04.07.2008 -17 °C
I thought I'd take a little time to explain how life on Carmen works as we will be spending the next 13 days living off Carmen!
Carmen is a purpose built truck (she runs on Q plates). She has everything we need locked away in one of her many compartments. There are tents, cooking equipment, utensils, places for food (including a fridge), locker for our backpacks, water tank for drinking water etc. All this is accessed away from the sitting, travelling part of the truck.
There are several tasks distributed amongst the passangers to make sure Carmen stays functioning well (the drivers do the mechanics). Jobs consist of cleaning inside, cleaning windows, keeping bins tidy (we recycle cans and plastic bottles), keeping fridge tidy, putting bags on and off the truck (AKA back locker) etc.
On a morning that we are leaving a place we wll be given a leaving time and a back locker time. Our bags have to be at the back locker (where bags go) by the back locker time. 3 people who have been allocated the job of back locker, then load the bags on to the truck. Often back locker time is very early and it is still dark. Tomorrow it is 6.45am, but we are leaving from a hotel so it isn't too bad. The real killer is a camp day when you have to be up, tent down and had breakfast by 6.45, when it is dark and cold outside.
If we have long drive days we have lunch on the side of the road. We pull into a layby or park and cook group sets up lunch. Sandwiches, salad, scrambled eggs, for example.
If we are camping, we cook dinner at the campsite.
Cooking (breakfast, lunch, dinner) is done by cook groups. There are 4-5 people in a cook group and there are 4 cook groups. The drivers/crew work out a roster so we know when we are cooking. Cook groups are responsible for deciding what to cook, shopping and cooking. In Argentina, there is a per person budget (in US$) of 50 cents for breakfast, $2 for lunch and $2.50 for dinner. There are 20 people to cook for. It has been a great experience, working in a group of strangers (they split couples and friends up for cook groups), shopping for 20 people with a strict budget in a strange country and then cooking over a 4 ring gas stove in the desert, woods etc. So far there have been no disasters and everything has been edible.
Everyone is responsible for their own washing up, but the passangers all work together on this.
The tents on Carmen are simple 2 man dome tents. They are easy to put up and no frills. Chris and I have our Therm-a-rests, warm sleepng bags (Dad: Chris loves the bag he borrowed from you) and a fleece blanket we purchased in La Paz. Sleeping in thermals we haven't been cold yet.
If we are lucky we will camp at a proper camp site and it will have warm showers. But sometimes there are no campgrounds and we just make a clearing/beach/ side of the road -somewhere to call home for the night.
I love the camping and cook group part of the trip. It adds to the adventure and allows us to get to parts most tourists don't.