Assured that Route 40 after Cafayete would be a good road, newly paved, we set off on Sunday morning. We refueled in town, and had a delightful exchange with a young petrol pump attendant who wanted to know all about the van and our trip. Across the way a pastry shop provided us with brunch, and then we went in search of a smoothie that had been promised to Fred. In the main square we parked up and Dean bumped into a group of American students in another Wicked campervan. We’d previously encountered them in the gas station at San Pedro de Atacama. He passed 20 minutes with them catching up on their adventure and sharing ours. Fred and I waited across the sunlit, tree filled square for the smoothie shop to open. The owner languidly mopped his floor, unperturbed by waiting customers. This is not a country that you can force a rush, however often I got up, leaned in the door, smiled, and did my ‘we’re in a hurry look’. With an immobile face, that a Botox Dr would be proud of, he mopped over the same floor, which was already gleaming. When the smoothie came Fred assured me it was worth the wait, and beaming smiles with “Muchos Gracias” from Fred was rewarded with a broad grin from the owner.
Dean brought me up to speed on the Americans in the van. A group of 5 girls and 1 boy, they were on a study tour in Valparaiso and had taken a break to explore the north of Chile and Argentina. They needed to get their van back in 3 nights and were under some pressure to cover over 1000km, plus the day long border crossing in that time. A mislaid passport by one had caused a 2 day delay as fresh papers were sorted. Unlike us they had also had their van emptied and all items searched for 4 hours at the other border crossing, which we had been advised not to take. I didn’t envy their experience, or the challenge they had coming up.
The drive proved an easy one, albeit rather monotonous. We’ve had our fill of deserts, just as in Canada we had our fill of huge mountains and acres of trees and lakes, and this drive was 5 hours of perfectly straight roads the disappeared into the dusty horizon. Admittedly the scenery was stunning, but it wasn’t fresh to us. In large flat valleys between the Andes and the internal mountain range the wind battered the van, and a few times we had to get out and put the cover back on the roof tent. After 5 hours we arrived in Belen. It was a rapid and delightful change of geography which this country is full of. We descended from rocky desert into a lush valley, streams appearing from nowhere, willow and cypress trees in abundance. We entered the village via a ford, and emerged outside a general store, which also served as outdoor bar. Needing food and advice on where to camp, we pulled off the road and walked back to the shop. A girl approached offering a tray of homemade cakes, a celebration seemed to be taking place. Outside the shop a couple in their late 20s sat in the back of a car with doors open onto the pavement, smoking, drinking and making out with wild abandon. Being late on a Sunday and looking slightly disheveled, we suspected they’d been at it for some time. On benches outside the shop men and women, late middle aged, sat glasses in hand, clearly well sozzled. Think of a Sunny Sunday in the pub garden about 6pm when the sunburnt are still downing pints after a 1pm start. No one seemed too worried about work the next day. Of course their cheeks were full of the coca leaves that are ubiquitous in this part of the world.
We stepped into the dark unlit shop, unsure if it was open, and found the usual paltry, but wholly adequate choice of goods. Father, daughter and grandson milled around. On one counter stood an array of stationery, including photocopier and fax. Bizarrely a vibrant pink full sized football sat atop a halved 1.5 litre drinks bottle, serving as a stand for the ball. Another hidden counter had fruit and veg, stacked behind it tinned and dry products. I still haven’t got to grips with the fact that you don’t do self service. With a broad smile the 30 year old daughter took the produce I’d collected out of my hands and asked me what else I wanted. Its like stepping back in to the England, so wonderfully captured in ‘Open All Hours’, that I remember as a young child. We got meats, veg, fruits, drinks, and of course the football. Fred’s was dying and this one was only $8. Fred had found a cat lazing on the floor under a table, delighted that someone had found her to stroke, she lay back for him with all four paws in the air. We established that the grandson was also called Fred which immediately bonded us all. Fred and I were ushered out of the back of the shop, urged to follow when we were unsure, and taken through a kitchen, TV blaring the Bocca Juniors game out, to the yard. Across from the heaps of junk in the yard was the purpose of this visit. Proudly, ‘Belen Fred’s’ mum showed us her Llama. We struggled to contain ourselves when we were told that this lovely sweet animal was called Martin, the incongruity tickled us thoroughly. Martin had the most beautiful eyes and luscious lashes. All soft fluffy hair he spoke to us in funny purring squeaks. Fred and I stroked and petted him, ‘Belen Fred’s’ mother beamed. We returned through the kitchen and paused there while Fred stroked the cat that had retreated there from the shop. All around us items were strewn, caked in grease and dust, the telly however was gleaming and centre stage. We paid up and said our goodbyes, with directions given to the Tourist Information office and local municipal campsite. Handshakes from grandad and embraces from Fred’s mum. They had done well out of our trade on a slow Sunday evening, but we had the best of it with another wonderfully warm experience.
A tour through Belen, picking up food supplies and cash, brought us to the Municipal campsite. Argentina has them in nearly every town, they are extremely cheap or free, as was the case in Belen. Fabulous aging sporting facilities sat inside the vast park at the edge of the town. A running track doubled as a velodrome, football pitches nestled inside the track. A grandstand of racetrack proportions was painted white. Nearby an Olympic sized swimming pool was full of leaves, the peeling sky blue paint just visible. You see the recent economic history of Argentina in these places; when newly erected 50 or 60 years ago it would have been a significant investment by one of the worlds richest countries, now the wood shows more than the paint applied decades ago, and the wrought iron playground equipment rusts as Argentina no longer has the money to invest in renovations and upkeep. Nevertheless the population of Belen was out in force, taking full advantage of all the facilities. Lots of plump women admirably put themselves through their paces, sporting tracksuits and carrying water bottles. Cyclists raced in groups, families picnicked at the elaborate BBQs, children filled the swings and roundabouts.
After a long and challenging drive Dean just missed driving into a tree at the centre of the huge car park, sun had blinded him, but it brought rich chuckles from the families sat around the tables. We found spot and set up camp, cooking began straight away and Fred found boys to play football with. We chatted with a few mothers who passed us by, and toasted with Vino Tinto, some ladies who were briskly doing laps. The park emptied quickly at nightfall, the mozzie bites we quickly accumulated told us why. After dinner we retired for an early, and quiet night, sleep. Or not. What we didn’t know, but were to find out several times on this trip, is that Argentinians wake up about 11pm and that is when they start to party. In Municipal campsites. After an hours sleep we were woken by thumping boom boxes, an eclectic mix of rave, rap and Ibiza creating at once a cacophony of sound. We drifted off, and back out of sleep, several times until at 3am everyone had packed up. That was about when the dogs started.
Bleery eyed we set off early, another big drive was planned to San Juan de Jachal. Full of fuel, we picked up homemade sandwiches us from a roadside ‘kiosk’, a window in someone’s house, for breakfast. Our drive was over 6 hours and more wonderful scenery, fortunately the roads were good and not a soul in sight for the majority of our trip. We had intended to get fuel and food in San Juan de Jachal before heading up to a small village, high in the Andes 40km away called Rodeo. Unfortunately, we came mighty unstuck when none of the ATMs would work on any of our cards, and the only fuel station that took credit cards was out of fuel. Marooned, with very limited supplies we found the municipal campsite on the outside of town that was fortunately free. We were down to our last $5 (I’ve had to move to $ rather than pounds as my pound key has given up the ghost on our laptop… apols). Dean had emergency US$ which we would have to come to the bank to change in the morning, we had discovered that at this edge of Argentina not even the national bank ATMs work for international accounts.
Two kiosks sat around the woodland out of town campsite, one alongside the huge swimming pool, empty save rubbish and garden waste. At the nearest kiosk a swarthy toothless man was delighted that we wanted to camp here. His youthful girlfriend, baby in arms, came out to speak to me in English. She was bashful and full of blushes when I told her she spoke good English. He offered to sell me some wine, but I explained that we were fresh out of cash. Not to worry, he plonked down a litre box of white and red wine, $1 each. Dean came back later to get the white, what’s to lose hey? It was fantastic, it washed down our dinner beautifully. Dinner was a mélange of emergency supplies; tinned tuna, tinned asparagus, mayonnaise and spaghetti. We all agreed it was pretty tasty. As I prepared dinner I had the help of 5 year old Loreli and her smaller brothers. They had been playing at one of the tables as their mother nursed a small baby. Loreli was fascinated by our camping stoves and what we were making. She put the salt in my water, opened a tin, and joshed with her younger brother who was wearing our sieve as a hat. She told me about her family, coached me into pronouncing her name correctly (I earnt an enthusiastic handclap and bravo when I finally got it right), taught me Spanish and she learnt English. Sweetly precocious for her age, I ached just a little for a girl like her to complement our family.
Meanwhile the obligatory dogs had turned up. Heartbreakingly we also came across our first puppies. Two fluff balls, no more than 6-8 weeks old were playing and sleeping at a neighboring brick BBQ. Fred was overwhelmed and declared it the best place he’d been to. He set about feeding and watering them, and the plump, full teeted bitch that was with them. Spare flight blankets were pulled from the van and a bed was made for them in their spot. We decided to deal with the flea bites rather than stop the puppies being cuddled and nursed. The bitch stood by as Fred fed the pups and bedded them down. We gave her separate supplies which she wolfed down, clearly hungry. Other dogs stood back from the puppies food, letting the stray youngsters get their fill, we rewarded them with their own bowls. What was remarkable about all this, was the bitch was not their mother. When morning came she was gone but the puppies were still there. Her full teets and belly was her own pregnancy nearing full term. We couldn’t understand why she tended them so well but hadn’t groomed them, they stank and were covered in muck. Fostering them, like the other older dogs on the site, didn’t bring with it maternal cleaning instincts (Nellie still grooms Patch despite him being 3 years old), that may also have stopped her letting us handling the pups. In the morning I enquired at the kiosk about the puppies and was told that they had been dumped at the park about a week before, and no, the bitch was not their mother. We’d been emotional the night before, wondering how many of the pups the bitch had lost, with only 2 left. Now we were heartbroken. Saving grace came in the form of the many workmen on the site clearing the irrigation channels and the stray ‘pack’ that occupied the site. On the BBQ, where we had settled the pups down the night before, under blankets, and with food and water, was an empty plastic sandwich bag. The workmen brought food for the pups too. The big black dog, who had nearly taken the skin off my finger the night before jumping up for food, stood back as we fed the pups in the morning, only growling at them when they cheekily left their full bowl and crossed to give his a try. Stray adults were taking care of the babies that had been added to the abandoned pack. Workmen were bringing in scraps to give the pups a fighting chance. Nevertheless I sobbed my heart out before, and as we were leaving. I wished more than anything that we could take them with us, but we couldn’t. We left the workmen with the bag of dog food and showed them the blankets. They understood and thanked us. Like Smokey and Dusty, the pups will live with us for a long time. We hope they have a long and happy life, free, protected by the pack around them, and helped by the kindness of human strangers.
An antidote to high and deep emotion came when we attempted to get US dollars changed at the bank. We arrived at 9am, the bank opened at 8am, but found that the currency changing hour didn’t start until 10am. Don’t ask. We milled around, rather hungry, but not able to buy anything, with no cash, in this cash economy, we filled up on the ample supplies of water we carry. Eventually 10am came and Dean was already at the front of the queue. It took 30 minutes of Monty Pythonesque procedure for him to emerge with his Argentinian Pesos, acquired at a remarkably favorable exchange rate. Forms had to be filled in triplicate, no one seemed to know what to do with them, passports were photocopied, but no one seemed to understand how to complete the computer process. Just as I was getting worried that we would have to divert entirely, and head inland to a big city, Dean emerged Peso’s in hand. We filled up with fuel, that had been delivered in the night, as we left San Juan de Jachal, and started the 40km uphill to Rodeo. We were much in need of some rural idyll and a restful campsite for a few days. The Municipal one at San Juan had turned into the same rave scene as Belen’s, although I’ve by now mastered sleeping through it, sounds entering and shaping my dreams. Still, clothes were filthy, we’d done too many one night stops without showers and facilities, and we generally wanted to have a bit of a break to recharge.
Windy hairpins, on a less than perfect road, with adverse cambers, inviting a drop off the cliff edge, kept us on our toes and ambivalent about the stunning views. If anything caught our eyes it was the roadside memorials to those who had less luck, or judgement, than we did. They lined the way, pyramid piles of empty water bottles placed by visitors as a glittering memorial. On reaching the top, at 2,500 meters, we were rewarded by the most breathtaking of sights. The vast mountain lake, in the heart of the Andes, was a motionless mirror to the snow covered peaks that surrounded it. Perfect symmetry was before us. We had read in Lonely Planet that from October onwards this is the best windsurfing lake in the world, but it had not mentioned, nor had any other book we had read, the beyond beautiful view. There was not a soul in sight, and we enjoyed it in solitude for 30 minutes. Bull frogs called across the lake from one of the small islands, a massive distance, but we heard them with absolute clarity as they shattered the silence. We moved the van to an outcrop to do a photo shoot for Wicked Campers and ourselves. Stan even seemed to smile. A walk to the waters edge and we found the water fresh, but not icy, despite being fed by the snow melting as Spring came into full swing. Full up on the pure beauty of the views, we followed the road around the lake to Rodeo, of course this brought more magnificent views and sights. Our favorite was a family of 3 Moorhens (or some such), gliding across the still lake, leaving small elegant slipstreams behind them. It was here that we saw the oasis in the high Andes that is Rodeo. Vast Willow and towering cypress trees circled, and filled, the village. Cattle and horses grazed on the lush grass. Although we could have wild camped we had decided that hot showers, after 3 days of unwashed sweating was in order. The tourist info directed us to the only one open and we were rather dubious as we pulled into the ramshackle yard, greeted by ‘Swampy’ 30 years on from the Newbury Bypass protests. Turned out that the campsite was down a lane, through the yard, and as we drove through the avenue of fruit and cypress trees we came out into the most idyllic of dingily dells. In a slight hollow, the wooded haven was circled by a babbling stream, horses grazed, and the snow covered Andes looked down on us. A lovely lolloping chap came and found us, delighted to have a customer out of season. We found a pitch but he urged us to move. He knew his site. He guided us further down and we weaved through the Willows until we were beside the brook, a stone table with seating sat under a pergola with the water running at its edge. BBQ with wrought Iron sinks, shade and speckled warm sun, and perfect views made this his best spot.
Before we set up the tent and camp, we went off to get supplies for the 2 night, 3 day stop. Just up the road a proper corner store beckoned. Smaller than our kitchen, it overflowed with goods of all sorts, yet again everything we needed. Stuffed into this space a butcher oversaw his counter, 2 young men ran around getting goods for customers, and boss sat over his large calculator ready to tally the purchases. A nursing mother also sat in a corner, part of this family business. Per square foot Argentina shops are the best staffed I’ve ever seen. We let the butcher choose our steaks, again we left him wide eyed at how fat we wanted them sliced. Piling up homemade Sausages, half a chicken on the bone, black pudding, and cold cuts made him smile. We let our server choose our wine, his best, $3 a bottle (we took 4). Fully stocked up on veg, olives, dried goods, fruit, and plentiful fine wine all for $60. We let one of the chaps carry our boxes to the van and tipped him for his trouble.
We had lunch at our riverside table, sweet avacaods, fat tomatoes, sharp cheeses, piquant cold meats, and warm fresh bread required a ‘coup’ of vino tinto to wash it down. It was all marvelous and just what we needed. Dean, who had the worst of sleep for 2 nights with the Municipal campsite partying, retired to the cool of the tent for a siesta. Fred had a domestic science lesson; handwashing our entire wardrobe with Mum. He wasn’t bad, enthused by the opportunity to leash hell on an ants nest by the loo block with dirty water. We strung up 2 lines of washing, sun would bleach what we hadn’t been able to scrub out, but at least the dust and sand was gone. Being a school day ipad time was limited so we decided to explore the contents of the river. We soon found it stuffed with freshwater crabs and decided to see whether we could catch any. Fred is obsessed by the idea of joining the scouts and becoming self sufficient when in nature. We found a stick, some of the blue string we use for odds and sods, and sacrificed some of the sausage left over from lunch. The sieve was retrieved as a scoop for any that took the bait. It wasn’t long before we had 2 doing circles in our washing up bowl, full of river water. I left Fred to it, sat on a picnic blanket, looking like ‘Jiminy Cricket’ and sat down to blog.
A perfect afternoon of restful pleasures, satisfied by chores done, was topped off by BBQ preparation. Dean gathered dry wood from around the site, and I got the potatoes ready for Papas Fritas. It was a lovely meal, taken again at our riverside table. We polished off the 2013 we had opened at lunch and decided we needed to see if the 2014 was as good. It was. So good we polished that off too. Satiated all round, sure of no boom boxes appearing on the deserted campsite to disturb our sleep, we made for an early night hopeful that the babbling stream wouldn’t make us want to pee all night. It didn’t.
We passed 2 wonderful nights and nearly 3 days in Rodeo pottering about our site, enjoying its remoteness. Of course dogs had joined us, this time shaggy large wolfhounds. We enjoyed them, relieved that our leaving would not break our hearts again, they were big boys who owned the space around them, and had no need of ‘owners’.
This was to be our final big drive before we crossed The Andes back into Argentina, and we were going to settle for another couple of nights outside Mendoza. It took an uneventful 6 hours to get there. By now we don’t bat an eyelid when a horse and cart, dog following behind, turns onto the motorway…… Dean had found the Termas Cacheuta in Lonely Planet. The largest series of hot baths in Argentina, it had waterslides and waterways that worked through a 5 acre site. The weather had changed as we came into Mendoza, grey and overcast. However up the mountain to the Termas the clouds cleared and the sun shone bright. We found a restaurant opposite the entrance to the Termas who were happy to let us camp. They even had washrooms we could use. It was perfect. Again being low season nothing was open in the evening, however the restaurant had a tiny grocery store attached and the chef butchered us half a chicken. We stewed it in the pot with caramalised onions and carrots. Tinned peas finished it off, and it paired perfectly with buttery mash. We got an early night, ‘Daddy’s Home’ made us howl with laughter in the tent as we snuggled down, in preparation for a full day of water based fun and relaxation.
A cold night, with the whole village of dogs waking for a unified choral rendition in the early hours, was offset by a beautiful crisp morning. An English Breakfast, Argentina style, for Dean and pancakes for Fred set us up for a day of Thermal bathing. Our camp dogs greeted us warmly, even more so when the left over chorizo and pancakes came their way. Keepy uppys kept him occupied until the 10am opening, when we had to make the 50 meter journey across the yard. The Termas was vast, including a mile long river that circled a fountain and wave pool. Indoors we moved between near boiling to freezing pools, joined by all ages. Yet again Fred became a mascot for school kids on a day out. Blonde hair and blue eyes earning a celebrity status, and wherever we went we were greeted with shouts of “Frreeeed”. We lasted 6 hours of water filled fun, by which time I think there was more dead skin than water in the baths….!
A campfire dinner with the dogs set us up for our Mendoza to Santiago trip, thankfully the midnight chorus was less invasive, or we had learnt to tune it out.
We’d already done the journey by bus a month before, but setting off from a different start point brought us past stunning winery’s before we began climbing to the 4,000m border. The road was yet another joyful route for the first hour, taking us past powerful broad rapids that fed into stunning lakes, that we had not seen before. We then joined the final road to the border which we had taken before on our bus crossing. It was a quick and easy journey through The Andes, and we marveled at the engineering that had carved it out. An ancient disused railway accompanied us, a relic of the 1800s, with occasional abandoned train stations in the midst of ghost towns. After 2 hours we hit the tailback of traffic waiting to cross the border. Dean made us sandwiches and we enjoyed the scenery, snow all around us, until after an hour and a half we got to the front of the queue and parked up. We all trooped in, desperate for the bathroom, to do the 5 step crossing process. All our papers stamped eventually we joined the wait for our car to be searched for fruit by sniffer dogs. Relieved of not only fruit, which we had declared, the Chilean food agency also made off with our Salami, Tomatoes and everything we had bought for dinner that night. Our crossing had taken 2 hours, but we were just delighted to be across and set off for the switchback hairpins that would drop us down the other side. Fred acted as a very able co-driver, warning me of upcoming bends using Maps.me, whilst Dean reclined in the back of the van exhausted by the whole experience, chuntering about what Brexit would mean for our European holidays!
We had found a campsite in Los Andes at a restaurant, an hour outside of Santiago, for our final stop. The sun shone brightly as we pulled into ‘El Sauce’. They were delighted to have us, their only camping guests, but warned us that a big party was on for that night in the vast function room. We were invited to join, which was rather tempting, until we discovered that it was 10pm until 6am. We thanked them and declined, knowing full well that by 10pm we would be very ready for bed. We set the van up and then moved to the terrace of the restaurant for a couple of restorative Pisco Sours. They were made by the owner, in his 70s, and were wonderful, topped off with Angustura Bitters which was a first. We are quite the connoisseurs now. The cheery Chef offered to make us dinner at 7pm, a small version of his fare for the party that night. As dinner time neared we were called in to see him preparing an array of meats on his indoor BBQ that would have rivalled that of Henry VIII. Just as it was ready he moved our meats, piled artfully, onto a mini BBQ that would sit on our table. White coals sat beneath the silver serving dish, with the silver top keeping the moisture in. It was a stunning meal; homemade black pudding sausage, belly pork, prime steak ribs, lamb cutlets and large buttered potatoes all cooked on the BBQ. It was accompanied by homemade corn bread rolls, a piquant salsa, salted butter, and a mixed salad of every vegetable you could imagine, including delicious artichoke. By the time we had finished eating the large family of the owner had started to arrive. Martin, an 8 year old grandson, quickly found Fred and they set off to play football on the pitch by our van. We polished off the bottle of local red, chosen by our waiter, until the boys were ready for an ice cream sundae. Full tummies, with Fred worn out by an array of games, meant we were ready for bed before the party started. We drifted off quickly. The traditional Chilean band entered our dreams and we woke in the early hours listening to the fun sounds of 200 people making the most of their Sunday morning. Unlike the thumping boom boxes of rap and rave music, we rather enjoyed the band, drifting in and out of sleep, enjoying the party vicariously without having to leave our bed. Amazingly, when we woke at 8am in the morning, there was not a car left in the car park. Everyone had driven home, and we very much doubted any of the drivers had stuck to Agua con Gas that night. Sunday morning was not a time to be on the road anywhere near Los Andes.
In preparation for dropping off the van the next day, we set about emptying and cleaning it top to bottom. It was a fun day as we pottered through the chores, grateful for the use of the hosepipe provided by El Sauce and the fact that I’d bought a bottle of bleach early in our trip. Martin had come back with his mother and Fred passed another fun day speaking pigeon English and Spanish, granted a pass on helping out. With the van gleaming we rewarded ourselves with a move to the terrace and our final Piscos. By now we were best of friends with the Chef, waiter, and owner, and we were joined by Paula, Martin’s mother. It turned out she was a psychologist working with children in schools and was very excited to learn that Dean was in the same field of work. We managed quite a deep conversation about different schools of therapy, and differing international approaches, using a linguistic mix of English, Spanish and French, helped by the fact that many key words in this field retain their Greek origins. We retired to cook our final camping dinner, with details exchanged so Paula could stay in touch with Dean and connect with international colleagues.
The morning was beautiful and we set off, saying goodbye to the dogs on the site. Fred donated his old trainers to ‘Chico’ who had made them a firm favorite, constantly stealing them from the van. We worked our way through the countryside into Santiago, negotiating the traffic and one way systems, arriving at Wicked Campers with a heavy heart, tears already welling in my eyes at least. With paperwork over Fred and I headed back out to the service yard for a last goodbye. We couldn’t help but lie ourselves against his psychedelic panels and give him a kiss. Over the last month he had taken us through rivers, up gravel mountain passes, bounced over cobbled roads, sweltered through the desert, and snuggled us down. It was because of Stan that my view of Argentina had shifted. Able to get out of the cities into the back lanes and small villages we had found another country. Love for Stan had been instant and justified. With Argentina, it needed a second date and a search for a different side to the big cities. We resolved that we would come back for more and tackle the south, both Chile and Argentina, definitely in a camper, and hopefully re-united with Stan!
Before our mammoth 14 hour overnight flight, also losing 14 hours in time difference, we returned to our hostel favorite, The Princesa Insolente Hostel in Santiago. We got a warm welcome and Fred joined some backpackers in a table football game. Having spent the last few days clearing up left overs and emergency rations, we had the best fast food ever at Fuente Mardoque a stunning retro Chacarero bar (Chacarero’s are the Chilean alternative to burgers); lashings of layered thin steak, smothered in salad, jalapeno’s, mayonnaise, avocado, cheese etc. Washed down with Sprite, it took us an hour to wade our way through. Sensibly we went to sleep alcohol free and with very full bellies.
Our cab picked us up and we had the chattiest of drivers, who spoke no English. Nevertheless, as we have become expert at, we all got to know a lot about each other regardless of language barriers. We had had the most wonderful South American adventure, most of our pleasures coming from unexpected places. The dogs, the wildlife, the landscape, the people, the food, the drink, hot springs, golden beaches, the list goes on and on. I’ve learnt not to judge a place and its people at the first pass, but take a step back and explore a little deeper. We move onto Asia and India knowing that its small towns and villages and not the cities we want to dwell in. The dogs have stolen our hearts in South America above all else. As we embark on our next legs, except the short 10 sojourn in Australia, I have no doubt that hanging onto our hearts will remain a challenge. We loved Brazil and Chile in an instant, Argentina was a slow burn, but I’ll definitely be back for more; next time a bit of southern comfort.
For me this trip is all about having a great adventure with my family. Its taken years for us to finally stop talking about it and do it - simply because it both excites and frightens the life out me! So I'm stepping out of corporate life, where I singularly failed to achieve a work/life balance....to experience different cultures and spend time with those I love xx