Lunch and war talk

13th December 2012 by Helen

For us it had been a late night last night, with supper of cheese and ham rolls at midnight, but everyone else here works to the routine of siesta – not mad dogs and Englishmen!  Which meant everyone else was up and out at work by the time we woke up!  Oops.  Even so Graciela invited us to stay for lunch.  We nipped out quickly to post a couple of letters and make the final phone calls we needed to make before returning to be treated to an amazing lunch of various cuts of beef and sausages cooked on the open fire by Hector, served with tomatoes and lettuce.  The conversation flowed and even survived a political discussion on the Malvinas (aka Falklands to the British).

Not far to Ushuaia then!

By late afternoon it was time for us to be on the move again, if we are to make it to our various destinations of Santiago before Christmas and Peurto Montt before the middle of January.  We said our goodbyes and hit Ruta 60 and then Ruta 40, almost reaching Puerto Alegra when we spotted a campsite just off the road, down in the dry river bed of the valley, just before the sun was going down.  The road had been pretty good tarmac (aka pavement or asphalt) most of the way, with just a bit of the road over the mountains reverting to lightly corrugated dirt track, but even that is ‘under construction’ and improvement.  In little over four hours we’d covered a pretty impressive 262 kilometres.

It’s getting exciting now.  Apart from our detour toSantiagoto visit family in England in July, this is now the furthest south the expedition has reached.  Tonight we are camped on latitude 29.41906.  Our second antipodean point is just south of Puerto Montt and we expect to be there either in early January or late February.

It’s hard to believe it is only 12 days to Christmas.  In Tinogasta we saw plenty of shops selling Christmas decorations but few of the shops have any decorations up.  Those that do have only maybe one or two small decorations.  So unlike what we were used to in England.  Our first Christmas on the road was in the US, where houses, shops and shopping malls were lavishly decorated, and we saw huge municipal decorations lining the roads of Montana.  Our second Christmas on the road was in Central America, in Yalo in Ecuador.  There Christmas was low key, with just a couple of houses with visible decorations in the window, few shops even selling decorations or wrapping paper and only one or two shops with a Christmas tree (such as in the DIY store in Sigchos), and Christmas Day seemed like a normal day with people working in their allotments or caring for their animals, and the café was open as usual.  There seem to be more decorations on sale in the shops in Chile and Argentina than we saw in Ecuador, and I guess it might be a bit more commercialised as we near Santiago in the last week before Christmas.

I think it’s fair to say that we are both delighted to be away from the commercialisation and consumerist fervour of Christmas.  We don’t have the space or the desire to spend unnecessarily on largely unwanted products just for the sake of it.  Although (irritatingly for Paul) I do enjoy looking in the shop windows at all the brightly coloured stuff on sale.  I guess we might treat ourselves to a nice bottle of wine, and possibly a meal in a nice restaurant to celebrate the beginning of another New Year.  It’s been fun making and putting together a few decorations for Landy, which are now ready and waiting to be put up on Christmas Day and whenever we are stationary around that time.  What I don’t yet know is where we will be for our third Christmas and New Year on the road?  Guess it’s a case of watch this space!

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