Buenos Aires Iguazu Falls and flying home….and the trip in review

Another day doing the rounds of of town, again the group split into smaller groups some of the girls decided to do Blue loop on the Hop on Hop off bus before meeting up with another group  at the art museum.  The blue route was interesting and gave us a chance to see the university, the amazing Río

Salado river which is as wide as a lake. The river is about 290 kilometres (180 mi) long, and it widens from about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) at its source to about 220 kilometres (140 mi) at its mouth. It forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

After lunch the boys arrived at the hotel and after bit re sorting of the rooms everyone settled in for the remainder of our time in this amazing city. The girls were keen to show the boys around a bit before everyone made their own arrangements for dinner.

Next morning it was of to Arundu saddle shop, coffee  at Labiela under enormous fig tree  and a visit to the extensive and somewhat creepy Recoleta Cemetery however this is not a normal cemetery.

It is a spectacular mausoleum filled with breathtaking sculptures, carvings and of course, Evita’s grave. It is well worth spending a morning at this FREE attraction.

Most couples did their own thing during the afternoon and came back together with group for dinner at nearby Barbarobar tapas restaurant, the food was good and of course true to form Colin produced novelty the now what has become expected novelty gags to the amusement of the whole group.

The following morning it was an early start for every as the group was splitting up most going to Iguazu falls and 5 going to Uruguay.  The group that went Uruguay travel by ferry and visited Montivideo, walked a lot, attended a concert and had a great steak dinner by all accounts.

The two and half hour flight was uneventful and we landed in the tiny airport not falls and from our hotel. After a quick check in to our spectacular falls view rooms we headed off to our first viewing of these magnificent falls, it was a fair walk out to the devil’s throat but worth every step to see this wonder of the world.

The last part of our day was climbing down a godzillion steps to board a our boat ride under the falls.  If we were climbing out the same way many of us had concluded we may just have stay down at rivers edge forever… Fortunately after an amazing ride under the falls where most of us got wet and the Elder’s got absolutely drenched it was a pleasant ride down river to leave the boat at place that meant an easier climb out, a few of us very relieved to collapse into out seat on back of trick for ride back to hotel.  Everyone made own arrangements for dinner.

Those going to Brazilian side of the falls had to be down stairs early the next morning. The rest of us had a lovely lie in followed by a very leisurely breakfast while waiting to set off to airport to meet the others and fly back to Buenos Aires for our last night in town.

The final dinner was festive occasion with so much food and good wine flowing, we were last to leave the restaurant and it was a good thing that our flight home wasn’t until 2pm.


The group were all pleased to be heading home and gathered in the foyer for the last bus to the airport with loads of time to spare..

It was good of our guide Horta to bring his family along to meet us before helping us get to the airport.

 The flight home were uneventful, with one last pisco sour at ‘The Last Pisco Sour’ bar in Santiago during our layover.

We arrived home mid morning and were all pleased that this time so did all our bags. after saying our goodbyes it was smoothly through customs and another successful MacWool tour was done and dusted.

The group were very travel weary but with a little time at home and on reflection everyone realise the number of amazing places and people that made up our what a wonderful trip this has been.

Trip in review…..for the travel crew:

Videos:
The videos from various parts of the trip.
Please make sure you are on wifi when viewing as they will use fair amount of data.

Each video is between 10 and 15 minutes.  Please click here to order a dvd  if you prefer.

1. Flying in, Santiago and Vino Casa del Bosque Chile
2. Punta Arenas, Wool Mill, Farm and Torres de Paine
3. Cruising on the Skorpios III
4. Border Crossing, Calafate, our last glacier and a farm visit
5. Río Gallegos, Puerto San Julián, more farms and hospitality
6. Puerto St Julian, El Coronel then on to Comodora
7. Comodoro Show Rivadavia, Chubut
8. Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Flying Home

Full dinner dance movie

Play all videos at once from here

Photos:
All the raw still photos – you can download those you would like to keep .  If you would these on memory stick please click here to order.

Downloading these photos: Either download individual photos or download all option
email me on cabowman302@gmail.com if you need help with downloading

MacWool Tour Photos Part 1

MacWool Tour Photos Part 2

MacWool Tour Photos Part 3

Buenos Aires (girls) and Estancia Los Manantiales (boys)

The girl’s day….
The girls first full day in Buenos Aires started with a breakfast in the hotel before various groups formed organically to head to all parts of this amazing city.  




There was a group who decided on the Hop on Hop off bus to make their way to the Aranda saddlery, four floors of leather goods clothing and jewellery. Some purchases were made but other decided to wait until we could bring the boys back the next day.  Another group jumped in a taxi and headed for  Palermo SoHo which is recognised shopping area with shopping on their mind to kick off their day. Palermo SoHo is vibrant area of the bohemian sub-barrio Palermo Viejo sits between the streets Santa Fé, Coronel Diaz, Córdoba and Juan B. Justo. This is one of the trendier parts of Palermo (along with Palermo Hollywood) and a favorite haunt of backpackers, hipsters and designers. It is home to lazy, tree-lined cobblestone streets where new businesses continue to spring up in the old Spanish-style houses and converted warehouses.

Most of us met for coffee at the historical Cafe La Biela, it started operation more than 150 years ago 

 in what is now the magnificent Recoleta neighborhood, just a few houses (no mansions or palaces), the convent belonging to the monks Recoletos and a beautiful Church. In years gone by this was the waterhole of professional drivers, fans of car races, gentlemen, actors and politicians. We sat at the tables were beneath the biggest Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla) I have ever seen. The plague showed date of 1791 but the tree is said to be around 150 years old and if this is case this tree has seen a lot.

Then a third group, after coffee catch up set off walked all over the city but saw much and enjoyed getting to know this place.
Our group continued on the bus loop until later in the afternoon stopping off at the pink palace and the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral which was an amazing building in itself, such a feeling of sanctuary when you step inside away from the hustle, bustle and protesters across the street. Photos don’t do it justice but it sure was time well spent wandering around inside

before finding the most interesting Spanish Museum, but the biggest find of all was the restaurant in the gardens out the back serving the coldest Gin and tonic’s and a magnificat cheese board. This was just perfect, we rested our(my) tired legs.  







Our recovery complete it was decided that we grab a taxi and head to La Bomba de Tiempo a rave that Comodoro Show judge’s wife gave us the heads up about.  
Flying along in a taxi to parts unknown in the city there was some doubt if we were doing the right thing but in for a penny in for a pound.  When we arrived in a back street with a queue down the street we decided to see how long it took for the line to move and decide if we would stay. 

Well the line moved very quickly and in no time at all we were inside an old warehouse with open roof and wall to wall people, we pushed and burrowed our way to the middle of the throng, looking slightly out of place (this was aged related factor) but those around us were fun loving and we felt very safe at all times.  


A little about the group –  La Bomba de Tiempo is a percussion ensemble that practises improvisation with signs. Every show is unique and unrepeatable because its music is generated live on stage through the dialogue between musicians and director, who leads the improvisation using a code of more than 70 signs made with the hands. 
Every performance becomes a magical time when percussionists on stage interact with the audience while this one brings its energy, dancing and listening. It all creates a true ritual of rhythm and percussion. Click here for more information http://www.labombadetiempo.com/en
The beer was sold in litre plastic cups but the line was 50 minutes long to buy one, we borrowed a prop from a Canadian guy near us for photography purposes, we didn’t have our water as it was confiscated at the bag check on the way in, water taken but i did have 6 inch carving knife in bottom of my bag which was over looked. A fact I didn’t realise until we inside and well under the spell of the rhythm.
For these three ‘not as young as we used to be girls’ this will go down as one of our most memorable times in South America.  No we were not the oldest attendees we saw another lady who was oder than us getting right into the dancing in true South American style, she had coerced her daughter into bringing her and she was loving every minute of it..
We staggered tiredly home around 11pm smelling distinctly of strange smelling smoke, opening smoked by everyone at the venue.
A full day for everyone with lots shopping, good food and laughter. Tomorrow we wait for the boys to fly in with a few more outings circuit on the blue bus followed by visit to art museum.
The boy’s day….

Mid morning boys climbed back their bus and headed to
Estancia Los Manantiales for lunch and afternoon hosted by Ruben Alonso (Manager Estancia Los Manantiales)

Ruben and the stud master had put together a very good presentation next rams and commercial rams for everyone to pore over and compare with their own sheep.




Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day and rolled back on the bus after much food and beverages. The sharing of ideas and new friendships were the order of the day. Tonight was the last night with Michael and Charlotte Blake as they were headed back to the family farm. 



The boys decided to take them out to a farewell dinner so another late night ensured but 

The boys were very appreciative of the welcome and efforts Ruben and the staff went to to host them for the day and will remember the day for a long time.

 Sorry bit short on detail, I haven’t had a chance to get Sharpy to provide more information. This will be added here later…


Saying goodbye to Skorpios III and Border Crossing to Argentina

8:30 left ship. But the big news The bag missing since we left Sydney was on the bus. Chris Martin was one happy man. Uneventful drive to Chile border apart from learning on our arrival that we now

had three extra bags on the bus. Apparently an Indian family saw us putting our bags out at the designated time and thought they should too, the crew efficiently loaded them all in the bus with ours.  We have net result of bags at the moment of 3+ ( they were found by the driver and sent back on next but going to Porto Natales) 

After 20 minutes in the gift shop we and quick passport check were set off in no man’s land for a few miles. 
Neither in Chile or in Argentina we arrived at Argentinian border crossing at 10:30am.  
Ivan our guide anticipated we would have to queue for two hours. At 2:45pm (4+hours) the last of our group were processed. It was a long wait standing in line in a shack in middle of nowhere with toilet facilities no water and no food. The haphazard queen was a mess until Jill Christine and few of the ladies got it sorted out. 



Henry and Grant made sure there were no queue jumpers, Peter was pronounced Mr Organised for having the foresight to bring his book and the girls just had to cross their legs but the boys ventured out the back for relief but this required a degree of skill to avoid those who had been before them. 


The rest of us shuffled forward a few steps at a time. Any wonder we could resist the urge to cheer after hearing that stamp bang down and leave the window (after a 30 second stay) Four hours to get to the window and processed within seconds and away. One guy processing Chile to Argentina and One guy (with hardly a person at the window) Argentina to Chile. 
The first food place was some 1 hour 30 minutes down the road. The toilet facilities were worse than none at all but the sandwiches were okay although expensive. Back on the bus for the final 2 hour run into Calafate. Here for two nights.

After a very slick bag drop at Hotel Koi Aiken then  it was off to the ice bar in El Calafate for most of the group. Another new experience for most luckily everyone was able to get some sleep on the bus after at roadhouse along the way (some highway robbery was evident during the purchase of a quick lunch)

Another late dinner of what turned out to be tasty chicken and very large potato wedges, true to form not a veggie in sight. Everyone turned in quickly after dinner as is becoming the new normal it was after 11pm. The bus pick up was 7.45am for our final visit to a glacier followed by visit and dinner on a Estancia (farm) tomorrow night 

A very wet and very windy day cruising


Each morning the dolphins escorted and played in the water at the bow of the boat. 

During breakfast we arrived a the Montanas Fjord, from where the four glaciers can be viewed as they slide down the Sarmiento mountains to the sea. 


At 9.30am everyone donned additional layers before braving very wet and icy conditions to visit the Alsina Glacier, excursion on boats to explore the small bay and its glacier, and the enormous mountains surrounding. 


At 10.30am the braves souls returned to the Skorpios III to the boat wet and cold and were quickly wrapping their hands around something warm, coffee and hot chocolate proved popular. We continued sailing Montanas Fjord to Bernal Glacier 



11.15am The numbers had dwindled considerable at next disembarkation point in the glacier and hike in small native forest. 







After that, it was intended that walk across a small pathway (unfortunately due to the rain and warm weather of recent days the path was under water), so there was no was crossing to a small glacier hiking to the face of the glacier. 





Here everyone could appreciate and feel the iceberg and admire the melting ice stage.


\

12.45am Returned to the ship which will be in the fresh-water supply phase getting from a natural cascade. This water is used for the services on board.

Lunch was welcome soup was first course and it the spot.



Most people rested up during the evening

The day concluded with the Captains dinner where our crew dance the night away and Henry and Christine taking the captain and his mother for a turn around the floor.

First full day cruising on Skorpios III

After and reasonably restful night for most and not so good for some we gathering in the dining room for breakfast. 


It was adequate without being lavish and most people seemed to enjoy.


Not long after breakfast we arrived at the Amalia Glacier, with panoramic views from the ship. 

Then with everyone all bundled up it was into the small boats for a short ride to a nearby beach, hiking through the beach to viewpoint at the Amalia Glacier face. 

This was our first of many up close experiences with a glacier. it was amazing and we all felt so far from anywhere. Getting the group photos proved a little problematic but it was eventually taken with the beautiful Amalia Glacier as a backdrop.  




We spent plenty of time just soaking in this amazing once in a lifetime experience watching the ice towers fall into the water. Well hearing then seeing the last of the ice disappearing below the surface with a splash, By time you hear the sound the ice has already fallen. 


After lunch we arrived at the El Brujo Glacier and it back in the small boat to stand on nearby rock for closer view of the glacier. 


Later in the day we arrived at the Calvo Fjord, for an excursion on the ‘ Capitan Constantino’ icebreaker appropriate to navigate between the ice. We visited the Fernando, Captain Constantino and Alipio glaciers, among others. During this cruise the crew prepared us all scotch on the rock using 3000 year old ice from glacier this sure warmed us up and the souvenir glass was a nice touch. 

Back on board before sailing towards Montanas Fjord while we had pre dinner pisco sours and dinner.


MacWool Tour: Another day of walking in Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine Park

Up and at ’em very very slowly for another day in the national park. At 8:45 (departure 9 am) there were only 5 of the group ready to board. The rest of the group trickled out a within a few minutes either side of departure time. 


We were off … at the what seems like 20kms per hour. Patricio certainly was looking after the gear on the not so badly corrugated road. I guess given his investment in the coach it was definitely in best interest to do so. Jill Elder decided that she stay behind and sample some the resort services and be the single handed welcome home committee. 


So putting along at 20 and rarely touching the mind blowing speed of practically 30kms for and hour or so saw us in the east side of the park. We scrambled off and readied ourselves for today’s 1.5 hour walk to glacier viewing platform. 


A way we go cross the swing bridge 6 at a time. The wind with some help from the stirrers in group had the bridge really swinging at times. Luckily we had bundled Sharpy on with first group and he was halfway across before he realised what going on.  A little concerned if I could get him to make the return journey over the rushing water in windy conditions a couple hours later.

A brisk walk through forest before emerging onto the river bank of deep fine shifty pebbles for what seemed like never ending walk across the pebble bank in middle of the lake. This proved to be a very difficult waking surface.e. My first glimpse of an iceberg that had broken away from the glacier and was probably very very old.

On reaching the far side the group started up the other side to find the viewing platform. Three of us felt that we could see enough from here and decided starting back would help us to get back at same time as the leaders making the return journey.

Simon and Rosalie took the blue ribbon for first back but Kerrie Macdonald certainly earned a special mention for jogging back to be sure that she wasn’t last back today. It was a sight to behold of Kerrie running across the swing bridge with Frank and Henry jogging behind her – that certainly got it swinging and how they kept their feet under themselves I will never know.

Packed lunch boxes at the picnic tables were welcome before we made to long slow ride home. We were welcomed home by a very fresh and relaxed looking Jill. Another good day that ended with drink outside the bar looking at the mountains of course most conversation was around lambing percentages best times to shear how the wool market was this week etc.

You can take these folk away to a foreign land but their hearts are still well and truly at home. Tomorrow caves and boarding Skorpios lll for next 3 nights.

Now these are spurs

 We most likely be offline for the next four days while cruising the glaciers

MacWool Tour: Torres del Paine National Park


During the trip various members of the party are going to contribute to this blog today’s post is with thanks to Christine White
Photos with thanks to Christine and Simon Hunt 


Torres del Paine Park

Whilst Ange and Sharpy were having some down time back at the Rio Serrano enjoying the comfy couches and panoramic views, the rest of the crew headed off to the Torres del Paine National Park to explore the magnificent peaks up closer.  



Little did we realise that at an average speed of 20km/hour, the half hour bus trip took an hour and a half with a few scenic lookout stops along the way.  Patricio loved being part of the MacWool Farmers Tour group sporting one of the MacWool caps, but it didn’t speed his driving up.  


Being the hottest day in 5 years, the air conditioning struggled to keep up, as we oohed and ahhed over the sights. In fact I’m sure it was the first time the air conditioning had ever been turned on to ‘cool’. 

Lunch was by a waterfall, with a few game enough to test their cold tolerance by plunging their hand into the ice cold glacial waters. 40 seconds was the record, but most lasted barely 10.





We even managed to squeeze in a viewing of some more sheep as there is an Estancia in the middle of the National Park that we drove through, although they were panting hard in the heat wave conditions of 25 degrees C.


The group finally had their chance to stride out on a hike past another waterfall, a scenic lake and a close up view of the rugged peaks of Torres del Paine.  We struck one of the clearest days of the year, so the views were spectacular.  A few even clambered up to the top of a small peak to yell out a cooeeeeee for all below.


Back on the bus for the looooong sloowww trip back to the Rio Serrano, we stopped by a cafe for a few roadies to cool down.  

Ange and Sharpy were there to greet us on our return, and the evening drinks turned into a fun night of eating and drinking Chilean beers and wines.  





Our guide Ivan
A little room party

Our wine loving host, Ivan, suggested to us that the Chilean way of palate cleansing after your meal was to down a glass of Fernet (pronounced with a rolled ‘r’ as Ferrrrrrrr-nay).  Well, 30 glasses were lined up at the bar courtesy of Chris Martin, and we were all expected to down the mysterious Chilean liqueur.  It tasted like cough syrup.  

A well rested Sharpy

Most couldn’t get to the bar fast enough to wash their mouths out with a cool refreshing Patagonian beer (the preferred Aussie palate cleanser).  The rest gagged.  Only Ivan gleefully downed glass after glass of the pungent brew, praising the wonders of Chilean wines and liqueurs.  












The one common effect was that all were going to be very slow the next morning.

More photos will be added here after we leave cruise.

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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MacWool Tour 2016 – Flying and Santiago


Getting there…

Surprisingly all travellers are still in good spirits despite so many hiccups in the first few days. All started when we started to arrive at Kingsford Smith to see that our LAN 800 flight had been cancelled between Sydney and Auckland. 
The saga begins… on check in we were advised that LAN airlines had chartered a
plane to get us to Auckland to meet LAN 800. After a delay, being bused to the plane and few other minor frustrations we were on our way. 
Arrival in Auckland saw us climb aboard another bus to the terminal before a 30 minute walk then through security again to find our gate. 

What could be next, a passenger (not one of our group) got lost in the airport so after waiting for what seemed like forever we had to wait a further 20 minutes while the ground crew located and unloaded the luggage of the ‘no show’.

We were off the ground late but on our way now it was to be all plain sailing/flying right. 
Well yes if we are only talking about the 11 hour flight but true to form that was the only break coming our way for Saturday 16th Jan. 
Getting through customs etc was some and super quick but that’s when things all fell apart again. Out of the 26 in the group more than half were left watching expectantly an empty carousel go around and around with not a sign of their luggage. It was still in the land of the long white cloud the along with that of a third of the passengers on the flight.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings…

Don’t worry we said it will come tomorrow so with a quick shopping trip for urgent essentials were started our adventure. Jumping ahead three day still no sign of luggage but have told it was sent ahead of us to Punta Arenas. We won’t believe it until we get to hug our bags.
Back to  our first night deciding to put our troubles behind us we headed out to have some dinner which fantastic a sign things were on the up right. 
Well not quite but anyway we were looking forward to day two which included a visit to a winery for a tour, tasting and lunch hosted by Rabobank. This was a very pleasant day and the food was excellent and the tour tasting equal to any. 
Following lunch we will head back to hotel for a rest well almost, why not take a detour and run to the coast for a look. Great idea we all agreed should have known this was not as simple as planned. 
The run over to the coast was about an hour okay let’s have quick look and head home …at about 5 mile an hour for several hours. Sunday was a Chilean holiday and every Chilean was at the beach and driving back to Santiago with us.

Eventually we arrived back to the airport (it was decided since we were passing that we should shake a tree and see if the missing bags would fall out.) So the men without bags stayed with Michael to chase this up and girls with a couple men headed back to hotel arriving at 10:30pm in time for a very late dinner. 

What day – the bag hunters arrived back at midnight to collapse in bed. Tomorrow will be an easy day quick 3 hour flight then rest and beautiful seafood dinner in Punta Arenas. 

Plain sailing now…

Hmmm well one couple completely overslept (on account of no sleep for two days) and were awaken with the news bus was just about to leave. They were the envy of those with little or no sleep due to jet lag. No big deal we were on the road within a few minutes of planned departure time. 
Now things are back on track smooth check in and security plane departs on time and we are away. 
Wait for it…. 30 minutes into the flight there is an announcement in spanish followed but a collective groan among the spanish speaking passengers. English announcement due to a problem with pressure or navigation we are turning back to Santiago as a precaution. 
Flying back for 30 minutes in a holding pattern for another 25 minutes and here we sit on the tarmac while techs work on the problem.  Hopefully when we pick up from where I am leaving you now all will be back on track (not that things ever been on track yet). 
In 17 years of extensive travel I have never travelled with anyone losing luggage, never had more than a 30 minutes delayed flight or a cancelled flight nor a flight with issues. With the exception of one landing ‘go around’ in a heavy storm once it has been exceptional. 
A lot of firsts for me on this trip the only thing that is running true to form is the true bush spirit and positive attitude of these people. Well done everyone the laughs keep coming although they are sounding a little more hysterical by the day. Michael Blake we would have been sunk without you and your local knowledge and fluent Spanish.  
Watch this space for some exceptional highlights from here on, we have all the lowlights out of the way. 

Highlights: 

Visit to Vino Casa Del Bosque – thank you Rabobank
They way this group has already bonded together and kept their good spirits despite everything that has been thrown their way in first few days.

Lowlights: 

Too many to list (nothing but speed humps to this group)

 More photos…