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Punta Arenas, Chile

Waking up at 5am and setting off to the bus station ready to go to Punta Arenas, which we were told by the hostel worker “Is so beautiful”, was not an easy task. We first had to collect one set of tickets to Rio Gallegos and then the next for the journey from there to Chile. However, the latter service desk was not open until 9:30am…fantastic! Ever the optimist, Kate reassured me all would be well and we could surely collect at Rio Gallegos, since we had paid for them. So off we headed in the mini bus through deep snow covered roads to the bus terminal in Rio Gallegos.

Upon arrival at the bus terminal (2 hours earlier than expected) I really had to dig deep for enough Spanish to explain the situation to the man at the bus desk. Unfortunately there was nothing he could do as he had no record of our names and he recommended I ask at the information desk, which opened in 5 minutes. Just to be safe I checked that there were seats available on the bus in case we had to repurchase and was told yes. So I go off to the information desk and in awful Spanish explain the situation, only to be looked at like I was from some other planet and informed there was nothing they could do. Meanwhile Kate was on the phone to the hostel, who had booked the tickets for us, and explaining our dilemma at the fact they failed to advise us of the agency being closed at the time of our departure, to which she was met with “It’s a really bad line…what do you expect me to do about it? Oh you are breaking up…” NICE!
So I saunter back over to the ticket desk ready to just sacrifice some more cash to buy another set of tickets only to be informed that they had now all been sold…in five minutes!??!!
The prospect of a night in Rio Gallegos was dawning upon us, and it wasn’t a great one. A woman who spoke some English advised that we could always wait and ask the bus driver if he will let us on. So we settled in upstairs in the café for a 3 hour wait until the bus was due to leave. After about half an hour the same woman reappeared and said she was going to have to drive to Punta Arenas and did we want a lift? She looked innocent enough so we agreed. Her plan was to go back and wash her hair (random) and then come back for us in an hour and a half. Ten minutes before she turned up, however, old mate from the ticket desk comes up stairs with two tickets in his hand, claiming that he had spoken to the agency and all was good; we were on the bus. Now we had to prepare to tell the woman.
Eventually we go downstairs to meet her and she turns up in an awesome pick up truck with her hair all done. I explain the situation to which she goes a little bit psycho and doesn’t understand how we got tickets. She grabs the tickets from my hands and marches into the bus terminal, pushing right past the queues and starts shouting at the man behind the desk. He explains the situation, clearly better than I did, and she then says she can get us a refund so do we want to go with her or the bus? As much as I would have liked the adventure, her previous psycho rage was not sitting well with me so I decided that we would get the bus, to which she pulled out an angelic smile and said “Buen Viaje!”.

Off she drove and not long after our bus rocks up; absolutely heaving, smelly and stuffy as hell. After an hour or so we arrive at the border crossing, only to see our little friend with papers in hand getting into her truck and driving off. Hmmmm a silly decision we thought, especially since we then had a further hour and a half at the border control. By the time we were pulling out of there she was probably sat with her feet up having a cup of tea with her mum.

And so we arrive in Punta Arenas that evening (most definitely not ‘beautiful’) and off to our hostel. We ring on the doorbell…no answer; we ring again, and again and again! Clearly no one is home…hmmm so off we head in the dark with our bags 14 hours after we had left this morning in search of a place to stay, Beady eye Kate spots a hostel not far off and although it was pretty pricey we were able to get a room to ourselves with what turned out to be the comfiest beds we had slept in. The next few days were spent doing not much as everything was pretty much closed, it was freezing and wet and really wasn’t much to do there…and so we made our own fun making exercise videos!

A lot of red wine, king crab (local delicacy) and yummy food later the time came for us to depart :( – Kate to catch her flight to Santiago and then New York, and me to get another day long bus trip to Ushuaia. In typical me style I was so upset about leaving I spent the whole night before and morning of departure on the toilet!!

I find it too sad to write about as it is the end of an era in many ways :( Kate has been such a massive part of my life for the past couple of years and such an amazing friend and travel companion. We have had so many amazing adventures and laughs together and now we have no idea when we will see each other next, hopefully Australia in February at the latest. Kate is such a life lover, who always looks on the positive side of things. I do not know anyone as energetic, focused, crazy and fun as her…which is why she is such a great travel buddy. Kate’s outlook on life is infectious and inspiring! Thankfully we have locked in some trips for our 40th, 50th and 60th birthdays (as well as one’s for 35th, 45th and 55th teehee). She is now back finishing off her adventures in Dubai and getting ready to move back to Australia and I am starting another travelling adventure on my own and then with Andy.

Sad, sad day, but so lucky to have met my soul sister! xxx

 

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