MacWool Tour: Down to business

Wool mill and farm visit in Punta Arenas 

I know you are all dying to know if all the luggage has caught up to us. Well after sitting of the tarmac and back in the terminal of Santiago airport for several hours after our plane was turned back with issues. We eventually landed at almost 8:15 pm some 8 hours after our 3 hour flight was due to leave Santiago.  So wearily we headed for baggage claim hoping the rest of the bags (the ones we still had) were there. As we rounded the corner there they were, the long lost bags last seen leaving Sydney 3 days ago, so with much excitement and enthusiastic greetings they were claimed by the
owners (with exception of Chris Martin’s and Charlotte Blake’s, yet to be located, their bags are believed to have run away to join the circus.). 

Still no sign of the bags we loaded in Santiago…but with relief they too started to roll around on carousel number 2. With everyone quite excited especially those looking forward to getting into clean clothes for first time in days we boarded the coach and due to the delay we headed straight the pre arranged dinner with couple people from the wool industry who had been patiently waiting for us. Thank goodness for private room in the very fancy Sofito’s seafood restaurant as we were all looking a bit travel weary and worse for wear.  

As soon as the pisco sours (what is a pisco sour I hear you ask – PISCO SOUR – popular Chilean

cocktail. Ingredients: pisco, lemon juice and sugar, one egg white, sugar – shaken together.) and Calafate Sour (Liquor Calafate Patagonia. fresh lemon juice, ice,1 egg white, powdered sugar) started flowing we forgot our scruffy state and settled in for an very good seafood meal and much laughter about the events for the previous three days.

With all our trouble behind us we are ready to really get started on our tour. 
 The late start to dinner meant another late finish to the day and it was almost midnight when we checked in with the knowledge we needed to be breakfasted and on the bus by 8:30am for a full day ahead.

We have been averaging 15-16 hour days so far…

Off we go to Standard Wools

Despite the 3rd late night in a row everyone was down in plenty of time for departure, a couple of early birds even got to walk around Punta Arenas before breakfast. 

Our first stop was at Standard Wools.  We were made very welcomed and began our tour.  

The first thing we all noticed was that wool is packed in plastic packs and tied with wire or in some cases strapping. We were provided with us lots of information regarding the wool types and shearing programs etc. Most shearing

in the area is done pre-lamb in September with some in December
and January, the wool store is currently full of wool which be processed over the coming year.

The group asked many questions which were all comprehensively answered and the information was interesting and gave a better understanding of wool growing in the

area. The selling of wool is different to our auction system. The mills negotiable with the grower to purchase the wool based on the weight and micron provided by the grower or results of testing in New Zealand (costly) or in house testing at Standard Mills.  The mill reserves the right to

re weigh and retest any wool.  As the clips are often poorly prepared prices are offered as an average price across the whole clip.

This while not sounding ideal seems to work well enough.  The hour and half we spent at standard

wool disappeared quickly and we finished our visit with a group photo taken by our guide Ivan (who will be with us for next 6-7 days and is getting more sleep than in months as a new father to 5 month olds twins)

Visiting Estancia Josefina  

An hour and half down the road we turned into Estancia Josefina owned by Hugo Vera who breeds Dohne’s and is a Dohne stud. 

This farm has a strong relationship with the Macquarie Dohne Stud in Australia.  We were warmly welcomed to the homestead by Hugo Vera (Owner) and Daniel (Manager).  

Hugo gave an interesting presentation on Estancia Josefina with very interesting facts and figures on his estancia and their breeding programs. 

The presentation concluded with the arrival of pisco sours and Calafate Sour which just the beginning of a very extensive lunch which included dainty open sandwiches a wide variety of empanadas lamb meatballs and the regulation ceviche which was so delicious and it was noted that many of us had a second serve. 

All this was washed down with an excellent red wine and champagne.  Little thought was given at the time to the reasonable high flight of steps we had to negotiate to leave the farm house.  All down safely!!!
Lunch concluded with promises of catching up again with Hugo and Daniel when they come to Australia later in the year before everyone gravitated to the woodshed for a look around. 

The shed was filled with more plastic bales of wool from neighbouring farms, three farms use the eight stand Josefina shed for their shearing.  

Before we headed back to the bus a gaucho that had been out working rode up on his horse tied up his dogs before coming over to give a us great opportunity to have a look at his saddle (all made by hand by him during the long winter nights) the horse was a sturdy unshod grey mare. They only shoe horses in winter. The shoes have special steel toes to grip in the ice to stop them slipping.  After a group photo with the gaucho and his mare we were headed back to the bus.  

Some of the men headed over to the AI shed for a look most of us stayed near bus (we did realise at time that where they were headed, we thought they were wandering off for another reason). Goodbye’s were exchanged with promises to show Hugo and Daniel around when they come to Australian later this year.

On the road again!!!

Another gauche at work
Been around since ’29
Back on the bus for our 6 hour drive to Torres Del Paine national park and our home for the next three days in the amazing Hotel Rio Serrano. 

Amazing view from here
Long way from ‘The Marra’ 
The drive was long but uneventful (given events of recent days) and with one comfort and refreshment break at Hotel Posada Rio Rubens and another at Puerto Natales (where we board our cruise in 3 days time)
Breathtaking views from hotel

Boys stocked up on Chilean Pesos and liquid supplies while the bus driver fuelled up for the last 3 hours on dirt road up into the mountains to our resort.

Waking up to this
Really at 11pm going to bed!!!
The buffet dinner that greeted us made the 6 plus hours on the bus worth every minute.  The array of foods was extensive and everyone ate their fill before turning in (although I think there a few that partied on a bit, it after all was there first real opportunity to do so)

Tomorrow is hiking in the national park for most but Sharpy and I are taking a rest day so I can catch up on some work, this blog and sort out some of the technical issues some travellers are having with their devices.
In conclusion Day 4 has turned out to be a great day, it didn’t have much competition in the best day stakes. At least it was filled with all highlights and the lowlights are well behind us now…

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