Some highlights and some lowlights

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Flag of Chile  , Lake District,
Friday, March 30, 2012

Puerto Varas wasn't even on the agenda of places to visit until the very last minute... In fact I hadn't even really heard of it until about a week before we went there, but it was definitely responsible for some of the biggest highlights and lowlights of the trip!
Firstly, a highlight:
We decided to check out the lakes district from the Chilean side of the Andes by taking a combination of busses and ferries to get to the boarder town which was located approximately 100km east of Puerto Varas. We had been told by a few people that the ferry ride through this area was extremely picturesque and peaceful... Of course, this was only true if you could see past the very low lying grey clouds that had decided to grace us with their presence. As things weren't looking too good, we chose to do something a bit more adventurous in a bid to ensure that we hadn't wasted the day and a whole lot of money. Our choice... Horse riding! 
This turned out to be a whole lot more adventurous than what we had anticipated. Having done horse riding once before back at home, Jaclyn and I had been privileged enough to experience a safety briefing on how to ride and control the horses correctly. Unfortunately we had forgotten everything that we had learnt and being in South America such a briefing didn't seem to be necessary to the guide who was taking us... To his credit though he did give us one hint; apparently riding a horse is like driving a car! Hmm, I'm not sure what kind of car he drove, but I can't remember the last time that I got out of a car with a sore bum! 
Sure enough within 10 minutes of us leaving, one lady had been bucked off her horse and the rest of us were left to ponder who would be next? Fortunately we managed to cross two fast flowing rivers and make it to the lookout unscathed! To make things even better, the cloud had started to lift and we were able to marvel at the huge mountains that were surrounding us. On the way back, our guide in all of his wisdom gave us the opportunity to 'take the horses for a test drive.' Maybe this is what he meant by "it's like driving a car." Naturally, I chose to see what I could do with it, as I had only experienced a trot before. Now the thing that I had learnt about horses when I went riding in Australia was 1) If a horse runs beside another one, they may feel as if they are being challenged and their natural instinct is to race and 2) if one horse starts running, the others will follow, especially if you haven't been shown how to control the horse. Now Jaclyn was more than comfortable with the idea of keeping to a trot... Unfortunately though, when I rode past her at a million miles an hour she had no choice but to hold on for dear life whilst her horse set off in pursuit of mine, and of course neither of us knew where to find the brake pedal on the bloody things! Once again, with only luck and no skill to thank, we managed to get through the ride without a scratch and we were back on the ferry crossing the lakes. As the sky had cleared up by this time, we were able to enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains and the glacial capped volcanos that we had missed earlier in the morning, making for a good day overall!

Now for the Lowlights:
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and this was the case in Puerto Varas. Over the past 3 months I had become accustomed to travelling with my best friend and lovely girlfried, Jaclyn. Yes there had been times where she had driven me crazy and left me confused due to her constant complaints about walking in El Chalten, just to later state that she really enjoyed the hiking... Yes there were times where I was required to curve my level of perving in Rio de Janeiro and Punte Del Este so as to not offend... Yes there was even a time where I was tempted to push her into a crevase on the Perito Moreno Glacier. But then there were also times where I got us bogged in the middle of nowhere and she wanted to kill me too... Or when I made her climb over some large rocks where death was almost imminent (according to her)... And lets not even talk about the number of times that I put her in a position where her hair got messed up (I think that could still be a sore point now)! But, she had been there to experience all of the South American highlights with me. Together, we have been to the majestic Macchu Pichu, relaxed with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, been mesmerized by the mighty Iguazu Falls, partied it up in Rio for Carnival and explored the natural wonders of Patagonia! All of these places made so special by her company alone. Whilst I was in Antarctica I had missed her so much, and this was just two weeks. How was I going to cope for 9 months? I guess only time will tell! 
As her departing wish, Jaclyn asked me to write about my attempts to woo her in our last two nights together... If there is one thing I know about girls, it is that they like to be pampered with romantic gestures... If there is one thing I know about myself, it is that I will try to do this but generally screw it up somewhere along the line! So naturally when she asked me to take her out for dinner in the nights leading up to her departure, I thought how hard could it be? I did some reading up in the lonely planet and decided to take her to a place that looked nice. After some time had been spent on her hair and make up and I had even donned on some jeans (a rarity for me) we arrived at the restaurant only to smell a horrible stench of rotting fish... Not wanting to be sick for our last day together we headed off to another restaurant that we had purchased ice-cream from a couple of days earlier. On our arrival we discovered that it was a family restaurant full of screaming kids... Fail! To make it up to her I promised that I would cook for her the following night. By request from her, steak was on the menu! At least I thought it was steak... As I started cooking the peace of meat, I realised that I had in fact purchased pork chops, which neither of us really fancied, nor did we trust my cooking abilities enough to not give us food poisoning... So for dinner on our last night together we ended up eating lettuce leaves and one small potato, both of which Jaclyn had prepared. Naturally, she was disappointed... Epic fail! 
After Jaclyn left I felt myself feeling the loneliest that I had ever felt! I was in a hostel where only one other person spoke English and my new room mate drove me nuts by continually trying to have conversations with me in Spanglish (predominately spanish with the odd english word thrown in). I had to get out, so I chose to visit Volcan Osorno. It was a beautiful conic shaped volcano that towered over the surrounding towns and provided stunning panoramic views of the lakes and national parks below. However, as beautiful as it was, it didn't provide me with the stimulus that I needed to take my mind off the feeling of loneliness that I was now experiencing... My solution to this was to go canyoning the very next day!
For those of you who don't know what canyoning is, it has got to be close to one of the most extreme things that I have ever done! It is basically natures response to water amusement parks! It involves you putting on a wetsuit and treating a sequence of waterfalls as if they were water slides, sometimes heading down them head first on your back! There was also some repelling down a 30m waterfall that was thrown in there, as well as jumping off ledges into the rock pools below! The highest jump that I did was 14m and it required me to keep my body as stiff as a board as I hit the water... Unfortunately due to the adrenaline rush of it all, I forgot to do this and as a result received the biggest enema of all time (which was probably a good thing as I may very well have shat myself on the way down!)
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Keeley on

Thanks for the pork chop Tom! Your cooking skills can't be that bad as you didn;t give me food poisoning!! Hope you are enjoying your travels where ever you are now in SA!

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