Trip Start Aug 01, 2003
Trip End Jan 27, 2004

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Saturday, December 27, 2003

Atacama Desert, San Pedro, La Serena, Santiago, Pucon

Chile, strange Christmas and 22 days before I come home. How am I feeling? Christmas was incredibly different as you will read further on. Hot, hot, hot but a white Christmas in an unconventional way. Coming home? Apprehensive, excited and sad to be leaving these fantastic memories and places behind. Will I ever come back? Will I ever remember all of the places I have seen? Going to read my emails on the flights home just to remind myself of the incredible trip I have been on.

Oh, people have been asking my if I am skinny as a rake now that I have been travelling. Well, no I`m bloody well not actually. In fact I have put on a stone!!! Why? Sitting on the truck for hours on end every couple of days for 5 months keeps us pretty inactive and burns off nothing. Oh and of course there is the little matter of my passion for food. I can honestly say that I have eaten my way through The Americas at some of the most fantastic restaurants I have ever been to. With so many mixed cuisines from around the world... we`re talking global dining here! And I don`t regret a morsel.

THE ALTIPLANO DESERT: Then in the middle of the Altiplano is the border crossing to Chile. He we were stamped in and handed over to another tour company. They took us to down and down and down into the Atacama desert and into Chile. And suddenly we were stripping layers off again and it was getting really hot. By the time we arrived in San Pedro and set up camp we were all in shorts again! One extreme to another in a day! It kind of blows you away and still amazes me when it happens.

BUSH CAMP: Next day, a quick stop off at the "Hand in the Desert". Place there by the government it`s a huge structure made from concrete I think of a huge hand (from the wrist upwards to the fingers) sticking out of the middle of the desert on the side of the road. As big as a house. !!!!! Odd! Then a beach camp in the middle of nowhere. A rocky coastline, a moody sea and a desert spot (no facilities) on the edge of the water. They`re great these nights where we just stop unplanned in the middle of somewhere baron.

SANTIAGO: We arrive in Santiago, capital of Chile, and check into a fantastically plus hotel. I always have my own room now as "I need my space" and sprawl out on the double gold gilt bed, marvelling at the black and gold velvet wallpaper and flicking through the satellite channels on the TV with the remote. Can`t even remember how many showers I had during our 3 day stay but I certainly made the most of the luxury as we now have 23 straight days camping.

New Year`s Eve promised to be a good one but as usual the club we wanted to get into was sold out and we made a last minute dash to find a bar before midnight. We found an Aussie bar which happened to have another overland group in there that we had met before so we all got trashed, played pool and celebrated multiple new year`s. Almost one every hour... kiwi, Aussie, Maltese, dutch and British. We were all happy new year`d out. Found another bar that had a band and danced the night away until 6am. Slept all day the next day and watched about four movies. Surfaced to eat and then back to the TV. What a perfect, self-indulgent new year`s day.

PUCON: Now we have travelled to a place that looks like Canada to me. I swear it looks just like Banff in Canada. Fresh alpine mountains, log cabins, Swiss restaurants, a lake and tourists. It`s great actually as I have missed Canada (I love the freshness, the openness of it) and hope to return there and to Alaska.

And this is where you find me. With 22 days to go before I come home. Shocking! How did that happen. Chile is great and is probably so as it is a more affluent country that say Peru and Bolivia. People are more international here and in some ways it is like being at home. The countryside is very English, very green and some of the drive looks like the south of France. So it`s turning into a bit of a holiday before we get home. Sat on the edge of the lake in the sun for lunch, with a glass of wine, watching the water sparkle, boats and jet skis racing around the bay and enjoying the heat. It`s January, it`s not supposed to be this hot in January. In and out of Chile and Argentina for the remainder.

So there you have it. Another huge email on it`s way to you all. Enjoy the read and make the most of it as there is probably only one more left before I come home.

Ciao amigos.

Peace & love
T xxx
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