Sunshine at Last!
Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
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A four-hour hike in the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park might have started the process of shedding some of the pounds gained during the cruise
One more night on board, and then we had to pack up and say goodbye to the staff who had looked after us so well on the Marco Polo. We had hoped to get some good aerial views of the spectacular glaciers and snow peaks on our flight back up through southern Chile, but thick cloud covered everything except for occasional tantalizing glimpses. En route back to Valparaiso to pick up our van, we decided to stop over in Santiago for a couple of days. Unfortunately, the inevitable cruise 'virus' had already made it's appearance, leaving us both with sore throats and runny noses
We thought that a few days at a quiet beach side campsite in Reñaca, would provide the opportunity to get over our colds and 'recover' from the non-stop pampering during the cruise. However, it seemed that besides being under the weather, we also had a bad case of 'post-cruise blues', so a few days turned into ten rather dismal days. We had no physical or mental energy for travel and exploration, and preferred to seek out comfort foods while hunkered down in our van, reading books. Simultaneously, we were once again plunged into an immense, black cloud of grief. Perhaps it was simply the re-adjustment after a very active two weeks on the Marco Polo, and especially now being without our friends, Adrian and Tanja. The one thing that still brought smiles to our faces were the continuing e-mail messages from them and other friends (ours and Mike's) from all over the world.......and then, our laptop crashed!!
Actually, we only had a very slight computer problem, but thought it best to seek out a technician before it escalated
Next day, a long and dusty road seemed a small price to pay for the promised luxuriant vegetation and stunning views in the 'Reserva Nacional Radal Siete Tazas'. This area marks the transition from the semi-arid Mediterranean climate of central Chile to the lush forests of the south. A short hike though the beech groves led directly to the siete tazas (seven cups) - an impressive series of cascading waterfalls that have carved their way through black basalt rock, forming several pools in the deep, narrow gorge. The natural beauty of the area was somewhat marred by the throngs of weekend holiday makers - all more interested in their loud cars and ghetto-blasters, and busily preparing for the inevitable all-night party. Not to worry, we managed to find ourselves a very quiet and 'unofficial' campsite way off the beaten track - a perfect spot tucked away under a large shade tree at the far end of a sheep pasture
Monday morning we pressed on to Talca - now a bustling commercial centre in this rich agricultural region, but originally famous as the site of the signing of Chile's Declaration of Independence in 1818. Here we have not only located a very competent computer technician who fixed our laptop problems without losing any of our files, but also got a tune-up for the van, fixed our troublesome muffler brackets (for the fourth time!), and filled our propane tanks without any problem. Yesterday we spent a couple of hours cleaning the van of the accumulated dust of several trips on rather rough back roads, and getting stocked up with provisions.
We now seem to be recovering from our colds somewhat, and getting back into a more positive frame of mind after a discouraging couple of weeks. So, as soon as we get this TravelPod entry posted, and catch up on our backlog of e-mails, we feel we'll be in good shape to 'hit the road again'!
Another beautiful poem. This one was suggested by our friends Audrey and Glenn Montgomery of Kinburn in the Ottawa Valley. We were struck by some of the similarities to "Breaths" - the Nigerian poem we posted on December 19th
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!
(Mary Frye, 1932)