Clare e-mailed from South America this week. I’m copying bits and pieces of it here:
I´m on an overland adventure holiday with my mate Bryony
from uni for 5 weeks which starts in Chile, goes through Argentina, and ends
up in Brazil. We´re being driven in a massive Dragoman truck. 70% camping
and 30% hotels. Really fantastic so far (but absolutely FREEZING…why
didn´t I choose someplace hot hot hot!!!)
Bry and I arrived ín Santiago last week. We had to change at Sao Paulo.
But 10 mins in to the flight from there to Santiago, 1 of the engines
failed, and we had to go back to Sao Paulo. I´ve never been so scared in my
life! Plane was dipping and swerving and sounded welllll out of control,
arrrgggghhhhhh! There wasn´t anther flight till the next day, but we got put
up for the night in a plush 5 star hotel for free, so nobody complained in
We stayed in Pucon for a few days, which very much reminded me of when I
went skiing in Austria…the snow,the mountains and the quaint little wooden
houses and cabins. We camped out in our tents in a place in the middle of
nowhere the first few days (somewhere between Santiago and Pucon), so we
were all glad to get into the nice warm cabins for a couple of days! It´s
freezing here, and everyone´s been buying extra thermals and sexy XL
longjohns from the chilean supermarkets!
Everyone is getting on really well, and guess what!? On the very first
night when we went out for that first meal, the guy me and Bryony were
sitting next to (there are 23 of us on the tour – 16 british, 1 american and
a couple of norwegian and a few aussies) was…..wait for it……….a guy
who has just finished his second year doing ancient history at Warwick
uni…hahahaha! Small world…I still can´t get over it!
My job within the group is “stove cleaner” (volunteered for an easy job
there methinks!) And we´re all in cook-groups with 3 others, when we have to
shop and cook for everyone. Haven´t had my turn yet, but I´m blatantly gonna
poison everyone, (oh, oops!!) Then I´m sure everyone will refuse to let me
cook ever again!! We´ve called ourselves “pig swill”, so noone gets their
hopes up too much!
Climbed up Mount Villarica at the weekend. It was awesome (as our
american Matt would say) I´m a pro with crampons, gaters and ice hacks now!
hehe! There were 8 of us who dared try it…we were all worried about not
being fit enough, but all decided noone had been to the gym for weeks so we
were all in the same boat! And it was so hard. We hiked up 1000 ft.
Unfortunately then, I had to stop coz I fet sick as a dog ( I think it may
have been the dodgy pumpkin risotto for dinner the night before, cooked by
the “Like it or Lump it” cook-group!). I was so disappointed at the time. We
had 2 guides with us who were brilliant though, and when I stopped, one
guide stayed with me and taught me how to hike down the slopes when I was
feeling abit better, and the other guide hiked up with the others – although
they couldn´t reach the top in the end due to ice and cloudy conditions.
The next day I went horserriding…I dunno if it´s coz it was Chilean,
but the horse was so damn naughty! I have never ridden before, so i was
quite scared of being thrown off beforehand, but I never thought I´d find
myself wishing it would go faster! I was on a horse called “Gordi” (Fatty!)
and all it wanted to do was eat the grass. We trekked right up into the
mountains though, and the lakes and mountains were so so beautiful. Well
We all went to the hot thermal springs that evening, which were just
amazing. We were in there for ages, and it was made better by the fact it
was raining. So we had the really cold water on our backs, but the rest of
our body was toasty hot!! I also dared the cold river, and dunked myself in
(whilst screaming, abit wussy, admittedly!) Then getting back in the hot
springs was the best feeling!
A couple of long day drives and some very very very very cold nights
camping, I´m now over in Argentina, in a lovely town called Bariloche. A few
of us took a boat ride to Victoria Island and one of the National Parks,
which provided some more beautiful views. All the tours we had were in
Spanish though, so I was hopeless and all I could understand was the odd
time when something english would come out…”snack bar” mostly, as that was
the central meeting point!
Today, I´ve been shopping…Bariloche is THE place for leatherware and
chocolate…retail therapy is good for you yeh!? (Just trying to justify the
money spent!)…dunno where I´m going to put the pair of Skechers
though…or the kilo of chocolate…..!!
They’re having a heatwave in England, Clare!