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Zoe and Dan's South American Adventures: Don't cry for me.....

Category: Other stuff
Date: 16 February 2004


Since last writing, we have enjoyed spells in the Chilean and Argentinian lake districts, and have wound our way down to Patagonia. We´re writing this from Puerto Natales in the very south of Chile.

Yes, Argentina, where the mullet and Diego Maradona are still worshipped as gods, and vegetarians are met with incredulity. We have taken the consumption of cheese, pasta and bread to new levels (zoe was overheard saying "that looks nice" as regards to a large steak. Is she secretly scoffing prime rump while Dan "enjoys" another cheese sandwich? She denies everything of course.) Due to carb consumption, and tempting local cholocates, ice creams and cakes, weight loss process has been reversed. Also availability of cheap excellent wine (bottle of chablis for 1 pound last night) and beer has not helped in this respect.

To try to redeem ourselves we have been very active and are most concerned that we are turning into "Outdoor Types". The symptoms are as follows:-

- we are proud owners of a new tent, which we have actually used (oh, and a camping stove) - we went rafting twice in four days (and enjoyed it) (cheesy photos may follow) - have been on several hikes (nowadays called treks for some reason) and enjoyed them, one in the Bariloche area of Argentina lasting three days, and are planning a five day trek to start tomorrow (yikes!) - we have begun to admire the breeches and sticks sported by other trekkers

By the time we arrive home we will be refusing to wear any clothes which do not bear a North Face or Karrimor label. Our only hope is that our planned spells in Santiago, Buenos Aires and Rio will cure us of this outdoorsishness (Dan: "Pass me my thong love, I´m off down t´beach to play frisbee").

Leek and daffodil fans will be interested to know that we spent three days in Welsh Patagonia, with very un-Welsh weather at 30 degrees celsius. We visited a wildlife reserve (where we saw armadillos, penguins and sea lions) and some Welsh colonial settlements where we were served the biggest pot of tea (with cosy, natch) ever (although we declined the rather huge Welsh cakes and sarnies on offer - not sure what exactly made them welsh). Met a woman who only spoke Welsh or Spanish - first South American we´ve heard speaking Spanish with a Welsh accent! Our very own Daniel Owen Thomas was outwelshed, despite his name, by two welsh speaking visitors to the museum in one of the towns we visited. Notwithstanding this setback, he aims to be invited back to speak at next year´s Eistedfodd.

Had some transport trouble getting down to Patagonia. It transpired that unless we were prepared to wait several days our only way of getting down here was to fly. And only business class seats ("Condor Class", no less) were available. So, we took the plunge, and for the princely sum of 100 pounds each, had use of the airport´s VIP room ("Another Johnnie Walker, Zoe?"), a free newspaper and a meal served with china by our personal hostess. The game was up, however, when they obviously saw us for the riff-raff that we really are and our so-called "priority" luggage rolled out nearly last on the carousel. However, we do believe that this was the first time that a tent has ever flown Condor Class.

The landscape down here has been fabulous - jagged mountains straight out of Lord of the Rings, glaciers, and brilliant turquoise lakes and rivers. Visited the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina which was amazing - we stood and watched huge shards of blue ice fall off the glacier into the lake below.

Dan says thank you for the hundreds of birthday goodwill messages. Bit dry on the present front this year, however the bag of peanuts (250g) and quart of pisco sour proferred by Zoe did offer some small comfort. Spent the evening enjoying a bad pizza and listening to a free outdoor jazz concert by what looked like the local school orchestra.

Hope everyone is well and wrapped up against the cold back in Blighty.

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