A new day, a new dawn, a new light – Day 13 (10th December)

Today was a new day. This is usually a very moot and pointless expression, and I personally have a very over-the-top but negative attitude towards phrases of the kind. However, in this case I feel it appropriately describes and summarises our adventure over the last 12+ hours, based on the three main factors you look for when determining anything… Location, location, location.
Resentfully, the alarm burst into action at about 8 o’clock ( I can’t be exact because I have no understanding of time in the morning), and was met with the usual moans and groans from moi and a very lively leap out of bed from benj. Once I remembered why I had been awoke at such a ghastly hour, I slowly grew into something resembling a human being trudged towards the bathroom to get ready.

A few cornflakes later we left the hostel with no one in sight, and dragged ourselves to the Bluegreen office where an anonymous woman named Vickie was meeting us. If you think this sounds like a very weird situation, you might need to know Vickie is a friend of Leanne and was tasked with carting us across the border into Argentina and all the way to Calafate.
The journey over was a fairly comfortable one at first, even after the efforts of the plump Argentine military official who did his very best to intimidate us in to giving up our many weapons and illegal substances but we stood firm and all he got was a little apple. Would do him good to eat it. Our smooth journey was soon interrupted however, as Vickie accidentally took a turning which lead us off the beautiful smooth tarmac and onto a track consisting of huge piles of rubble and stones. Although this route was shorter in distance, I didn’t appreciate this mistake a great deal once my ass cramped up so painfully I had to resort to lunging over benj, something neither of us wanted to happen.

A few hours later though, I had forgotten all about my aches and pains, as the wildlife of Patagonia soon revealed itself for us all to see. My pictures provide the evidence of the many Condor’s, Guanoco’s, Niandu’s and even an armadillo we saw on the journey over, and the seizure of the skull of a dead Niandu and some feathers completed our spontaneous safari through Argentina. The journey didn’t end there however, featuring some astonishing views of dry desertous lands partnered with towering mountains, as well as a cool live photo which somehow captured our whole personalities in one snap.
The end of our journey brought us into a completely new environment to Natales, and revealed a newer and more developed town, complete with numerous restaurants and bars which almost resembled something of a strip, which also included two ice bars and a huge casino. This created a brighter and more modern feel than in Natales, however its a shame our hostel doesn’t quite replicate that and keep up with the trend. Nevertheless, we soon had the wifi, made ourselves at home and headed streaight back out into the town to consume some lunch and browse all of whatever Calafate had to offer.
After a poor showing from my chicken burger, and some essential time on the internet, we left for the hostel but were impeded by two merry ladies which happened to be Lian (eliots mum) and Vickie, accompanied by two beers. The lager lived up to the high standards of the Chilean Austral and set in motion a night of varying alcoholic intake.
The evening was spent at a lovely Argentine restaurant with Lean and Vickie, feasting on the traditional Patogian dish Pariyyada, and enjoying a few glasses of Chilean wine and ending with a proper Irish coffee. The conversation therefore inevetibly moved on to girls, and the two ‘mature’ adults on the table were pushing the three of us lads to go out and sample the Argentine nightlife. Two of us complied with the demands, and me and benj ended up at a bar that slightly reminded me of an english pub, with numerous ales on tap, bar stools and a grotty toilet to complete the image. Not being fans of ale, we stupidly chose the strongest they offered and were soon regretting that decision when the meat in our stomachs no longer wanted to be there. Cocktails were the answer to this, and after a couple very famine rounds we were eager to find a club.

We sought advice from many locals and decided there was only one option for a club and cautiously crept past the bouncers and headed straight for the bar. Initial views were very positive as the club had a DJ, extremely loud music and ridiculous lights, all the essential ingredients in a club back home. However, we soon realised there was no dance floor and strangely in its place were numerous tables. This left me very disappointed after looking forward to cutting some shapes for so long.

We attempted to wait it out, but by 3 o’clock the decision was made to head for home, marking the end of the new day, but in the same strange but utterly brilliant fashion.

Another animal shoutout goes to the armadillo, who surprised us all by parking himself right by the road and staying for a photo. There’s definitely something about the animals in this part of the world that makes them real divas when it comes to photos. Moreover his burrowing skills were demonstrated magnificently, enabling him to disappear from our sight in seconds. He was probably just showing off. Legend.

Daily routine – Day 12 (9th December)

I’m afraid to say today was another actionless day, leaving me to scramble around my poor memory for anything worth of writing about. I’m still trying.

I wouldn’t dare say it was a waste of a day, as the recouperation time it allowed for nursed us back to full fitness, both mentally and physically. It may sound like the three of us have lost all levels of stamina since leaving the U.K, however what you can’t begin to understand is the severity and toughness of the Chilean routine.

They get up at about 10, head out to work or school for around 11, come back for a nap at 3 and finish the evenings work for 8. It may sound like I’m taking the piss, but this all means the average dinner time in Natales is about 10 o’clock, pushing essential evening activities such as drinking further back than us young lads are used to. Fucked up is the only way to describe it. Great but really hard work.

However, its now clicked that the key to success in Patagonia is to never miss your afternoon nap, something that I have no problem with whatsoever, and this will allow us to party on into the morning and truly fit in with the residents of Chile.
Today though we resorted back to our roots and endulged ourselves in some light browsing, snacking and mooching and returned to the hostel with food, beers and a couple of knives to remember Natales by. Its a souvenir, honestly mum! And with that we tucked down for an early night, at 1 o’clock!
Shoutout to the legend that is our landlady/hostel owner/tiny Chilean lady who lives with us. Not only did she lie about speaking English and force me and Benj to try and speak spanish, panick and run away, purely to mug us off, but tonight she made a brief appearance in our room at 12 o’clock only to tell us she was going out to a party. This left us three 18/19 year old teenagers tucked up in bed, whilst the 50/60 year old woman tore up the nightlife of Natales. Huge respect.

Da Milodon – Day 11 (9th December)

Today was a tale of two halves; adventure and exploration partnered with laziness and… not much else to be honest.

The day startered bright and early and , although I didn’t mirror or appreciate this, we set off back into the countryside of Patagonia. The challenge for the day was not only to withstand the agony my ankle kindly provided, but explore the three caves of the legendary Mylodon, the extinct animal that the area so greatly treasures.

The first stop was the infamous Devils chair, and ironically it was me who was kean to scale the large rocks and pose for a selfie.
The first cave was the smallest, but turned out to be the best, as it allowed the three of us to release our inner child by playing a game of chicken. Who would be the first to turn their lights on in the 50m deep cave?. It was benj! Despite our best efforts our forward momentum was haunted by a dead end, so we retreated back and headed off towards to the last two caves.

They were both let downs, as the medium cave was in fact the smallest, and the big cave had been taken over by numerous tourists and a path that you were forbidden from leaving. Guess who went slight off piste? On the plus side the large cave featured a huge scale Mylodon that kindly posed for my daily instagram picture.

Upon returning to the hostel, we discovered the day hadn’t even passed lunch time, so we retreaved some cheap lunch and were soon crashed down on our beds for an involuntary power nap. This lasted for a few hours too many.

Unfortunately for us, the night remained young, which meant we needed more food and drink, so we found a nice hostel restaurant and had a lovely burger and jug of ale. We thought this signified the end of the night and a much needed sleep, but thanks to the resident drunk Aussie, we felt inclined to stay up. This lasted so long we required yet more fuel, and trekked down to a burger place to have some chips and watch the football. Despite our intentions, thanks to our fatigue we managed to order a huge plate of chicken and chips and another bev, making the daily budget firmly enter the negative.
Skip forward a few hours and I can finally write the blog of the day and reflect upon what was a very long, expensive but very enjoyable day. It made a very nice change from the short, boring days in Kingham which were spent earning money. I know which day I prefer.
Shoutout of the day has to be shared by two magnificent animals, The Mylodon and Doge (our favourite of the stray dogs around Natales). Both provided us with joy and happiness and some great pictures.

Chill day – Day 10 (7th December)

Its official, we have finally had the first day where we didn’t really do anything worth writing about.

Despite our youthfullness and enthusiasm our stamina had finally run dry and thankfull we could at last have a day of doing absolutely jack shit. We mooched around town, got some food had a beer and came home again. Our attempt at making spaghetti bolognese deserves a special mention, as despite our best efforts, we couldn’t prevent in from being a disaster in taste and appearance.

It was a crucial day of recovery, however although my summer may have included many days of doing fuck all, I’ve surprisingly become accustomed to being active again and I think we all went to bed hoping for minimal days like this one.

Shoutout of the day goes to the crazy drunk Aussie lodger staying at the hostel, who insisted on inadvertently demonstrating to the whole house that she is a crazy, lazy alcoholic who doesn’t like sticks. She certainly sorted out our evenings entertainment.

Let’s go exploring! Day 8 (5th December)

Many great explorers have scowered the Earth over the years; Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, Philias Fogg travelled the world in a matter of days, and we three lads conquered the Frances valley of Chile, exploring many waterfalls, steep rocky inclines and the disgusting hill that separated us from our ultimate destination. The food hall. Continue reading “Let’s go exploring! Day 8 (5th December)”

Is anyone else tired? Day 7 (4th December)

Today was a strange day. In comparison to yesterday i could only describe it as mediocre. However to label any day in this small piece of heaven as anything less than breathtaking would be a huge insult, as once again the long hard trek took us to outstanding view points and beautiful scenery that just do rob you of your breath, and not just metaphorically!

The walk today took us from base camp in Los Torres to another camp in Cuernos, circling the very blue lake of Nord… something or other. As always it was a mission, and having out backpacks on did little to help the pain and only resulted in an increased level of backsweat.

We soldiered on up and down the hills and the end result was smashing; a remote campsite right on the lake, with platforms for the tent and many fridges for the bevs. This allowed for a notable moment, led on a pontoon, catching some rays and sipping a beer. Heaven.

Dinner was abit of a let down as it included a slab of fish and not much else, but trekkers can’t be choosers as they say, so I wolfed it down in a matter of milliseconds. That was pretty much the end of the day, except a brief moment of socialising as we found peace on a makeshift bench outside the bar. 3 americans and a Brit from Reading, plus us three Cotswoldians made for a very entertaining group, and it ended a very tough day with a nice bit of banter. Decent day.

Shoutout of the day goes to the sun. The horrific but highly amusing sunburn provided hours of pain and banter, something I both hate and care for, that’s quite an impressive feat.

We have arrived! Day 5 (2nd December)

  1. Ultimately today was a fairly boring day, filled with travelling, listening to music and tindering (if that’s a word now). However, the highlight of the day came in the evening, where, after sharing a bev with some locals who were friends with el, we had a majestic meat feast of a dinner, accompanied by a bottle of wine and a brilliant waiter, who we now feel inclined to see again. Good business one feels, especially after the tip we gave him.

Continue reading “We have arrived! Day 5 (2nd December)”

The coming of the great explorers – day 4 (1st December)

  1. The day began with unusual optimimism and with that began a quest to find an elusive pool on top of a hill. However, with this being Santiago, a hot but mountainous city, pools and hills were scattered around everywhere. Let the challenge commence!

After eventually finding the desired spot, and ignoring many reviews insisting robbers and distance should prevent us from going, we began the long trek towards the mysterious destination.
Our egarnous to dive into a pool of chilled water (very hard to come by) propelled us forward and we made it to the bottom of the towering mountain within a matter of minutes and decided it was a good idea to walk up to the pool instead of taking the very comfortable looking cable cars. A decision we soon regretted when we realised quite how far 7k was. despite our impending doom, we soldiered on and after many map checks, water breaks and meltdowns, we made it to the lagoon of heaven. It may only be a simple outdoor pool to the locals of Santiago, but to us three knackered, sunburnt tourists the pool was a microcosm for all thats good in the world. and boy did we make the most of it… for about ten minutes. In typical British fashion we got way too hot, moaned about how cold the water was and inevitably headed back down the hill.

Although the day may have been a painful, tiring and pointless expedition, it really marked the start of our travels, and convinced us that if we really wanted to do something, we could do whatever we liked.

A strange shoutout goes to the Chilean board of parks and recreation, if that’s such a thing, or to whoever is responsible for putting numerous gyms in every park in sight. Not only did they get me to enter the realms of a gym, I was actually seen doing a kind of exercise and enjoying it, all at the same time. These people are things of legends.