New Places, New Faces – Day 91/92 – 1st/2nd March

The coming of the new month, and the day after, has brought about new places, and new horizons, as for the last 48 hours Los Tres Amigos have been on a bus to the city of Punta Arenas, a plane to the capital of the Lake District, Puerto Montt, and then a transport to the beautiful town of Puerto Vargas, where we have now settled and are now waiting to see what the world has to offer us in the coming weeks. This may sound all exciting and adventurous, but in truth Punta Arenas is just a big city with lots of restaurants, lots of supermarkets, and a square with lots of youths surrounding it and playing loud music out of a boom box. Furthermore, Puerto Montt is said to be a bit of shit hole, so we went straight to Puerto Varas, which is an absolutely incredible seaside town, but I think I’ll leave that descriptive material until tomorrow. However, this means I need a topic to please you demanding readers, but I think I know the perfect thing to write about, which I hope will to only entrainment my audience, but also give me some closure of the loss of our home in Patagonia. I’m trying to weep, honestly.

I believe the main reason for the blossoming love affair between Los Tres Amigos and Patagonia wasn’t because of the incredible scenery, the incredible array of activities on offer, or even the highest quality of box wine one can find anywhere in the world, but was in fact due to the vast selection of amazing people we have met, befriended, and sometimes even shared a mate or two. It hasn’t just been the natives either, Puerto Natale and the surrounding areas just seems to have a remarkable effect on the human brain, which results in making everyone that resides in it become unbelievably generous and hospitable. I really hope some of it has rubbed off on me. Anyway, for this reason, I feel it is fitting that I celebrate the huge impact these people have had on our lives for the last three months, and thank them for their services to the gap year.

In no particular order, I would like to start with the hospitality award, and in particlular the team Erratic Rock, where we spent numerous days sleeping, smelling and washing and then smelling again, but at no point did Bill, Rustyn, or anyone else that worked so superbly, treat us any differently, and they perfectly fitted the model of a warm, welcoming and chilled out place for us to go and recouperate after one our many adventures. A special mention also has to go to Shikana, who ran the perfect little establishment, named after the great man himself, which provided us with a refuge to go when the stench was too bad to bestow on the kind but rather soft Americans at Erratic Rock, and our social skills weren’t in the kind of working order necessary to fit in other hostels. Shikana made a great breakfast, usually just for us and his family, shared his mate and the wise tips he had to go with it, and even managed to remember who me and Benj were by the fourth time of staying there, and he did all this from the extreme discomfort of a sleeping bag on the bottom bunk under one of us. He was also the gentlest of gentlemen.

The next shoutout goes the Kevin, Ian and their squad of gauchos, volunteers, and everyone else involved in the six weeks we were working for the King and Prince of Patagonia. Of course the highest honour has to go to Kevin and Ian for choreographing an incredible work placement at three of the most amazing places one can find in Patagonia, and doing the coolest jobs a teenager could ever have. Yes the hole and the fences weren’t the most of enjoyable tasks, but I put them down to character building, and in the grand scheme of the work we did when mastering thousands of sheep, guarding the same beings from poachers and pumas from the base of a caravan, and driving along the fjords in a dying truck, a little bit of digging and hammering really doesn’t seem bad at all. However, it wasn’t just Kevin and Ian we owe a huge thanks too for making the experience so unforgettable, and in fact there is a long list of names I will never forget. As as you would expect, Lucho is right at the top of the list, as three men and a guacho can’t live with eachother for ten days and drink mate until the sun goes down, and not create an unbreakable bond, and we have the same admiration for Ramirez at La Peninsula. Rodrigo also has a special place in our memories, with his soft voice, note pad, and gillet all creating a lasting image of the top bloke that brought us our supplies and taxied us around. I could speak all day about each and every person we met in the six weeks, but I don’t happen to have all day, but Marco, Huesito, Chef, the students, Kevin’s mum, Pepe and the carpenters, and even more deserve huge gratitude for making us so welcome everywhere we ended up, and making our voluntary work so incredible.

This next paragraph is a bit of a random one, as it gives recognition to the ‘random’ people in Patagonia that have aided in making the first six months of our travels as good as it was. The guides that we have met on our adventures have all been amazing. Vicente on our mind blowing Christmas Day ride up to Cerro Gido, was an absolute hero with the lamb on his lap and condor feathers on his saddle, as were the two kayakers Jeremy and Gabo who made one of the most exciting activities in Patagonia, even more special and highly entertaining. Vickie takes the credit for the Death ride at Christmas, and also for taking us on the unplanned safari through the pampas of Chile and Argentina, and delivering us safely to Calafate with a guanaco skull still intact. We have also met lots of people on the way; Maddie and Mattheo at Shikana (very surprising) who partook in one of the better nights out we had in Patagonia, the Chilean students at La Peninsula that forced me to stay up way too late against my will, but did provide us with good company when the carpenters and Chef left us to fend for ourselves, and of course the four Americans we met in Calafate that somehow managed to make the diar and depressing hostel and a rather fun experience. There is also a few people that I would like to mention that I don’t actually know the name of, as they incedently played a key role in making Patagonia the brilliant home it was. The women at La Milodon laundrettes for example, became a very familiar face in our Natales routines, and supplied us with perfect washing every time, and for the price of a beer. The lovely lady at the Almacen opposite Bluegreen that me and Benj took a liking to will also have a place in my heart forever, as she supplied us with alcohol, chocolate, and not much else, but she did it in such an indescribably lovely way, which seemed typical of everyone in Patagonia that welcomed us in to their place of work or living, and treated us as though we were family.

This leads me on perfectly to the last, but biggest award of the evening, which is dedicated to the incredible family that we were made a part of at the Bluegreen office and the home of Claudia, Panchi, Amelia, and for the time we were there, Lian. Eliots mum deserves a special mention of her own for her unbelievable generosity to the three of us, and me and Benj in particular who to a normal person, are just two amigos of her son, but to she treated us like one of her own, and became Los Tres Amigos’ travelling mother, but also earned the position of the fourth amigo. As for the others, we all owe them more thanks than I think I am capable of in one blog, as ever since that first evening that we nervously knocked on their door back in December, they have welcomed us into their living quarters without invitation, and let us use steal their wifi, hot water and beer. Their cooking was incredible, their music was spot on, and their entertainment was quality, and they will always be our Patagonian family.

The majority of the people I’ve mentioned won’t read this, but I want to thank each and every person I’ve talked about, as without them, the first half of our trip in Patagonia wouldn’t have been anything like it was, and anything as amazing as it was. Praise the lord we found them in the wilderness that is Patagonia.

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