love, most of the time; a roof over my head; people who love me; and a stubborn streak which means I rarely give up. Work shit aside (I’m currently unemployed, but open to opportunities!) I know I’m more fortunate than many, and the refuge cat seems to love me job or no job. He’s a big fat ginger tom and when he’s not trying to get into our room he’s mewing outside our door until I come out and play. I love pooty cats, and consequently their ‘sucker radar’ is on high alert whenever I’m in the vicinity, and they know full well that they’ll get fed and cuddled.

We have the refuge to ourselves as the other residents have gone food shopping or on a guided tour with Dimitri. By 11.30am his dogs are already seeking shade around the decking area and drinking from the pool, and don’t bat an eyelid when two policemen turn up. Three Chilean walkers went up the mountain a few days ago and haven’t returned, and it seems that Dimitri is the local mountain rescue! Not only has he built this oasis but he gives a lot back to the local community too, and yet has this rare unassuming air about him, and a quiet unimposing manner. He’s yet another example of how huge an impact an individual can have by being mindful.

Mid afternoon we decide that we’re having exercise withdrawal symptoms and that as this is our last day in the Maule region of Chile, deemed by many to be Chile’s heart, that we should go wild swimming in one of the natural pools in the nearby Melado River (there’s a book waiting to be written – ‘Wild Swimming in South America’. Please contact me if you would like to help fund the research!) We’d intended traveling further along the river but it’s closed for hydro-engineering work, and instead find a perfect basking spot near the bridge. Whilst the water isn’t quite deep enough for a proper swim we float and sit whilst appreciating the gentle breeze.

I impress myself by driving back to the refuge across the scary bridge without needing to stop and compose myself, and when we get back Rich attempts to light the barbecue. Big fat cat returns, waiting patiently in the wings for an opportunity to run off with our dinner, but even he soon gets bored with waiting as the charcoal is damp and poor Rich almost hyperventilates trying to get some heat out of it. Alas we can only par-cook the pork, and as the gas has just run out and Dimitri has gone to the pub we have to decide either to eat it or go hungry. We decide to eat it regardless, and use the occasion as an opportunity to remind ourselves that we rely heavily on such luxuries as fossil fuels to eat. The cat turns its nose up at the undercooked pork but tries to get to Rich’s beer. He’s having none of it and shoos kitty away. Never try and come between a man and his well earned brew.