South America, Day Six: Patagonia, Chile

A few snoozes on the plane later and we’re in Coyhaique, Patagonia. We arrived around lunchtime and, with our bellies gargling, jumped into a random car with a guy who just nodded and smiled when I said ‘Patagonia Hostel’, with an upwards inflection, clearly not understanding a word I said. But we jumped into the car anyway and, with the howling wind doing its very best to kill us, somehow arrived in one piece.

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The drive from the airport to the hostel was pretty damn breathtaking – and, from what we’ve heard, a sneak peek into what Patagonia might hold in store for our greedy eyes. The landscape stretches beyond the horizon, and mountains frame the picture. Cows, sheep, horses polka-dot the fields, and the wind roars through the valleys and lakes, whipping leaves, stirring waves.

The wind was very strong today. Our plane journey, in the last legs, was particularly bracing and the car, post plane survival, was often knocked off course, must to the driver’s nonchalance.

Out hostel – Patagonia Hostel – is so, so cosy. A fire flickers in the common room. There are books and there’s a never-ending supply of water (hot and cold) and biscuits. For the first time in days, we can make ourselves a cuppa… which is a blessing because it’s bloody nippy.

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We went for a very late lunch at Ricer – just off the main street of Coyhaique. If you can call it a main street. Everything’s chilled here. Patagonia adopts a ‘manana, manana’ attitude – there isn’t even a rush to pay.

On that note, Patagonia is all about cash. You won’t get far with a credit card. Make a withdrawal as soon as you arrive. There’s a cash point at Supermercado Bigger, you’ll see it, it’s red, just off the main street.

Back to Ricer… we had meat and rice. A Chilean staple. It wasn’t the best slab of meat we’ve ever had (saying that, we were spoilt rotten in Argentina) but the Pisco Sour washed it down anyway. Plus we were knackered and starving. Then I ordered an Irish coffee but the waitress stole it before I got to sample the potent ending. I was displeased.

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It’s a very pretty town and it’s really safe here. It’s lovely looking over to the snow-capped mountains and, despite being in a buzzing city mere hours ago, we’re now in… the South American version of Norway.

We had a chilled one at the hostel. We sat in the hammock chairs, by the fire, and drank wine. We also met a lovely German girl called Sandra who works here. She’s so sweet and friendly so we’re planning on making friends with her so we can share a dinner or two and some more wine.

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Caves tomorrow!

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