The end of a holiday, but the start of a journey

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April 26th 2011
Published: April 26th 2011
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I know the first thing that you are thinking as you read this is probably, bloody hell why is this entry so late. You’ve been home for 1,455 days, why that’s 44 times longer than the time you were away for! Why are you bothering to write it now? More importantly, why am I wasting my time reading this entry now when I have already heard a million stories about this holiday? Stop wasting my time Mikey, you jerk.

And I admit, all of the above points are totally valid and I accept all criticism for taking so long to write this entry.

But this has been on my to-do list for over 4 years. I knew I would return to finish this off one day, and today is that day.

It has been a heck of a 4 and a bit years. But now it’s time to sit back, relax, and head back into a web-based time machine.

I’m assuming that the fact you have read this far down means that you are obviously pretty bored at work or actually may be interested in the trip so there’ll be no abridged version of this diary. So without further ado, enough of the procrastination – it’s time for Mikey’s South American Adventure Part II.

I left you last in Bariloche, a beautiful ski town in the Patagonian region of Argentina. Armed with my newly acquired notebook from Valparaiso, our first full day in Argentina day began at around lunch time after a sleep in we were all gagging for (especially after the events at the border one the previous day) and we started the day with an incredible and typical Argentinian meal of Beef y Chorizo, Ravioli (40% of Argentinians can claim Italian heritage) and beer and wine to boot. After loosening the belt buckles a notch or two, we decided a walk was in order as we explored the quaint little township, traversing its main street “Calle Mitre” and enjoying the distinctly German flavour that Bariloche has to offer. This was not any more noticeable than in Bariloche’s famous chocolate industry as we sampled some of the finest chocolate known to man and resisted a multitude of attempts from people on the street to lure us into their chocolate shops (the dudes seriously looked and acted like drug dealers as they approached us and tried to get us to buy their chocolate). As we explored the town further, Tony and I were particularly enthralled by the town cathedral, which is made entirely of stones and truly incredible from the inside. The word spectacular springs to mind as we sat in the cathedral for nigh on an hour simply admiring its awesomeness and enjoying one of those few moments in life when you have a chance to reflect on how fortunate you are, and get a little bit excited about what the future may hold for you in a number of areas of your life.

The day was a nice change of pace, very relaxing and provided us with much needed energy for the evening’s activities as we decided to sample Argentinian nightlife (and get a bit closer to some of this magnificent country’s female population with the assistance of some dutch courage).

In true South American style, we pre-drank before hitting the town, smashed some pizza, had some drinks and played some games. We also made a special presentation to Francisco (a new jacket) and Tata (a briefcase) as a thank you for their incredible hospitality thus far. It was a special night, and one of the last nights that the World Travel Crew would be in full attendance.

Post pre-drinks (i.e. drinks), we hit a couple of bars including the Roxy before settling into the wee hours of the morning in a night club ‘Rocket’ – complete with free ‘Rocket Fuel’ (the strongest, freest drink known to man), a multi-level night club with latin-flavoured dancefloors and Francisco’s obsession with whistling very loudly in time with the music. An awesome night was had by all, as evidenced by our returning to our accommodation at 9AM Sunday…

The Sabbath saw a day of rest for our crew as we rose at 3PM and headed immediately for a greasy lunch at Playa Serena. Those in our group who were restless at the lack of activity on this day were soon mesmerized as we ascended up to the peak of Cerro Campanario – one of those highlights in life you hope you never forget.

Muhli likened it to the first time he saw the Taj Mahal. We were all absolutely stunned by the breathtaking beauty that awaited us at the summit. The depth of detail and rich landscape was like none we had seen before - layers of lake upon mountain upon peninsula, and a vista that you could never achieve in Australia’s climate. Words cannot do it justice, and nor can photos. It was a truly spiritual experience and the hundreds of photos we each took coupled with our uncharacteristic silence really said it all. A particularly special moment in a holiday already filled with dozens of them.

That night we had a final dinner as the WTC in a traditional Argentinian restaurant, the food of the night being fondue followed by Flan con dolce de leche. A fittingly delicious end to a gastronomically delightful country.

Monday - the start of a new week and the start of a new chapter for our holiday. We were excited about our remaining plans (or lack thereof) but were equally sad to have to be saying goodbye to the Columbians Felipe and Dave and my Mexican hermano Teuton / Aussie Dave. Don’t worry Dave, I’ll see you in Spain in 3 years ;-)

It was our last full day in Argentina, so it was only fitting that we hit the home stretch enjoying what Argentinians are famous for – no not the attractive women, but meat-centric gastronomic delights! Today’s meal consisted of Bread with Chimmi Churri, Chorizo and Blood Pudding and Lomo – the back strap of a cow and easily the most tender cut of meat I have ever had and will ever had. I literally enjoyed the whole piece of meat without the assistance of a knife. Mind bendingly good. Why this meal was followed by dessert (Flan con Dulce de Leche) I will never know, but needless to say that stomachs were satisfied albeit pregnant in appearance!

As we departed Bariloche, it became apparent what a beautiful part of the world we were in (and whilst we were in the midst of summer, we could only marvel at how beautiful this mountainous area would be in the thick of snow season in June). It was a lovely drive through the Southern region of Argentina (Patagonia) and we eventually arrived in ‘El Bolson’ – a little hippy town in the south of Argentina and whose town motto translates to ‘Where the magic is natural’.

It was a very interesting little place – a coastal feel in the middle of an alpine landscape. We spent the evening hiking up one of the mountains with beer and papas to a lookout called ‘Indian head’ where we took some time to relax, soak in our beautiful surrounds and had our daily dose of ‘jive talking’ to boot. Many jokes were also made to Tata about how ‘Rocky’ the landscape was – well, at least Tony and I enjoyed it…

That night was spent enjoying an awesome meal at a local Italian restaurant, topped off with ‘cervezas con frambuesas (raspberries) y casis (blackcurrants)’. Good times! Tonight was also a special night, as I also had one of those moments in life that you don’t forget – I listened to a Spanish conversation of Jamie and Chancho’s which I understood a great deal of. It’s a feeling I hope I have again some day!

Today was our last day in Argentina, and we began it by exploring El Bolson. It was particularly interesting to observe that the hippy link with markets is global. After arming ourselves with some souvenirs, we boarded the Nifty Mobile to cross the border back to Chile. Lo and behold, the beginning of Nifty’s demise occurred on this day – our first tire was blown and we were stranded. Out came the drinks and Roro and Pancho declared for the first of many times that ‘the bar was open’. When life deals you lemons…

We got to the border and to save ourselves from similar hassles to our first border crossing, we declared we were hitchhikers in Nifty’s bus. Problem solved. Shortly after, we arrived in Futalafeu – a quaint and homely little town, a really lovely little place and what Tata and Chancho described to us as ‘the real Chile’. I always find it quite interesting that whether you are in Australia or Chile, our country towns are considered the epicenter of national identity. We enjoyed a home style meal at a local café, wonderful country service and a good time all round.

Our night ended back at our lodge. 9 dudes, 6 beds – the 3 losers of our poker game being the ones sleeping on the floor. Yep, of course I was one (and the first) of them :-)

Wednesday morning – we wolfed down a quick breakfast before tucking into what Futalafeu is famous for – extreme sports. Today’s instalment – whitewater rafting. Previous experiences whitewater rafting had been of the best memories I have from holidays, and today was no different. I loved that feeling of being on a ‘natural ride’ but also having no idea what way your boat will be moving next. Of course it does tend to get a bit predictable when all of the blokes decide to all stand at the front of the boat and lean into the next rapid…! Good memories all round.

Our new family decided to take it in turns to cook dinner. Today was me and Chancho’s turn to organize a meal for everyone. A few times during the day I asked Francisco what were going to do for dinner and his response was always the same – “It’s ok, I have dinner organised”. Returning to our house, we were all wondering why a lamb was tied up in the front yard, and then it dawned on me – we were about to enjoy another aspect of Chilean culture!

A local farmer arrived at the house shortly after and took the lamb into a shed. Only 4 or 5 of us were game enough to endure the very early stages of our ‘meal preparation’. I found it quite confronting seeing an animal killed in front of me for the first time, but I also felt it was hypocritical to eat meat but ignore the reality of where each meal I have begins.

What I didn’t prepare myself for though was the local delicacy we were about to try ‘Nia Chi’. Basically, the lamb’s jugular spits out a shit load of blood which is collected in a bowl. The blood congeals into a veritable jelly, at which point olive oil, salt and pepper are added, and you dip you bread in it. Obviously we tried it (well Tony and I did, despite Tata imploring us not to). Surprisingly delicious. The part I liked the most though was that local custom dictates that to kill any parasites in the nia chi, you need to drink a lot of red wine shortly afterwards – and that is what we did (we didn’t have a choice, did we?)

The end of the night will forever be recalled at the night that Sushi got way too drunk and Chancho claimed that he ‘made jerk’.

The following morning we had a very early rise – today’s destination was some local waterfalls for the sport of ‘canyoning’. I was really uneasy with this one – it wasn’t until we were on the bus that I alerted the crew to the fact that I was scared of heights. Abseiling on its own terrified me enough, let alone through waterfalls. But never to shy away from an experience, I decided to grin and bear it, willed on by my ‘supportive’ global citizens.

So I was about the 8th or 9th person to attack the first waterfall. I took my first tentative steps, with the boys chanting my name to inspire me along. About two thirds of the way down, I started to get the hang of it… I’m not sure if I enjoyed it, but I was at least happier to be closer to the bottom than the top. The next part ended up being the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me – whether it was due to my overconfidence, haste, nerves or just some unfortunate incident I am unsure, but one thing’s for sure – I will never forget this day for the rest of my life.

As I crept down the cliff, my foot got stuck underneath a rock. Panicking slightly, I released a bit too much rope and decided to try and walk down out of my predicament. I was then hanging upside down, swung rapidly to my right and all of a sudden was stuck upside down underneath a waterfall. Our guide had said earlier that if you are stuck underneath, you have to close your mouth (or otherwise can drown to death). My mouth was open, and the velocity with which the water was hitting my jaw was so intense that I couldn’t move my mouth. I honestly thought I was about to die and now understand what people mean when they talk about that moment when your life flashes before your eyes. I’m not sure if this lasted 20 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 seconds or 2 minutes, but it felt like 5 minutes. I was helpless, my jaw was in agony and there was nothing I could do. All of a sudden I heard the guide screaming, the boys pulled on my rope and winched me out of the waterfall. I was definitely in a mild form or shock, and based on my inability to think clearly that night and the dull headache I had for a few days, I definitely think I was concussed. Everyone was very concerned for me, but Tata couldn’t stop laughing. Everyone deals with intense moments differently, hey?

I got to the bottom eventually and pulled myself together. Tony took me under a waterfall to get me used to the water again and I was given the choice to walk to the bottom, or keep going with the canyoning. I knew if I chickened out now it would ruin any chance of me abseiling or even visiting a waterfall again, so I had to get back on the horse (there was no other option in my mind!) I was really proud of myself for getting to the bottom that day, there was a steely determination in my mind and also a desire to get the fuck out of there! Whilst I wasn’t ready to do it through a waterfall again, just getting down the cliff is something I was so so proud of (and still am to this day).

We had a quiet afternoon (thankfully for me – I was feeling rather average). I strongly recall calling Dad and as soon as he answered, he knew something was wrong. Fatherly intuition :-) That night, it was time to eat our newly acquired lamb! And let me tell you, it was bloody delicious and it great to see it cooked over the fire and eat the freshest of all meat together as a group (complete with two dutchies who were staying next door). Tonight was a sad night as it was our last family meal with all the Mexicans. It was a special meal and a nice way to say goodbye to our new mates.

On the road again… destination – the Isle of Chiloe! Today was a big day on the road, but we had plenty of time to make the 3PM boat… or so we thought…

Yes, our trusty driver Nifty had done it again. The trailer (or trolley as Tata preferred to call it) kept having issues, and it spent a considerable amount of the day bouncing around, getting progressively worse as the day went on. We had to stop twice to make two makeshift fixes, at each point Roro would open the bar for drinks and cigarettes to pass the time. A perfect example of how things screwing up can often become your best holiday memories.

The pressure was getting to Francisco and Tata too, who kept walking away from the van to argue about nothing in particular. Each argument usually related to Tata stressing and Francisco relaxing too much.

As we wound close to the ferry to Chiloe, the trailer was barely holding together and we were stopping constantly to try and keep it together. The suspension had snapped, the trailer was falling apart and everyone kept looking at us - it looked like we might miss our boat to Chiloe. But as seemed to constantly be the case, everything always works out for the best in Chile. We literally rolled the trailer onto the boat at Puerto Montt and the gates to the ferry closed behind us. Thankfully we were now on our way to the island - it was a 6 hour boat ride to Chiloe, which was a nice chance to recharge the batteries and enjoy the beautiful Chilean coast. Chiloe is a very traditional island and embodies a very simple form of Chilean living – we were all really looking forward to the change of pace. We had a quick bite to eat and hit the hay. All in all, a very eventful day!

After the events of the day before (and the death defying events of days prior), we had a much needed sleep in today, which also gave Nifty a chance to fix our ‘trolley’. After a noticeably more sombre breakfast and coffee, it was time to say goodbye to our Mexican friends – which was very sad, but we all knew that it was not goodbye, but only a ‘til next time’.

A significant part of the day was devoted to exploring Chiloe by foot – however our plan was thwarted when Francisco discovered a coin game at a local arcade parlour, and we spent the best part of 90 minutes trying to win the loot. Please imagine how annoyed Tata was getting at this stage, which I sometimes thinks makes Francisco dig his heels in more! Dragging him away from Timezone, we went for a walk down to the Marina where we enjoyed a very local lunch of ‘sopa de mariscos’, crab, mussels and local fish. Awesome stuff. The rest of the day was spent shopping, before we went to mass at a magnificent Chilean church – a very special experience.

That night ended in dinner an Italian restaurant and a pub experience which I will never forget. Not only did you order small kegs of beer to be drunk at your table (!), BUT out of nowhere ‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham came on the jukebox! Talk about random. Later that night as we stumbled home, Francisco picked up the cleaning lady at our hotel and slept through our wake up call.

Sunday 21st January – we had an early rise and a new trailer (apparently). Today we had an action packed day planned, and the benefit of a vehicle to see a great deal of the island. As always, our itinerary was hidden from us which added to the adventure of what we were doing. Our first stop was El Chejo, a small village with a tidal shift of 7 metres! This means that the houses need to be on stilts, and when we arrived – the boats were sitting on the sand bed (yet were floating when we returned that evening!) Our next stop was a beautiful little church in a really lovely little town by the name of Dalcahue. We ended up at a marina, where we proceeded to jump on a crappy boat – destination: a tiny island off Chiloe (the Isla de Quinchao) where we headed to their annual festival!

What awaited us on the island was quite simply - unbelievable. One of those moments in life where you feel like an explorer – literally the first Aussies to ever set foot in an event or at a certain place (let alone a Sri Lankan or a Jap!) The festival was overwhelmingly South American – a melting pot of music, traditional food, drinks, games (who can forget Sushi joining the local game of Tug of War ‘tirar la cuerda’) and people having fun. Easily the most Chilean experience we had while we were away and a definitive highlight of our time in Chile.

But the excitement didn’t stop there. Francisco had a photo of us made into a calendar so we would never forget that day. It was such a special moment to cap off a remarkable afternoon. I must say a tear was shed.

After a day in the sun and 4 or 5 too many drinks, we headed back on a boat to the main island, where the highlights of the day just kept on rolling… Francisco and Roro took exception to the price of the boat fare (believing it was too expensive for the locals). The boys got into a heated argument with the attendant on the boat, and ended up removing their shirts and tying them to their heads. The locals were unhappy with the situation, and the captain ended up stopping the boat in the middle of the ocean. Of course, you need to imagine this entire event was happening in Spanish (i.e. we had no idea what was going on other than Chancho and Roro were angry, Tata and the locals were angry at them, and the captain wasn’t going to continue to Chiloe until we paid our money).

Eventually we paid our money and were on our merry way – you can imagine our astonishment to find out that the amount of money they took exception to paying was about $1.50 US! And here we were thinking Francisco Guevara was starting a revolution!

We then met Nifty who drove us to Puerto Varas, a really pretty little town on Lago Llanquihue. We had a solid Italian meal, watched Chile play in the soccer (goooooooalllllllllllllllllllll) and spent the rest of our night at the casino! Of course, Francisco cleaned up, and Tony / Mikey spent the night carrying on like idiots (‘hit me’ / ‘Dublin your money’). Another cracker of a night to add to the repertoire of awesome evenings Chile had kindly provided us. My sleep that night was creepily interrupted by Nifty tucking me in and I responded by hissing at him like a cat. I can assure you though, this ended up being the least of our worries with Nifty during the next 24 hours!

Our Monday plan was simple. Drive about 1,000 km from Puerto Varas to Santiago, stopping for a quick meal at Francisco’s friend Fran’s house along the way. Our adventurous driving distance meant we had no time for delays, but of course our trusty old trailer had different ideas. Things got pretty tense on the bus, Nifty wouldn’t let the tyres down because he didn’t want to have to inflate them again, and the trailer was struggling so much it was making the car shake and at one stage nearly tipped the car over. That was as far as the boys would let Nifty go, and we proceeded to leave the trailer on the side of the road for Nifty to sort out. Our 3 hour trip to Fran’s house in Lake Colico became an 8 hour trip, so we ended up having to stay the night there. Needless to say we arrived in a disheveled state – our constant delays meant the World Travel Crew bar opened many times that day!

But what was a minor frustration ended up being a magnificent twist in the tale of our holiday!

To this very day I have never seen a house quite like Fran’s house. It really gave us an insight into how being wealthy in Chile can improve one’s quality of life. Labour and materials are so cheap, so you can essentially build your dream house and employ a team to run it, meaning your holidays there are truly care-free. This particular house had it all, a cinema, elevator providing food and drinks to a party area next to the lake, its own harbour (obviously complete with boats as well) but the ‘Pièce de résistance’ was definitely their private golf course, which they only had to share with their neighbours – who were their family too! Murphys eat your heart out! There were staff of about 10 who were shared between the two houses. What a lifestyle!

That night our troubles during the day were quickly forgotten as we had an amazing dinner, drinks, an early birthday party for Chancho and learnt a new dice game that was the ultimate drinking game. It was so nice to meet even more Chileans and once again, gain an insight into how Chilean families live. The uniqueness of the situation we found ourselves in once again was certainly not lost on me!

As we tried to resolve our travel situation, the next morning commenced with a suitably hearty breakfast (of course with palta!) before heading out on Lago Colico on Fran’s boat – enjoying a nice swim and checking out our beautiful surrounds. We had an awesome lunch back at Fran’s house before we had to say an emotional goodbye to Francisco (and also Roro). It was terribly sad and beginning to really hit me that our holiday was winding to its inevitable end.

Nifty was driving us to Temuco – yes that’s right, we had given him the veritable bullet and had decided to get an overnight bus back to Santiago to guarantee our path to safety! I will never know what happened to Nifty, but I am pretty sure his business venture (of which we were his first client) would not have gone on to become the Contiki of Chile! (N.B. we tried to contact him on a trip to Chile 2.5 years later, but his phone had been disconnected. Needless to say, I still carry his card around in my wallet as a reminder of how fun life can be!)

We arrived in Santiago finally, where we headed to Tata’s house for a lovely breakfast, some shopping and lunch with the nicest family in the world. That evening, we flew to Buenos Aires and it was farewell to Chile (at least on this trip, but I think we all knew it wouldn’t be forever!)

Arriving in BA was a small culture shock, you don’t realise how relatively small Chile is until you hit a grand old city like Buenos Aires. I was instantly struck by its European architecture, grand and dramatic streets (such as ‘25 de Mayo’) and enormous scale. We were staying at a placed called the Penthouse (surely a good sign) and soon after we settled into our hotel, decided to head out for some dinner and a few drinks.

Amazingly, our waiter remembered all of our meal orders (there were 5 of us by this stage) and according to Tata, this is a hallmark of food service in Buenos Aires, where the waiters take enormous pride in not writing down any food of drink orders on their tables. It was funny being without Francisco, and was interesting to see Tata take control and try and incorporate the fun element that Chancho very much brought to the trip. After dinner, a man approached us asking if we wanted to head into his bar, Tata sussed it out and told us to follow the man, with a sly grin on his face which read ‘Francisco isn’t the only crazy Chilean you know’.

However, when we ended up arriving at a brothel / strip club, the colour drained from Tata’s face! He was clearly out of his comfort zone! It was hilarious and we decided to head back to the hotel and cut our losses – surely the night had hit is pinnacle…!

Having forgotten that Tata was from Chile, it soon dawned on us on Thursday morning that today was the first day of the trip when we had all been tourists! We went for a walk through the city (including a famous book shop in an old theatre), and we were absolutely blown away by the beauty of the architecture in the city but even more impressively, the women! Easily the most stunning female specimens we had even seen.

We then went on to do a tour of the city, the main square, and the famous balcony where Evita cried out to the local Argentinians. Buenos Aires has well and truly blown me away with its beauty.

That night, we caught up with an old Argy mate from Macquarie Uni – Nacho – who took us out for a dinner complete with entranas (read – the entrails of various animals). My favourites were the intestines and the throat of whatever animal we were eating. We then celebrated Australia Day at a famous bar called the Shamrock. We got up and sang the national anthem at one stage (much to Tata’s embarrassment) and had a really fun night, trying the local Quilmes (great beer) and Fernet (local spirit, very much an acquired taste!)

Friday the 26th January – a quick breakfast was wolfed down before heading to La Boca, an amazing little section of Buenos Aires where the poor of the city used to live. La Boca is where tango originated and it is no surprise when you understand the colour and heart of this little gem of a place. It is oozing personality and energy. The ships that used to dock nearby often offloaded their paint to the locals, so the colour of each house depends on whatever paint they could get their hands on – the result is a unique and insanely colourful part of the city. La Boca is the South America that we all picture back in Australia.

But what most people would know La Boca for is the famous football team – the ‘Boca Juniors’ who play out of their chocolate box shaped stadium – ‘La Bomboniera’, the scene of many famous goals scored by the God of Argentina – Diego Maradona. We understood this man was worshipped in the city, but I truly didn’t appreciate how much he was revered until we arrived at La Boca. There was a statue of him, and countless pieces of Maradona merchandise. He didn’t even play all his career at the club, but his successful World Cup campaign in 1978 was enough to etch this man into Argentinian immortality. There was a t-shirt I saw which summed it up perfectly – There were 4 pictures: A stadium, a soccer ball, a football rule book, and a picture of Maradona. The words underneath translated into English were: The Church, The Chalice, The Bible, The God. Says it all really.

The stadium tour was fantastic, and could only have been topped by standing behind the wooden benches and watching a game live at the stadium! Always a reason to go back :-)

That afternoon we did a bit of shopping at an old mansion, Tata wouldn’t let us see Rocky 6 (hahaha) and our night ended as so many in Argentina did - pasta and a pisco piss up. Good times.

Saturday was a day of mixed emotions. Obviously it was great to spend more time in this beautiful city, but it was also our last day together in Argentina (and South America). We started off at ‘La Basilica’ and an old cemetery where the wealthy of Argentina were buried. For some reason, I remember there being dozens of mind-bendingly beautiful women in this area – ah the things one remembers. We then hit the markets and the main retail precinct of the city at ‘Florida’ where we were treated to a display of Tango in the middle of the street. This city was so alive!

After another sad farewell (this time to Sushi) we had our final team dinner at one of the city’s nicest restaurants (as Tony would call it – Gucci!) This place was so nice in fact that they sat us in the corner of the room near the toilets hahahaha! But the meal was sensational, the wine to die for and Tata generously paid for our meal that night. It was a really special one.

We then headed to the casino to finish off our night. Funnily enough, casinos are legal in Argentina but not in Buenos Aires. One would think that this would mean you couldn’t gamble in Buenos Aires. But desperate times call for entrepreneurial thinking – a genius discovered that 200 metres out to sea, Buenos Aires become ‘Argentinian waters’. So his solution – set up floating casinos on two huge ships, linked to the shore by huge platforms. This man’s inventive thinking still impresses me to this day!

We had a top night at the casino, the main memory I have of the evening being Tony and I doubling $200 USD to $400 to $800 to $1,600 and walking away even (but with some amazing adrenaline rushes to show for it!). It was a suitably great way to end our time as a group. The perfect last night for the Citizens of the World in South America.

At 4AM, we were awoken by Tata leaving for the airport. Thankfully it was too early to be sad, but I think we had accepted the inevitability of this being the end of our perfect summer by this stage. It was only after he left that we realised we were on our own and had no one to speak Spanish for us – this is when the fun began :-) We said goodbye to Muhli (who was meeting Sushi in Iguaza Falls), and Tony and I went on an awesome walk of the city. We headed to the Pink Palace, the Cathedral, were treated like Kings at a café thanks to a generous tip and generally enjoyed each other’s company as we had so many times on this holiday.

It was then time to pack our bags and head home. We headed to the airport and at this stage, Tony wasn’t sure if he could get on my flight (he was due to fly out the following day). But in true South American style, I was sitting in my seat acquainting myself with the Aerolineas Argentinas movie schedule when big happy Tony came bounding onto the plane – it all worked out in the end.

To quantify or verbalise the effect this holiday has had on me as a person is almost impossible. Needless to say over 4 years later, I still think about Chile every single day. The people, the culture, the landscape, the hospitality, the laughs and the friendship – it constantly lives in my blood. It made me realise that wherever you are in life, good people maketh the moment and have to be held onto. Such experiences in life are often passed up for a number of reasons, yet the memories and gifts my time in Chile and Argentina have given me are so numerous that I don’t believe there is any better investment than in friendship and travel.

We will never be able to thank Tata and Francisco enough for the holiday they created for us. They were so proud to showcase their country to a motley crew of international visitors and the experience of seeing such an amazing part of the world by locals with locals is something you can rarely recreate in life. I hope to one day repay them for the lifelong memories and friendships they created for us. As history has shown me, if the plan is created, the friendships will make the moment spectacular.

Until next time, jar bless.


P.S. Better late than never ;-)


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