FROM HEAVEN TO HELL AT DUSK !!
I knew the dreamy bubble would burst at some point, but it could not have happened at a worse time for me, as I stood on top of a rocky outcrop on the Goic ranch, that borders Torres del Paine National Parks eastern end. I really was in heaven, having seen and filmed 2 Pumas earlier on in the day, I was now basking in the magnificent scenery in the fading dusk light, and all my concentration was focused on a huge male Patagonian Puma, that in turn, had every part of his mind clearly focused on it’s intended victim, a lone Guanaco grazing on the steep slopes of a rocky escarpment above the Goic lake.
I noticed the battery level in my camera was very low, so I quickly swapped for a fresh one, then ….well, then nothing……I was dead in the water, camera as dead as the parrot in the infamous Monty Python sketch. I was mortified, and had to let out a primordial scream to vent my frustration.
I was in Puma heaven all day, literally up to my teeth with them, and then the camera has a sense of humour failure !!!. Here I am at the ass end of the South American continent, and if an engineer a friend has located in Puerto Natales, cannot solve the problem my Panasonic P2camera has,I have no option but to spend time and money, I can ill afford either, to fly 4 hours up to the Capitol, Santiago, and hope the technician there can solve the problem, The camera is only 2 years old, has been very well cared for, but I guess these things happen, but why oh why now????
I have a DSLR that shoots video, but I am not set up with all the accessories needed to turn it into a useable unit to film with, I do however have a new GoPro 6, and that little beast has already paid for itself in one afternoon.
I took the opportunity to place the GoPro right next to the carcass of the unfortunate Guanaco, when the cat had fed and then wandered off to a bush nearby to sleep it off, I wedged it in some small stones and a few small branches laying around. I used the remote to start recording as the cat moved in and the results are, if I may be so bold to blow my own trumpet….. Spectacular.
As I watched the footage in the warmth and comfort of the park rangers hut later that night, I could not in any way have asked for better results. The cat was having a feast, and it is was all taking place about 60cms away from the camera, capturing it in 4K quality. The cat was working it’s way down the long neck, snapping and grinding bones, tearing off chunks, and how she never dislodged the camera as she moved around the carcass , I will never know.
At one point she moves her rear end and stands astride the camera, so the view is of the under side of her body along to her neck and head which is busy devouring the carcass, the producer I am working with in Bristol, will be one the moon when this arrives in his Dropbox account, and the Nat Geo Wild film crew, who were here for a month filming, and left just over a week ago, would be spitting nails if they knew what I had captured over the last few days…….
Sadly I am the one spitting nails and howling at the moon again, thanks to my camera malfunction, so tomorrow I head to Puerto Natales, and then onto Santiago where I hope all my problems will be solved, quickly and relatively cheaply, because at the moment my personal budget for this 4 month filming stint, which hopefully will see me through the winter in Torres del Paine, is somewhat smaller than that of the Nat Geo Wild crew that just left.
I am the eternal optimist, so I have no doubt it will not be long before I am back in the park, and teeth deep in Pumas again, winter is just around the corner ………. I cant wait.
I get to drop my camera off today in town, andI will no doubt spend the remainder of the weekend biting my nails and driving myself insane wondering if I am going to get lucky, or find myself heading to Santiago and drastically reducing my limited funds, ( much needed to feed myself through the winter months ) on an outrageous camera repair, food and accommodation in a city I have no desire to spend more than 5 minutes in,
We shall see…………