Rolling Into The New Year: Coyhaique, Chile

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We have come to the end of our four weeks in rural Patagonia and it has continued to be a great experience. On the other hand the weather has turned and has been decidedly British, with wind and rain being a regular feature each day. It has opened our eyes to the harsh realities of living like this and how much of a challenge it can be running a remote Patagonian farm. We said it in our last blog that we had been really lucky with the weather so far, only having one day of torrential rain but since then we’ve had only a handful of dry, overcast days. It hasn’t felt very summer-y at all what with waking up and seeing your breath and the ground has turned to mud (though not as bad as winter we’re told when it can be knee deep!). Despite the weather though Ben finished the shed that they started building the other week and Steph has settled in to a routine of housework and helping with the children. The working routine has been a nice change and it also made us appreciate the time that we did have to ourselves.

Our down time has been spent mostly on the farm, enjoying our cabin life and pretending we’re on Ready, Steady, Cook or The Great British Bake Off! Most of my photos on my phone are of the fantastic meals we have made with the limited ingredients we can buy/store here and the baked goods that we have adapted recipes for. Both have been a roaring success. When we have left the farm we’ve been enjoying cake and tea at Cafe Peregrino in Coyhaique (they do huge brownies and incredible cinnamon buns) and we went mountain biking in the National Reserva Coyhaique. It was awesome to be riding through woodland again, with the smell of pine trees and eerie quiet you only get in a forest.

There’s one thing that wasn’t on our minds though and for that Ben has been happy! If we were at home it would have been all around and inescapable but out here in the wilds of Patagonia it hasn’t even been a consideration. Even on the particular day it wasn’t until after we’d had a five minute conversation and were parting ways that Veronika and I quickly turned around and wished each other a merry one, forgetting what day it was, almost like an after thought. Yes… Christmas.

We had Christmas Eve and most of Christmas Day to ourselves which was really nice. We cooked up a hearty beef stew, as close to Christmas dinner as we could manage and perfect for the English Christmas weather. More importantly we also baked some British treats: a Victoria Sponge cake (loaf) and a batch of Welsh Cakes in Christmas shapes to share with our adoptive family. In spirit of Christmas we played plenty of board games and cards with the kids before sharing in their Christmas meal in the evening. Thankfully our baked goods went down really well!

Now we’re moving on again which feels strange after having a place to call our own for a while and we were starting to feeling settled. There are things we’ve missed though such as an electric kettle, Wi-fi and being able to pop into town when you want something. Each of these things would be a serious consideration if we were to actually live anywhere as remote as here. On the other hand there are things we’re going to miss: helping with day to day life on the farm with the family, real cooking facilities and not having to pack up camp every day. It was a good decision to stop for a month and whilst it hasn’t been as relaxing as we imagined, there is always lots of work to be done, it has been more rewarding than we thought. We will definitely look for other workaway opportunities as we make our way north to learn new skills and explore other ways of life. We’re sure these skills will be useful when we do eventually call somewhere home!

Looking back, 2017 has been a busy and exciting year for us. We started the year with planning the big cycle trip, then we finished work, packed our apartment up and moved back in with the parents. We settled into life at home again before the 20th of September came around super fast and we were flying half way around the world with our whole life in two boxes! It’s gone really fast so far and we are only 2000km into a much longer trip. The months looking at the world map on the wall in our apartment and the planning we were doing seems like so long ago now.

…So what’s next?

We will be continuing north, following the Carretera Austral to its end in Puerto Montt. It feels like a long time since we started the Carretera, it was the second week in November when we got to Villa O’Higgins and now it’s now almost 2018. We want to quicken the pace a little so we are still on course to hit the right seasons as we keep heading north, but we’ve sketched out a rough plan for the next few months and there are lots of really exciting places to come. We might even get beyond Patagonia!

It’s Chilean summer holidays now and technically we’re in high season, something we’ve not had to contend with as we’ve always been ahead of the main tourist season. September to November (Spring) is the shoulder season but from what we’ve heard and read it might be a bit busier now. Alestair is a few weeks ahead of us now and he let us know about a landslide that happened South of Chaitén after he got there and they’ve closed part of the road. As Ruta 7 is the main one with very few other options due to the mountains and valleys in these parts I’m sure there will be an interesting diversion to take us north, maybe even a ferry. As always we’ll keep our social media updated. It’ll be more regular again now and normal cycling/road photos will resume soon!

From the both of us, Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2018 brings you health and happiness, with a good slice of adventure.

See you next year!
Steph and Ben

2 Responses

  1. Julie
    | Reply

    We’re pleased to hear that you enjoyed the rest of your farmstay. I’m sure you’ll be leaving with a much deeper understanding of what rural Patagonian life is really like. Your Christmas sounded quite different from home too – apart from the board games, which must be the same in many countries the world over! We spent Christmas up in Teesside with my family – it was very enjoyable and Solana loved spending time with her Nanna, Grandad and little cousins. We’re now up in Scotland visiting Laura’s family, where Solana is loving spending time with her Gran and her big cousins. I’m enjoying having a 2 week break from work, after a really busy semester, as well as time with family and friends – plus of course plenty of eating, drinking and board games! We will be returning home at the weekend, ready for our return to work/school on Monday… We wish you a very Happy New Year for a 2018 filled with happiness and adventures (and not too much wind or rain!).
    Love from Julie, Laura & Solana xxx

  2. Sal
    | Reply

    Aww so wonderful to read that, made me quite emotional! Awesome shed Ben! I miss you guys so much but it is so much easier and makes you feel lots closer with all your social media posts and for that I thank you enormously! Your baking skills clearly remain very good, I’m glad you had an enjoyable Christmas if different to usual. Loving the pig too! Safe travels north, lots of love xxx

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