I’m pretending to sleep in a tent under a huge old tree, not at all comfortably. My back feels like knives are repeatedly being jabbed at it, and the only distraction from this pain is the sound of a hermit crab scratching desperately at my tent to try to get in. I can picture his small crustaceous face full of hope for an easy meal, using claws to move forward in his crabby little life.
I’ve put my marriage on the line by locking us into an adventure involving primitive camping in the middle of nowhere. My hubby is not a happy camper, he’s a miserable and cranky one. He’s shooting eye darts at me whenever he thinks I’m not looking. Why did I do this to him, and to myself?!
It all has to do with lights. Light pollution puts a damper on the night sky; without it, we can see into the past, see our place in the universe and view the Milky Way. Humans used to be humbled by this sight nightly, but now, due to light pollution, with this sight obscured, I think the human ego has become too big. The true night sky is something everyone should see, at least once, in order to feel the proper amount of wonder at just being alive.
Dry Tortugas lies about 70 miles from civilization and all those pesky lights, a tiny island between Florida and Cuba, which gets its fair share of visitors from both sides, some legal, some not. Fort Jefferson sits atop the main island, a brick-and-mortar fortress once used for defense, now crumbling under the summer sun, kind of like how I feel here.
August in the tropics is a hot mess. The sun is too strong to opt out of applying sunscreen, and wearing a hat is unfortunately a must, which combine to make you feel even more sticky and miserable. Now imagine, the boat that dropped you off, leaves you here alone, with just a handful of other campers. No fresh water, no facilities – just you and Mother Nature. Self-sufficiency isn’t something we usually have to think about, living in a society which provides us with so much that we take for granted.
Primitive camping…it’s not for everyone, for sure, but it does make you think about the way we live today vs. the way we used to live in the way back. It’s also a means to an end because seeing the night sky in all its glory is worth it in the end. There is no photo that I could take that would have done it justice, so I leave you with a challenge to find your way of seeing it too.