Retreating to the mountains.

Trip Start Aug 15, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2006

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Flag of Chile  ,
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In the spirit of one last South American adventure we visited the Andes for our final time. A flyer for a mountain refuge had caught our attention and seemed a great way to have a bit of R&R before our epic flight across the Pacific. Further research told of a remote location and warned of difficulties reaching the refuge without a car. We were not to be put off and stubbornly boarded a bus to nowhere! As the Andes rose above us and the roads became more winding we were left in San Jose de Maipo (45km from our destination) to complete the journey independently. As if from nowhere a cab appeared...and thus began our comedy roadtrip into the mountains. It became quickly apparent that the comedy duo in front had not done this journey before, as they also stared in wonder at the surrounding landscape and as their car's suspension struggled under the rough terrain.

Arriving in one piece, we enjoyed the setting of our refuge and were buoyant with the prospect of two days R&R. Well, at least until we realised there were a couple of minor issues to resolve.
1) A lack of cash and visa facilities (still 45km from the nearest ATM).
2) A shit "Wilkos" padlock now broken and permantly locking the contents of our bag, which included the camera from our reach.

Spanish is a wonderful language, in that it allows a great deal of stupid predicaments to be lost in translation. This doesn't work though when the owner of the estabilishment is a Brit!

With the minor crisis resolved we had a fantastic time chillin' in Lo Valdes. The food was great, drinks cheap and there was a nice dog for Em.

The highlight of the stay was a walk into the Andes and a dip in some pretty spectacular thermal baths. A 22km round trip didn't seem that daunting, or at least not until within the first km we encountered a pack of scary dogs, again!! With this overcome we found the walk exhilarating and were pleased to have got lost only on the one occasion. Visually the baths were stunning, unfortunately under foot they were pure mud and slime, the kind that oozes through the toes! The poor Chilean staff there experienced more than they had planned for though. As Em began to change there was a realisation that she had "mislaid" her bra! After seaching high and low, and describing through hand gestures what she had lost (use your imagination) it was spotted 50 metres away and the poor Chilean didnt quite know how to handle the item as he retreived it and returned it to its thankful owner!!
An 11km walk home in turning weather was not a nice prospect, so we instead hitched a lift!
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