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  • Day41

    We decided to stay a couple extra nights in Santiago mainly due to the rain stopping us from doing a couple of the things we wanted to do. One of those things was a day trip to Valparaiso (or Valpo as the locals call it), a town which was around two hours by coach and had another free walking tour. It's often nice to do the earlier tour to give you ideas on things to do so we aimed to hit the 10am tour.

    We set our alarms super early and crept out as quietly as we could, hitting breakfast shortly after it opened (7am) and were on our way via the subway to the bus station. We bought our tickets and boarded the bus leaving at 8.05 which in theory (the bus taking 1hr 30) should have given us plenty of time. If there's one thing you should NEVER take as golden it's bus duration!! We're not entirely sure why the bus took so long as we were both snoring shortly after departure but when we woke up pulling into the station it was 9.57am. Now if previous tours and GPS were anything to go by this tour wouldn't start until at least 10.10am and it was not going to take 34 minutes to walk there. So we did what any other ambitious Brits would do and headed for the meeting point.

    As we got closer to the centre we could hear a racket echoing through the streets. This racket turned out to be hundreds of school kids in various marching bands, marching through the streets. Because of this various roads were closed to cars so trying to dodge the crowds of parents following their less than talented kids meant we inevitably missed the 10am tour. We later learnt that they were practicing for a big celebration which involved the Navy the following weekend. Valpo has a large port so this is apparently a pretty big deal!

    As the walking tour was going to line up the activities for the rest of the day I hadn't really bothered to research anything else to do around Valpo so Blake suggested we do what any good tourist should do and headed to the nearest Starbucks for coffee and wifi. The coffee you get for breakfast in the hostels is pretty terrible so having a Starbucks was a rare treat!! Unfortunately the Starbucks was in a square which was the central meeting point for these marching bands. They entered on one side, did a few laps then left on the opposite side. Luckily by that point it was the adults walking through so at least everything was in time but still enough to give you a headache.

    We had our coffee and logged onto the wifi and decided we'd walk up into the hillside and explore the colourful town that was Valparaiso. Almost every other building has a mural of some sort painted on it and those buildings that didn't were often painted a bright colour. We slowly headed towards a look out nearer the top of the hill which gave us an incredible view. A little further on and we arrived at Pablo Neruda's Valpo house (the poet who's house we looked around in Santiago). On the way back down the hill we decided to stop on a little square to make some sandwiches. Cream cheese in brown rolls topped up with spicy beef crisps were today's filling of choice!

    After a slow walk down the hill it was almost time to join the tour so we just waited around by the meeting point. The marching bands were still playing at this point, 5 hours after we arrived! Our tour guide Jorge arrived and took us up again into the hillside, this time venturing to the opposite side with more viewpoints and murals. At the beginning of the tour we got to a point where there was a giant slide / slider for the Bristolians. We joked saying we wanted to go down it but then it actually became part of the tour and the whole group went down. The bottom of the slide was in a small square where 4 or more dogs recognised our guide. I think Jorge was the pied piper of dogs as these four legged friends stayed with us for the whole 4 hour tour.

    When passing some of the murals we learnt that there were 3 occasions when one could be painted. The first being your house, your walls. The second for buildings not belonging to you, then permission from the owner was needed. And the third was for city owned buildings, for these you needed to submit a sketch along with a proposal explaining the story behind it. Because of this, many of the murals tell stories of Chilean history and its people. There was a fourth, but this involved the middle of the night with dark clothes and a pair of good shoes in case you have to run!

    Towards the end of the tour we stopped at an empanada shop. These from what were described were no normal empanadas either. We had a menu of 80 fillings to choose from and each was individually handmade to order before being deep fried (normal ones are baked like pasties). They were DELICIOUS!! I went for chorizo, onion, tomato and cheese and Blake opted for cheese, spinach, nuts and cream.

    After the tour finished we were all walked out so we headed back to the bus station and made our way back to the hostel for some well needed feet up time! I can tell you that the marching bands were also still going at this point.
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  • Day44

    Now we never expected 24 hours on a bus to be fun and I can assure you it wasn't! Turbus, the company we travelled with do not treat you as well as we have recently become accustomed too. They had run out of the reclined seats so we had to go for semi reclined which wasn't the end of the world however there isn't a lot of space between you and the seat in front of you so it was a little bit claustrophobic! Especially as you have to keep your bag and things under your feet for fear of being robbed which doesn't help with the space problem.

    I can't say you don't get fed as that wouldn't be true but you don't get much at all. Around 11:30am we were given a small carton of juice and a biscuit. We didn't get fed again until 9:30pm when they gave us another small carton of juice and a ham and cheese sandwich! Luckily we had planned for such eventualities and had been rationing our supplies throughout the journey. They do however stop occasionally and let some random get on the bus with cakes, sandwiches or other random items for sale.

    Around 10pm, the bus driver came onto the bus and said something in Spanish. Pretty much everyone got up and got off the bus. We were at a bus station though so just figured that this was their stop until we looked around and realised that only the English speaking travellers were left on the bus. It was at that moment we realised that we had missed something important. Shortly after, the driver got back on and said in perfect English and in the style of Arnie 'get off the bus'. Stupid gringos! Turns out they needed to refuel so we had to get off.

    We eventually made it to San Pedro around 10am the following day. The views towards the end of the journey were incredible but it made you realise we are literally in the middle of the desert in the arse end of nowhere. The bus station is just a shelter with a few seats in and everywhere seems so baron I half expected to see some tumbleweed rolling down the street.

    We somehow managed to walk straight past our hostel so it took us a lot longer than it should have done to get there! As it was early, we weren't able to check in yet so we wandered across to the main street in search of some food and civilisation.

    After a hearty breakfast and some crappy Nescafé coffee we headed back to or hostel to check in. We are staying in a 4 bed dorm which is nice as they are all single beds and is so much better than sleeping in a bunk bed!

    We found another free walking tour on the history of San Pedro so did that in the afternoon. A couple of interesting facts for you all:

    All of the houses in San Pedro are made from adobe.

    Dancing is prohibited and pubs / restaurants can get fined if the police catch people dancing in them - crazy!
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  • Day45

    We awoke to the bluest sky I think we have ever seen. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky.

    For breakfast the lady that owns the hostel made us fresh scrambled eggs which were delicious. We absolutely love this hostel (Casa de Mathilde). It's really chilled and our roommates have been great.

    After breakfast we set off on a 3km walk to Pukará de Quito, the ruins of a 12th century fort. Pretty much the whole way there we were accompanied by 2 dogs which were very sweet. When we arrived we hiked to the top and you could see down over San Pedro which was great. It also once again reinforced how small this place is. On our way back, we stopped in the main street and mooched around the shops.

    Despite its size, San Pedro is full of tour companies. It makes choosing a company to do your tours with extremely difficult. We have decided to do the Salt Flats tour from here and then finish in Uyuni, Bolivia. It's a little more expensive than booking it in Uyuni but if you factor in the bus that you would have to get to Uyuni anyway it works out pretty much the same. Simons good friend David who has been amazing at giving us tips as him and his girlfriend Julia have done pretty much the same trip but 3 months ahead of us, also warned us that the bus journey was horrible and that he had to pee so bad he nearly peed on himself as they hardly let you off the bus. Needless to say we didn't really fancy that so after some trip advisor research we settled on Lithium and booked all of our tours with them.

    Craving some home comforts, we attempted to make baked beans and mash for dinner. We were shocked when what we created was actually edible and resembled baked beans. Simon also found giant chicken nuggets in one of the mini-markets. I think the other British people in the hostel were secretly jealous of our 6 year olds dinner!
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  • Day42

    It was our last day in Santiago and the weather was a bit pants so we decided to have a lazy day. Simon wanted to try and find a new blade for his razor as he managed to break it the second time he used it, so we headed over to the mall. It was however a very unsuccessful trip and we returned empty handed. Simon is going to attempt to find a barbers in San Pedro but failing that he will be going for the traditional traveller look!

    After the mall we grabbed some bits for lunch as well as some supplies for our 24 hour bus journey and then pottered around the hostel.

    Around 4pm the rain stopped and the sun came out so we ventured out to the Bellavista neighbourhood to Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill). At the top there is a 22m statue of the Virgin Mary but what you really go up there for is the view out over the city. We had been warned by various people that it wasn't really worth it if the weather is bad as you won't be able to see anything. But despite the usual fog that covers Santiago, the sky was relatively clear so we figured it was worth a shot. For just over £3 each you can get the funicular up and back which we opted for over the 45 minute walk (I think Simon's words were 'I'm not going if you make me walk up'. It is also quite fun to get the funicular.

    It turns out that we timed our visit perfectly. By the time we got up there the sun was setting and we had the most incredible views out over Santiago and the mountains.

    We are both big fans of Santiago!
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  • Day45

    11/06/17-13/06/17 San Pedro De Atacama

    We got the bus at 4:30am from Uyuni to San Pedro De Atacama. This was an experience. Bolivian buses weren't quite as luxurious as the Peruvian ones that we were used to.

    Despite the early start, one local lady on the bus seemed wide awake and sang along out loud to a karaoke app on her phone. It wouldn't have been so bad if she had actually had a good voice. There were also a large number of children on the bus. The company overbooked and some people ended up standing in the aisles for the duration of the journey. Luckily we had seats!

    Crossing the border from Bolivia to Chile wasn't quite as straightforward as it had been crossing from Peru to Bolivia. The whole process took nearly two hours, and at one point involved us all sat against a wall with our bags lined up in front of us for a dog to be paraded up and down. Unfortunately for the security guards the dog seemed much more interested in what was going on around him and so took multiple attempts. We are not convinced the dog was actually trained in anything, and was purely there just for show.

    The security staff were friendly though, and let Tom pass through with his contraband (a cheese sandwich for lunch) after he declared it.

    Eventually, after thirteen hours, we reached San Pedro De Atacama. We decided to treat our time here as a holiday within our holiday, and be a bit more chilled than we have been. We also decided to stay somewhere a bit nicer than we have been, and stayed in a lovely hotel just outside the town centre, which had a heater in our room (which was very exciting).
    Unfortunately we were told we would not be able to visit some of the tourist sites, such as the geysers and the lagoons due to the snow. The snow seems to have caused havoc in this area, and we were told it's unusual for time of year. It hasn't snowed locally for three years. It's reassuring to see the UK isn't the only country to shut down with a bit of snow.

    On our first night we went for dinner with our friends, Max and Lisa and Janice. The food was great compared to Bolivian standards and we enjoyed the Chilean wine!

    We had the first lie in for a long time the following day, and had a lazy morning, only going into town to book a tour for that afternoon. We visited Le Valle De Luna, so called as it resembles the surface of the moon. The landscape was a mix of rocks, salt and sand dunes, which was a beautiful combination. We did a bit of a walk up to the top of a sand dune and enjoyed the view of the surrounding Andes and volcanoes. After this we watched the sunset before having our last dinner with Max and Lisa before going our separate ways.

    At 11pm we went to a star gazing session with a local astronomer. San Pedro is famous for its astronomy and people come here especially for it. Due to the lack of light pollution and low humidity it is a great place to see the stars.

    Our guide started by showing us some of the consolations with the naked eye, and pointed out some planets which to us looked like stars. We then got the opportunity to look through his telescope at the planets, and were able to see the rings on Saturn and some storms that caused dark moving stripes on the surface of Jupiter. We could even see three moons orbiting Jupiter. When we looked at the moon through his telescope we were able to see craters, and he let us take photographs.
    It was a very interesting evening and we both enjoyed it. It was so different to anything else we had done.

    The following morning we hired some bikes from our hotel and cycled to some ruins nearby, before having to return to catch a flight to Santiago, the capital of Chile.
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  • Day48

    13/06/17-16/03/17 Santiago

    We flew from San Pedro to Santiago, the capital of Chile, where we started by enjoying a nice Steak at “The Fat Cow” restaurant.

    The following day we took a bus to the town Valparaiso. This was the main port used in South America prior to the Panama Canal being built. It is still a busy port town today, and stood by the shore surrounded by shipping containers we felt as though we could be back home in Southampton.

    Valparaiso is also famous for being a colourful town. The houses are all built into the hills and painted bright colours. Street art covers every possible surface available. We spent the day walking around viewing the art and taking cable cars up the hill at various points to admire the views.

    On our second day in Santiago, we went to the ski resort of La Parva to enjoy a day on the slopes. Unfortunately due to high winds, a lot of the lifts were shut. However the resort was fairly empty, which meant that we were able to do the runs that were open plenty of times without queuing for lifts. All of the running lifts were drag lifts, which meant that by the end of the day we could really feel our legs! It was a great days skiing though and I have developed a new found appreciation for people who wear hired boots!!

    We were due to leave Santiago for Mendoza the next day. We got up bright and early to heavy rain and were at the bus station by 7am to get our bus, only to find our bus was cancelled. The border was closed between Chile and Argentina due to heavy snow. Not ideal. After an hour and a half in an internet Café we changed our plan entirely and had booked flights the following day down to Patagonia. Fortunately for us we hadn’t booked too much in advance and got a full refund on our bus so haven't lost out too much.

    With an extra day in Santiago to play with, we hid in a Café from the rain to come up with a plan of action. We started by visiting the home of Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet and Nobel prize winner. His home had been turned into a museum. It was the house he built for his secret lover Mathilde, before leaving his wife and moving in with her. The house was built into the side of a mountain and was full of lots of impressive artwork and various items collected on his travels. The house was very quirky and felt like something from grand designs.

    When we left the rain had settled, so we got the funicular to the top of the highest Hill overlooking the city. We decided to go for a walk afterwards, but in what seems to be a recurring theme of this trip, took the wrong walking path. This one was more of a mud slide than a path and we both finished up covered from head to toe in mud after sliding down most of it. So much for a gentle walk through the park.

    As we finished the heavens opened again and so we took shelter in the shopping centre, which was the biggest either of us had seen. We contemplated going up the “tallest tower in South America” inside the centre, however when we were told there was no bar at the top, just a view, we decided against it. Plus the hill we had been on earlier that day had looked down on the tower, so we figured we had already seen the view for free.

    We finished up our day by having a burger in a good old American diner, before turning up slightly wet and muddy at the airport hotel. I'm not sure they were too pleased!
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  • Day54

    17/06/17-22/06/17 Patagonia (Chile)

    Whilst everyone in England has been enjoying a heat wave, we have been enjoying the opposite extreme in Patagonia.

    We flew from Santiago to Punta Arenes, where the air hostess informed us that temperatures outside were a balmy -4 degrees Celsius. Punta Arenes is the furthest south either of us have ever been. From here, we took a bus to Puerto Natales, a small town where, if it hadn't been for all the snow, we felt as if we could be in an old Western film.

    We spent the night there, before hiring a car and driving to the National Park, Torres del Paine. On the morning of leaving, we thought we would make the most of the day and leave nice and early. We told our hostel we would want breakfast at 7am. When our alarms went off in the morning it was pitch black but we could hear the lady running our hostel clattering around getting breakfast ready. It was only then we decided to check when sunrise was.... 10am. We felt bad so got up and had breakfast before going back to bed for two hours so that we could leave in day light. She must have thought we were crazy!

    The park covers 1810 square km, and has some spectacular scenery and impressive animals. On our first drive through the park to our hotel, we spotted many guanaco (cross between a deer and llama) that would leap across the road unexpectedly, birds of prey – including a condor carrying the remains of a poor animal and an owl hunting, nandus (ostrich like birds) and most excitingly a puma! If it hadn't been for a tour bus stopped in the middle of the road with tourists taking photos of it, we think we would have missed it. Unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to take a good picture as it stalked it's way out of site too quickly.

    We were told that we were lucky to see it by the hotel owner, apparently it's quite rare! Our hotel was in a stunning location, situated on an island on Lake Pehoe. We had to cross a footbridge to reach it. The island was surrounded by mountains, and we were lucky to have a mountain view from our room.

    We spent three days doing walks around the park and enjoying the amazing scenery which consisted of snow capped mountains, waterfalls and turquoise lakes. It was very picturesque. Due to it being winter, there were few other tourists, and so we were able to enjoy everything without large crowds. It was truly stunning. Tom made it his mission to see another puma, until we spotted a puma print in the snow whilst out walking on our last day. We reacted by panicking and running home.... In hindsight we have found out that that is not the way to react if met with a puma. You should instead make yourself as big as possible, by raising your hands above your head, and never turning your back to them. At least we now know what to do if we ever see a puma lurking in the streets of Southampton.

    We returned to Puerto Natales, and were greeted by two forms of bad news. Firstly, our pre booked Hostel had cancelled our booking due to “maintenance issues” (we think it's because of the early breakfast thing) and secondly the buses to El Calafate, our next destination, had been cancelled until the weekend. We looked at various options available, and considered staying until the weekend, but with little else happening in the area felt that it was a waste of our time.

    Fortunately for us, the man we rented a car from took pity on us and offered to drive us there for a reasonable fee, which meant we were able to keep to schedule and finally cross the border into Argentina.
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  • Day239

    Moon walking and desert biking.

    It doesn't take a linguist or even a third form latin class to translate this one. Nor does it take a genius to figure out what wonders the Valley of the Moon might have in store.

    We chose to attack this lunar landscape by bike and at a meagre 3500 pesos ($7) for a half day, it definitely was one of the cheaper activities on offer. Armed with spare tyres, pumps, locks and headlamps (definitely the most comprehensive rental bike kit I've ever been supplied with) we hit the road. Actually, we almost hit the kerb, then a wall and narrowly missed an unsuspecting pedestrian as the rocky road and a general lack of practice turned our departure into somewhat of a scene. Crossing a river with this skill set was a recipe for wet feet and that's exactly what Cat got. I bounced through only narrowly missing the same demise and still accept no responsibilty for her misfortune. It was the shortest route. I'm sure.

    Our first stop was an old fort which offered good views of San Pedro. It had historical significance as the stronghold of the region and had hosted many conflicts between various indigenous tribes, the Inca and the Spanish. What it didn't host was legible english or much intrigue so it was a brief stop at that.

    Onward to the moon we went, struggling to keep pace with the awesome distractions on offer. Unique and vast desert landscapes littered our route and it took us some time to cover a measly 20km (especially at some 3000m). The last 5 km to the caves was gravel and the old pelvic bones took a beating (despite again recieving some reasonable quality bikes). Whinging about the heat proved nothing but ironic, given the fact that it was a) winter and b) freezing for the other 18 hours of the day. Yet that didn't stop us. The caves were nothing to rave about so we remounted and continued up a steep and sandy road. For once (and I have to make a point of it) Cat did more complaining than I. Hot, tired and battling a very steep and sandy road brought out the worst in her of which I recorded with stills. Lucky for all of us that I have spared the audio. No doubt that in writing this I've put my foot in it and will have all my future tantrums subject to recording. So be it.

    It was the top of that hill (or shortly after - as I will surely be corrected) that the real moonscapes came to life. The rock formations were unique and the sand dunes pristine. It took a short walk up to the mirador for the real awe to set in. Fractured rock faces, wind sculpted rock towers and a dusting of salt made the foreground. In the middle was more unusual geology extending into vast desert. At the very back was an almost endless view of the Cordillera de los Andes; 20+ visible snow capped peaks. It wouldn't even take a soft spot for rocks to get you worked up about this. Then there was the sun and the sky which, by now were setting and turning pink, respectively. You committed readers will have read some pretty colourful descriptions of our top sunsets but this, I think (or at least at the time) was the best of the best.

    And then the cold hit. It's easy to forget the sun is the sole source of heat in this frigid climate. When it goes, the temperature plummets almost instantly. I mean plummets. In the space of 10 or 15 minutes it dropped (and I'm guessing) from a 'feels like' 20°C to 5°C. I went from shorts and a jumper to jacket, gloves and beanie and was still freezing. Cat, as you would expect, disappeared under layers like a fox down a rabbit hole.

    We descended in the dark and gingerly remounted our bikes, under escort from the rangers as the last ones out of the park. It was dark. Blackout dark, except for the increasingly numerous stars. Riding a sandy and gravel road with a head torch no brighter than a wet match proved difficult. In fact, I think our downhill pace matched that of the uphill - caution indeed, the operative word.

    Caution saw us taking an eternity to return to San Pedro. If cold and cranky is a thing, we were headed that way - held back only by how good the sunset had been. A very bland pasta and tomato was dinner that night and tea and chocolate in bed was the ending we couldn't have bettered. Next time I think motorised transport will win, but what fun is having fun if you're always having fun?
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  • Day47

    Breakfast today did not involve pancakes. It did involve some delicious homemade carrot cake but it was only that and cereal on offer. I definitely didn't get my usual breakfast fill this morning!

    Tomorrow we head out on a 3 day / 2 night Salt Flat Tour which will ultimately take us to Uyuni, Bolivia. The tour operator gave us a list of things that we needed to bring with us so as our Valle de la Luna tour wasn't until 3pm, we went shopping.

    Our list included:

    - Toilet paper (for wild wees)
    - Snacks (always very important)
    - 6L water
    - Some Bolivianos for entry to the parks and hot showers (yes you have to pay extra for that)
    - Props for perspective shots on the Salt Flats
    - A very special sun hat for Simon

    We were very sad to discover that the giant empanada shop was closed today so we had to purchase our daily empanada from somewhere else and it was very disappointing and tiny. So much so that Simon had to go back and buy a second one, whilst I opted for some ice cream.

    At 3pm, we headed off on our Valle de la Luna tour which means Valley of the Moon. Surprisingly enough it gets its name as it looks very similar to the surface of the moon.

    Our first stop was called Cavernas de sal and involved crawling through the rock (literally crawling at some points using the light on our phones to see where we were going) to learn about the rock and how it changes when it's exposed to the elements. There was a lot of salt in the cave.

    Our second stop was the Tres Marias (Three Mary's). As I am kindly demonstrating for you in the photo, you can see how they get there name. You may notice that there are now only 2 Marias as the first Maria had a tragic accident 7 years ago.

    Our third stop was called Mirador de Cari and involved some serious climbing up on to a ridge where you can see over the valley and the Andes mountains. The climb down was a little bit hairy!

    Once we got back down it wasn't long until the sun would be setting so we headed off to a spot just outside the park where we could watch the sunset and get a nice view over the whole valley. We were hoping to get a cool go pro shot of the sun going down but the sun went down so unbelievably quickly that we didn't even get chance to get the go pro out of the bag!
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  • Day234

    And we thought last week was tough.

    Taking the reigns of a high end lodge didn't seem like an unreasonable request when Will suggested it. It seemed like an apt challenge. A step up from our mundane tasks and a chance to see if we had what it takes. We accepted - with a little viticultural and financial incentive - and stepped up to run the place for the week with an eternally growing list of jobs, errands, maintenance, guests and ultimately working hours. Six hour days were to be a thing of the past. No surprises there!

    I spent most of my Monday dropping the family at Santiago airport. The two hour drive was nothing short of baffling beauty. Watching the sun rise over the Andes and punch through the lofty clouds with morning fog below is a scene I won't be forgetting anytime soon. (In fact, the end-of-the-week trip back was even more impressive; unlimited visibility with an afternoon sun turning the endless mountain range a light orange on a blue backdrop. Insane! Too bad I don't have photos as I was being a safe, responsible and efficient driver.) After a little detour (for lack of any maps - actually signage here is very good) I found the supermarket and spent a good few hours shopping for groceries for the week from Cat's neatly prepared list. A list for a menu that would be chopped and changed with every lacking ingredient. I only got laughed at twice by the same butcher for failing to identify meat cuts and then stumbling over the rest of the verbal exchange. You think I would have learnt Spanish by now.

    I returned to panic in the kitchen. Our daily cooking requirements were lunch and dinner (Yanet took care of breakfast). Sounds easy enough, right? Well it does. But it's not, ask Cat. Dinner was starter, main and dessert, and lunch had to be packaged up for reheating the next day. It had to be ready within 10 minutes of the guests returning, a time which varied almost daily. We were in a kitchen we didn't know with an oven that fluctuates temperature more than a fever and a stove that only goes piping hot or even hotter. All our ingredients were labelled in Spanish or unlabelled, as were the cooking instructions and occasional cookbooks. We weren't allowed any repetition or leftovers and the food had to be good quality and well presented. The nearest supermarket was a half hour drive and the nearest fruit and veg was 20 minutes. Ah and just to top it off, the internet was too slow to load recipes. I think we found that stress we needed reminding of!

    Threatening to buckle under pressure Cat pulled through and delivered some great dishes. Curries, beef bourginonne, roasts, stuffed chicken, pan fried fish, Moroccan stew, delicious soups, omelettes, prawns, and a variety of salads were all part of her menu, catering for anywhere between two to five guests. She came through on dessert too with sticky banana slice, chocolate brownie, lemon cake, pancakes and a ready made apple stroodle. Cheat. Although I'll be happy to take a small share of credit for a few of the aforementioned dishes. And the expert spooning of icecream - you don't need a summer job to learn that one!

    But that was just the kitchen. With Yanet taking care of the bedrooms, washing and cleaning our daily responsibilities grew to include the following: cooking, setting the table, serving, washing up, keeping up to five log fires going (including stocking firewood, lighting fires and clearing ash), feeding the horses and dogs and walking the dogs, grocery shopping/stocks, day and evening lighting, heating and music, sweeping, raking and pruning, looking after the pool and spa (the spa pool took two days of blazing log fire to get from frozen solid to hot), teaching spanish (or drinking tea - the two are indistinguishable), as well as a myriad of other time consuming chores before we even got started on looking after ourselves and our cabin. And that was just the daily routine.

    To make sure our backs and souls were well and truely broken, we had various projects around the lodge. I had the outdoors: doing firewood runs, clearing the horse paddock of rocks and weeds, piling up horse dung (to fertilise the vineyard), tidying up the barn, gardening and the like. Hard yakka as Dr Jenks would call it. Cat had the more mentally challenging job of computing. Perhaps more accurately, fixing the computer. In a freezing study she spent many hours waiting on the internet; syncing accounts, making mailing lists, designing email flyers (first wine being bottled shortly - exciting news!), insta and facebooks posts (#tumananlodge) and I suppose all other things computer that have become increasingly distant over the last few months.

    You must know by now that I like a good whinge but to tell you the truth, I enjoyed co-managing the place for a week - only. We clocked in at 10am and out at 10pm almost everyday with a few short breaks. That's not fun or sustainable for any decent period of time, hence the 'only'. Learning, however is fun. And so are a pair of 50kg dogs who love attention. And an always-purring kitty. And free reign on Will's wine. And the company of a friendly Colombian. And making fire. Oh, and the fraction of pressure combined with the relief of relieving it (I'm talking about the kitchen of course). Those things are fun. And that's what we'll remember.

    I'm glad Will gave us the opportunity to step up. I don't know how willing I would be to leave my life's work with a pair of randoms. I think he was grateful we saw that running a lodge isn't all wine and fly fishing and we were grateful for his gratitude (and a big old block of duty free lindt dark chocolate). I feel for them coming back from holiday and straight back into it - cooking dinner tonight and they won't be back until 6pm! We're now breaking the back of Chile with a 24 hour bus from Santiago (where we gave back the car to Will and family) to San Pedro de Atacama on the border with Bolivia. It's good to be back on the road and we've got an awesome itinerary lined up: Atacama, Salar de Uyuni, La Paz, lake Titicaca, Copacabana, Machu Piccu (pending), Amazon river (also pending), Lima and two weeks around Vancouver - can't wait! Flights booked to NZ on the 1st of August.

    PS following the Louis Vuitton on live updates is excruciating. If anybody knows how I can get a live stream please, please, please let me know! Or my next post might just be from Bermuda!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Chile, Chile, Chili, Kyili, ቺሌ, Cile, تشيلي, تشيلى, Çile, Tsile, Чілі, Чили, Sili, চিলি, ཅི་ལི་སྤྱི་མཐུན་རྒྱལ་ཁབ།, Čile, Xile, Şili, Chilska, ޗިލީ, Tsile nutome, Χιλή, Ĉilio, Tiiili, Txile, شیلی, Cilii, Kili, Ch·ili, Sily, An tSile, An t-Sile, ચિલી, Yn Çhillee, Cayile, Chṳ-li, צ׳ילה, चिले, Csile, Չիլի, Chíle, チリ共和国, tciles, ჩილე, ឈីលី, ಚಿಲಿ, 칠레, چلي, Shiile, Chilia, Síli, ຊິສິ, Čilė, Shili, Čīle, Чиле, ചിലി, चिली, Ċili, ချီလီ, Tsire, Chíilii, ଚିଲ୍ଲୀ, چېلي, चिलि, Cili, Čiile, Shilïi, චිලී, Cilé, Czile, சிலி, చిలి, ประเทศชิลี, ቺሊ, چىلى, چلی, Ciłe, Chi-lê (Chile), Cilän, Tchili, 智利, Чилмудин Орн, טשילע, Orílẹ́ède ṣílè, i-Chile

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