Day 1554 Friday 16th January

Oh gawd, we’ve gone back in time half a day, left at eleven AM, and now still the same time getting off from that surprisingly swift journey. It was bizarre when night drew in, as we were heading east and the dark heading west it was dark for just four hours! While Diane managed to sleep about half of it I did dumb things like watch movies and animal documentary’s. So feeling hungover we were herded to immigration, customs and finally baggage reclaim. Being a little nervous of our backpacks being molested we had them shrink wrapped in Perth and then sealed, to keep unwanted fingers from putting things in or taking out our dirty laundry. It also kept the flappy straps in order.

Our hotel was situated in the middle of the old town Santiago, and we had a balcony over street, so with no air conditioning we were sure to have lots of noise from below!!! It was a very low budget hotel with a couple of terrible reviews. We found the staff very helpful, the room clean and showers hot. All good here.

After showers, two hours sleep and much teeth being brushed we went for a walk through nearby busy markets. Not the kind with stalls but rugs, sheets or plastic spread over the stone walkway. Onto those were spread the afternoons treasures to be offered for sale. Not needing China’s finest golden cat, sat implausibly on its rear haunches with one front arm waving maniacally, we passed by. Taking more pleasure in people watching and trying to figure out what the foods were that smelt delicious, although slightly to oily for us.

Not far from our hotel we passed a small family restaurant, aptly called ‘The Tourist’. As a guy I worked with in Wickham was from Peru, he strongly recommended his countries food. So on Pancho’s advise we sat down to eat ceviche. A huge bowel of raw fish, squid and calamari marinaded in lime juice with onion and heaps of coriander. As he kept telling me when we used to sit in the bucket of his or my loader, eating our lunch, his country does have wonderful food.

We slept hoping to wake at the proper time in the morning, but three AM saw us fully awake, as that was Perth lunch time!!

Day 1555 Saturday 17th January

Taking a short walk to the outdoor market we got a little side tracked and diverted through one of the local malls and out into more street markets that smelt of warm fruit, the air heavy with strawberries, mango and star fruit. Unfortunately there seamed to be a plethora of stray dogs on the streets, while looking well fed, glossy coated and not showing any tendency to bite they did all leave a lot of poo on the side walks, adding to the heady perfume of the warm afternoon.

On the look out for a plug top for Chile, which I thought may be a task. Turning left out of the hotel we found the third shop was an electrical wholesaler!!! With plug bought we headed off to the market sector.

Upon finding the markets and ending at the backpacker cum bar area of old town Santiago we indulged in a beer, just the same as in Aussie, cold bland fizzy drink.

Finding ourselves close to the foot hill of the Virgen Maria we set about hiking up to the summit. The kiosk owner told us it would “take twenty minuets no mas”. So off we set, the day was typical smoggy overcast Santiago, the Andean backdrop almost obliterated by the cloud / exhaust fume mixture. Thankfully they had seen fit to install drinking taps every two hundred meters or so. Probably an hour and half later we stood at the foot of a gleaming pure white statue, over looking the city, from west to east. The huge apartment blocks stood small and insignificant in the smog below. The air up there was cooler, maybe fresher and the slight wind cooled our hot heads. Fair play to the kiosk owner the descent was closer to twenty minutes!!

On the way back to our hotel we passed through the clothing markets where we marvelled (!) at the big bummed manikins that displayed the tight jean pants that a great deal of the younger population wore, maybe its the cut of the cloth and not the shape of what’s held within.

Arriving back we recalled our sore feet from our Christmas day walk and did not relish how our calf muscles would feel in the morning.

Day 1557 Monday 19th January

Determined to shake off our jet lag we hauled ourselves to the sub metro to find our de consolidation agent, after much walking down and up the street our building remained elusive. Fairly convinced that our bikes had been sold into slavery, never to be seen again we fell into a nice coffee shop in need of a wake up brew and advise from a local, although the two other we asked gave conflicting opinions on which way we should take. This barista gave us further direction which took us back up the street, again. This time we stood facing our original building, some sixty numbers to high for our building. Turning half a turn we faced our block, looking for all the world like apartments. The nice lady at reception agreed with us that we were in the correct building.

Marco thankfully spoke English and was alarmed by the fact we were stood in his office asking about our bikes. Soon we had convinced him that we were just introducing ourselves and swapping contact details. Relived we had found the elusive office we headed to a very modern mall for a little retail therapy. With salad cheese and bread bought we headed home, weary from our days’ tracking.

Day 1558 Tuesday 20th January

Walked a few clicks to a museum documenting the rise and fall of Pinochet.

Something that I vaguely remember from my past. I never fully understood what occurred. Even upon leaving the museum I was surprised that the overthrowing election was fifty two per cent to get him out of rule. Not a landslide victory…….

Day 1559 Wednesday 21st January

Having woke at an ungodly hour we were packed and ready to be processed like cattle at the abattoir, er sorry airport. Soon we were airborne into a flight, lacking hot food and mind numbing wine, much needed for a long haul flight. Well one and a half is along time for us in a plane. We were well and truly over flying and we still had a last three hour blast to the worlds most southern city, Ushuaia, on the island of Tierra del Fuego.

We were greeted onto the Land of Fire by a strikingly hansom lady of almost two meters high and adorned in fine local jewellery, tall and lean, agile in stature. Bought about no doubt by the hectic cost of living at the end of the world, as we were about to find out.

A taxi that looked like it could do with a major rebuild took us to our homely hotel.