The day I ate chocolate.

How weird?  Who doesn’t like chocolate?

Even if you don’t believe it, I don’t like chocolate.

But one day, I had to eat it.

Story started one Sunday afternoon at the beginning of the summer.  My dad’s cousin, a priest in charge of a seminar nearby, was visiting us.

While we finished dessert, he looked at me and said:

-“You know this summer we will be going with to do a campout with a group of the church. May be you want to come?”

For me, an active kid that loved to travel to new places was an exciting adventure.

He continued talking while I listened carefully:

“We will go by train, a 20 hour ride and will spend 30 days on the shores of the Rio Atuel” – he said.

I was all in, just for the train ride, I’ll go.

I thought, whatever else comes, it will be an amazing plus.

That summer, I was 14.  The night before leaving I couldn’t sleep.

My uncle was clear:

-“Train leaves at 6am and waits for no one.”

I got my parents to get there at 4am to make sure we were ontime.

Between then 5am  a crowd of kids arrived,  We were 90 kids from kindergarten all the way to high school.

Train platform was  a mess, my uncle an the other leaders called a few of us, the grown ups.

I felt an adult, they divided us on patrols, explained the buddy system and how we would board the train.

-All on board! -said the guard.

The trip was long but fun, singing and watching the sights over the windows.

When we arrived to the campsite, I couldn’t believe the natural beauty.

My uncle was well connected with the Argentinian Army and they sponsored our trip, they provided tents, the site and some logistics to buy the food when needed.

You may be thinking,

-“What is going on, I want to know why you ate chocolate.”

I am getting there.

A week into the campout, my uncle gathered the group.

-“Tomorrow we will be climbing a mountain, pack water, some snacks and be ready for leaving right after breakfast 7am sharp”

We started walking around 8am, we crossed the river, and continue the trail that was getting us into the mountain.

The group was slow, kids from all ages 6-14 years old, around noon the leaders announced we were stopping for lunch.

While we ate, my uncle said:

-“It is noon, the path is going up and if we don’t turn around now we won’t make it before night”

Me, stubborn, insisted. –“Let’s get going up and we go back to camp through the other side of the mountain.”

My uncle hesitated, he was responsible for a huge group but at the same time I know he and the other priest” Porfirio” liked adventure

-“I don’t know”, he said.  I insisted again: “Please, can we go?”.

He then said to the seminarians in charge of the small kids:

-“You guys get the small kids back to camp and me and Porfirio will go with the teenagers up and around the mountain”

That is how I started this mess.

We resumed the climb following a small stream of water, after walking about an hour we got to a place that there was a fall of about 3 yards in between walls rock walls. There was no other way. The width between the rock walls was about 8 feet. We decided to climb and continue walking in the water trying to reach the top.

Another hour went by and one of the fellow teenagers said: -“I am tired, let’s go back the way we came”

I insisted, –“No, we are almost on top, once we reach the other side must be easier to walk down”.

The rest of the group seemed to agree and we kept going.

-“WE ARE ALMOST THERE”, I screamed when I started to see that we were reaching the top.

What a surprise we got when we reached the top only to see that there was another mountain that we couldn’t see from the trail.

By then it was getting darker and we decided to rest for a few minutes, with no food and little water.

One kid was wondering in his backpack and all of a sudden he shouted: –“I have a chocolate bar!!”

-“What? Chocolate?” – I thought.

But, –“Guess what?”

Hunger beats taste.

I ate that chocolate bar like if it was the the best delicacy of the world.

Thankfully after that rest stop, the moon came out and lightened the night, we continued walking, crossed the river and make it  back to the camp around 3am.

The rest of the group arrived around 6pm and were already in contact with the Army evaluating to start a search and rescue operation.

I forcefully learned a few lessons that day:

“Listen to the experienced, be ready,  plan ahead & be grateful for what you have”

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