The sun had set behind the mountains, and as the light faded, hordes of tourists started disappearing from the Torres lookout.
Our legs ached after a day-long hike on our first day in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. All the campsite we had spotted during the day were all already full. We kept on walking and eventually found ourselves in front of Torres peaks. With no place to sleep, we decided to spend the night there behind a giant boulder.
As the park rules don’t permit the use of stove outside designated campsites, we used lukewarm water from our thermoses to mix with mashed potatoes powder. After stuffing our stomach with thick and cold bland paste, we rolled out mattresses on the rocky ground and slipped into our sleeping bags.
The grand view of the towers and the surrounding peaks filled our eyes in the dim light. In still air, all we could hear was our breath. We kept staring at those towers till our eyes started to close.
“What if a puma attacks us? We don’t know what to do?” we wondered. I immediately opened up the offline Wikipedia app on my phone, and we keenly read about it. The article suggested to keep calm and stand tall, maintaining intense eye contact with the puma, and make loud but calm noise.
Before we went to sleep, each of us urinated in a different corner a few metres away from the camp to let pumas know it was our territory. “What if the puma sniffs our pee and considers it as a challenge and decides to reclaim its territory?” Fabio was not so sure despite having taken a pee.
At midnight, when I opened eyes, the sky was full of stars. The towers wore a black robe, but there was one dot of light on the Torre Central. A climber was on the move to the summit.
We woke up at 4:30 am and quickly packed our sleeping bags lest park rangers find us. When the first rays of sun hit the towers, the Torres towers bathed in golden light and their reflection on the turquoise Torres lake was a sight to behold.
Now over four years have passed, but I remember this place the most not for the starry night, or the golden sunrise, but for the urination we thought would keep us safe from pumas!