The bus trip out of Vina and Val (as the locals like to call them) was like a journey out of a movie set. At 7 in the morning the the sky was still dark and the city was cloaked in fog. I could imagine how in days of old the pirates would have slowly appeared through the mist and ransacked the towns. Apparently Francis Drake ransacked the town of Valparaiso more than once and I didnt even think he was a pirate! As we meandered through the hills one last time my mind wandered and I pictured boat loads of Johnny Depps appearing through the haze with bright coloured coats and shiney swords. Yes we were in pirate land and there was no need for a film set to be built at all! Adios to Valparaiso.
So this bus trip took us to a station on the outskirts of Santiago where we had to change to another (otra) bus to get to the airport for our plane to Patagonia. Despite concerns from the non Spanish speaking side of the partnership (apparently due to my dawdling again as I repacked my pack), everything worked in complete synchronicity as my ability to get around and communicate with the Glaswegians had developed over the week, hence we made the plane in plenty of time.
This flight was an interesting flight for a couple of reasons. Firstly I had noticed that much of the population in Chile was somewhat shorter than your average Aussie but this did not really hit home until we were seated in the plane and our knees were somewhere near our foreheads! Given the difficulty I have had with one knee over the last year or two (including surgery) I thought that the complete inability to move for 4 hours meant I was going to leave the plane hobbling along with one leg immobile for days and me needing to utilise one of my hiking poles just to keep balance for standing – let alone hiking in Torres del Paine national park! Secondly a family with four boys sat beside in front and behind us and I thought we were going to have screaming children invading our quiet time for the entire trip. Thankfully I was wrong on both counts. We were able to move around quite a bit and thankfully the screaming children were actually quite fun. Phillipe was able to practise his English on us and the one nearest me was having his sixth birthday and was the focus of attention of the Air attendants which meant we were too! Felice compleanos Ricardo!
So after viewing the massive glaciers from the aire we finally arrived in Punta Arenas Patagonia – destination perfecto! Well perfect if you are fully prepared for zero degrees with an unknown wind chill factor blowing in off the Magellan Strait! I realised I was going to need some serious thermals under my high tech warm gear and we wandered into the town in search of supplies. Desafortunatemente (my favourite spanish word really) there were no shops open. Nothing nada! Sunday evening in Patagonia it seems, is not shopping time. What was I thinking? Well I was thinking these people keep strange hours. We were getting sunburned at 8.30pm in Vina del Mare, it was pitch black at 8.30am and people seemed to take siestas from around 3pm until 7pm. It meant we had no idea of when shops or anything was opened. Well fortunatemente we are staying in the only hotel in town that has its own cafe opened for food, hence we ate, watched the people get ferried to the massive cruise liner just off shore, walked again and passed out with exhaustion. It was a long day!