Friday, 16 February 2007

The Start Date Is Booked

Most of my packing has now been done, as has most of the painting I want doing before departure. Still no news on the renting the house out front, although I spoke to BMW man from the agency grumbling that the absence of viewings was totally contrary to his total confidence that finding a tenant would occur shockingly fast, so it was agreed to drop the rent to the maximum recomended by the other agents, alter the "cottage" decription and include an advert in the Chester Chronicle again. Just bought that paper and scanning through it does look as if the pricing is right (in fact there's a two bedroom place just up the road in England going for the same rent - and they don't have a weather vane!). Still very frustrated though.

I sat at my laptop the other day thinking that it was probable that any tenant would only want the place for the statutory minimum period of six months, meaning that whilst away it could be vacant. So with my frustrated mind, I thought "Why not bite the bullet and book a flight?". Being at the laptop made the next part simple. Cheap Easyjet flight from Liverpool to Madrid, and then connecting to an Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Santiago via Buenos Aires. My finger poised over the "Buy" button for quite a while, and then bingo I hit it excitedly.

My trip to South America will commence on the 14th of March.

I have been studying my recently purchased guidebooks and now have mapped out a rough route through the continent, following the good weather and hitting the wildlife viewing places at the optimal times. So here's the plan:

Starting in Santiago I will then head over the Andes to Argentina, visiting the wine growing area around Mendoza, including the western hemisphere's highest peak. I will then drop south along the Andes to Argentina's Lake District. From here I will head back north to visit some weird and wonderful multi-coloured rock landscapes in uppermost Argentina. Crossing back over to Chile I will do my high altitude Altiplano visit, continuing this theme into southern Bolivia. From here I will head south east towards the Iguazu waterfalls on Brazilian/Argentinian border (no doubt passing through Paraguay). Then heading north westerly to the Pantanal in Brazil, crossing back into Bolivia and onwards to southern Peru.

I am aiming to get to southern Peru for July, ready to pick up Sam at the end of that month, and then heading initially to Machu Pichu (he has announced he is desperate to see this fantastic sight) and then down to Bolivia once more for our adventures there. After seeing Sam safely onto his flight home, I will explore northern Peru, crossing into Ecuador with the prime goal of experiencing the Galapagos islands. Then it will be into Colombia, Venezuela and amazonian Brazil. Salvador and Rio are the cities I want to see in Brazil. Journeying south along the Atlantic coast, Buenos Aires will be next (with a quick jump over the river Plate to Uruguay), followed by an extensive visit to Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego, before heading to pick up Sam once more, this time in Santiago. The trip's grand finale will be our tour of Easter Island, before travelling back to Britain together.

Of course the best laid plans of mice and men etc............The routing is just a rough plan that will enable me to experience my chief goals. It will be a wonderful luxury to have the time to deviate from this path as whims and circumstances dictate. I cannot wait. How easily frustration can turn to outright excitement.

Sam is still very much on my mind. He will be fine, but I do know I shall miss him terribly, and he me. Despite the ease of communication abilities we have now, I will not be there for him, as I am now. Time to departure is ticking, so I am making sure we cram in as much fun as possible before the 14th.

We were lucky last weekend as the snowy weather continued into Saturday, so it was out with the sledge. He got soaked (as predicted) but it was brilliant fun.

Here are the pics: