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New Year at the end of the world

Forgive me for I have sinned

overcast 12 °C

Happy New Year! I hope you are all not suffering a hangover like mine. The thing is Ushuaia was incredibly tame for new years. I think the lack of entertainment and dancing actually resulted in more drinking and mixing of drinks eventually leading to a massive headache. But anyway enough about today...let me give you an update on the past couple of weeks.

Firstly friends forgive me for my sins...I have not blogged for nearly a month. Apologies for not keeping you all in the loop. My excuse...the lack of internet connection in Patagonia and the speed at which the internet, when connected, works – we’re talking Cliffy Young! But alas I now have a speedy connection.

So now the last 3 weeks..... I’ll keep it to highlights, otherwise you’ll be reading this all day (I hope you'll be able to pick out the extra secial ones out of these hung-over ramblings of mine).

Pucon was a disaster, no volcano climb due to weather, disgruntled pax (passengers), a visit to the best hot springs that I think I’ve been to in South America, dinner at midnight due to truck breakdown and having a homesick moment while doing the dishes by myself at 1.30 in the morning .

Bariloche thankfully was much better. Camping on the lake, a great BBQ that I did not have to do anything for except remind the cooks 2 minutes before we were about to eat, that the Chorizos had not gone on yet...and they think the Guide does nothing. I spent one of these days horse riding through the Patagonian countryside. FYI, this was my second time on a horse and I’ve now decided that trotting is not at all comfortable however getting up to a canter is much easier and gets the adrenalin pumping enough for me to feel exhilarated without being petrified.

From Bariloche we drove through some beautiful countryside to a campsite in Frutillar. What a crazy impromptu night that was! Another BBQ, a beautiful sunset view of a volcano, 2 pax (husband and wife) getting drunk, having a fight and one running away at midnight. Of course this was all relayed to me when the pax that were still awake jumped on the truck and woke me up to tell me that we needed to find him otherwise he was going to die of hyperthermia....my response....he’s from Adelaide, he’ll be back in a little while. The next morning revealed that the campsite manager had driven the wife around town for 30 minutes trying to find him only to get back and find he had crawled in to someone else’s tent to sleep.

Ahhh the memories I will have of overlanding.

The Navimag was next. This time around we left from Puerto Montt. A massive port town that has increased its population three fold in the past 10 years. I did pick up some beautiful scarfs for U$4 each. The Navimag was much busier than last time with about 160pax (was only 80 odd last time). The same routine ensued: sleeping, eating, drinking, reading (The Book Thief..a great book) and working. The standout was the party/ bingo night. I ended the night with the nickname ‘snake hips’ due to my abilities on the dance floor (heads up for those reading this that have a decent set of hips on you...latin american men dig the hip shaking). I now know how to salsa better than before due to the kindness of a Chilean. Ahh ..the memories.

Torres Del Paine was next; one of my favourite places in South America. Some memories from this time around (in no particular order);
• Having more than 8 condors riding the thermals above the truck at distances between 20 and 200 metres away (look out for the photos coming your way soon). Not even Col who has been driving over here for 2 years and is a bird freak, has seen that many together and that close to the truck before.
• Listening to 80km/h winds buffet the truck in the middle of the night and wondering how the pax where coping in their tents.
• Going for a drink at the Explorer Hotel (it’s always a highlight).
• Yelling at a pax on Christmas Eve after he told me he hadn’t had enough food and felt like he was in a concentration camp even though he was supposed to be doing the W walk and therefore had not been catered for with camp food. There’s only so much you can do with tinned food.
• Subsequently sitting on a hill top in winds about 50km/h having tears ripped from my face as fast as I could shed them. Those of you who know me well enough, know that when I get angry I cry and then feel crap about the fact that my emotions get the better of me. At least it was cathartic.
• Having our guide, Sebastian, wheel a whole lamb towards us on Christmas Eve (it was in a wheel barrow and not brought in on a lead which would not have surprised me). The lamb was so fresh that there was still some poo pellets in the bag that it came in.
• Eating before mentioned lamb until we were all stuffed to the gills. Does anyone have any idea how much meat is on a lamb? Let me tell you even the guy who was complaining about not having enough food, had to eat his words after this.

El Chalten was next. A question for you all: have you seen what Jacob looks like with his shirt off in the ‘New Moon’ movie? The abs???? I got to see abs better on a Brazilian rock climber . I know ....too much information for mum and dad, but some things just need to be shared. For those who have never been to a town that is known as a mecca for rock climbers, there are at least 5 men for every woman. In this case El Chalten was not a favourite of the boys on the trip who wanted to pick up.

El Calafate was the same as usual but this time around I got to see the local hospital. Previously mentioned pax who had felt deprived of food fell out of the truck when at a photo stop, severely cutting his hand. Luckily we have two doctors on board who cleaned it up on the road but it needed stiches so off we went to the hospital.

So this leads us to Ushuaia and Los Comaranes hostel where I am currently sitting.

From here we head north to Buenos Aries and warmer weather (thank God). 4 really long drive days with a rest at Puerto Madryn on the way. The memories of Puerto Madryn will surely come back thick and fast once I am there (involuntary shudder now occurring).

I hope you all have had memorable Christmas’ and New Years and that 2010 brings with it all that you make happen.

Posted by Renae Jane 16:14 Archived in Chile Tagged living_abroad

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I carried a watermelon! Or dropped it! I would suggest skipping the watermelon's for puerto madryn - ahhh the memories indeed.

by Kirsty Gibb

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