Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A Chilean Navidad

We left Porvenir for Punta Arenas by ferry, after being honoured to a fascinating tour of Ramon's textile factory by his manager Robert; it was really interesting to have the opportunity to see a different side of Chile from the standard tourist and service industry one tends to be exposed to!

Ja's knee continued to cause problems when cycling and it was suggested that it needed a period of 'complete rest' in order to recover. Ja was of course delighted by this (especially as the hostel had wifi), and took the notion rather literally; spending the best part of a week re-aquainting himself with the internet and barely moving other than to occasionally venture out to adjust something or other on one of the bikes. I took the opportunity to make preparations for the next leg (243km to Puerto Natales) and do a bit of the tourist thing (the slightly 'The Prisoner'-esque photo was taken in the cemetery-a vast marble city lined with these incredible topiaried trees!)

We were given a very fond farewell as we finally set off for Natales, with lots of hugs and photos and being waved off by the owners Pamelita and Eduardo. Pamelita was so concerned that we were going to spend the festive period in a ditch, and that Santa wouldn't know where to find me, that she gave me a christmas present of the rather fetching stuffed penguin who now adorns my handlebars. Pinguinita flaps his wings in an amusing fashion in high winds, and plans to travel with us until I find a more worthy home for him (or gets blown away, whichever happens sooner). Anyway, all this attention surrounding our leaving made it rather embarrassing when after 65km Ja realised that in spite of all his intense resting the knee wasn't going to make it another 180km, and it was more sensible to return the way we had come than to continue. Luckily we were welcomed back with just as much gusto, and were in time to spend a very lovely Christmas Eve in traditional Chilean fashion, joining Eduardo, Pamelita, their entire extended family and the other guests at the hostel in sharing a midnight bar-b-q (paradilla) of whole lamb and choritzo, and drinking pisco sour till the early hours. We did, of course, drink a toast to absent friends and family, and send everyone much Christmas love and cheer.


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