I was able to redeem myself on this morning for breakfast the previous day. Granted, I only made oatmeal, but no burning occurred! It tasted as good as oatmeal can possibly taste, even with copious amounts of brown sugar. I'll put that one in the win column. And oatmeal is certainly filling. Woohoo, two wins for oatmeal in one day!
The day ended up being very chill. With our packs lighter every day, the five mile hike across relatively flat terrain seemed extremely easy. We completed it in around 3 hours, which, given the fact that we took 2 20-minute breaks, means we went faster than 2 miles/hour. The group sneaked in their Sonic the Hedgehog pills today. The chill hike also gave me a chance to have a thorough conversation with Annemarie, the course leader, and I enjoyed that very much.
As we were in camp by 4, we had the opportunity to rest and relax for an hour or so before starting up dinner. One thing I've neglected to mention up until this point is how much hot meals become the true community focal point. There is no 10 minute dinner (4 minutes to warm up your frozen dish, 5 minutes to eat, 1 to throw everything in the dishwasher). Between getting all the ingredients ready, boiling water, preparation, eating, and clean up, it generally took around 1.5 - 2 hours to cook, depending on the meal. It is important to note that cleaning is not done with soap, because the soap we carry is very concentrated and can act as a laxative even if you ingest a tiny bit from leftover washing. You have to boil water then scrub each pot and/or pan with your hands. The entire process made a guy wonder why he ever complained about having to put his dishes in the dishwasher (No, of course I'm not talking about me. I'm sure my Dad will agree...).
For dinner, we had a couscous/quinoa/cheese mix that was quite delectable. I'd never had either form of pasta before, with both looking like little round balls. Apparently quinoa has a lot of protein, which in turn made it one of my bestest friends.
The night brought the first student spotlight of the trip, for which Asante readily volunteered. He did a great job setting the standard for everyone else. In case I didn't mention it before, a spotlight consisted of a person giving a 5 minute story about themselves then answering 10 minutes worth of questions from the group. It was a great way to help everyone get to know each other better and to build group unity.
To finish off the night, the instructors passed out to all of us the various nature information books and pamphlets that they were carrying for our use out here. It was our job to sell the piece of information to everyone else in order to help everyone know what there was to offer. I decided to break out "Silly Ben" for my sales pitch. When my turn came, I jumped up quickly and offered my best sales pitch in my best radio announcer voice, pointing and waving every which way. My pamphlet had something to do with birds of prey, so my angle was to make the listener feel silly because some huge bird went overhead and the listener didn't know what it was. If only they'd had the pamphlet, they wouldn't have looked so silly in front of their friends!! I have no idea what I specifically said, but everyone laughed and I could barely keep a straight face. Good way to end a nice, easy day :).
Had a good bit of trouble sleeping on the previous night, just laying there in the tent thinking about God knows what. It's the worst when you are lying there in a bed or a tent or anywhere, trying to get to sleep, but you lay awake like it's 11 AM on a Wednesday morning. I supposed that it was because of the layover day. I didn't exert any energy and therefore did not sleep like a log. Small price to pay for a little chill time :).