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Our last weeks in South America

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Hey folks,

Laura left you all last time as we were about to jump out of a plane at 3,000m with only a "flimsy" parachute between us and certain death :D

Well I´m glad to report that we both survived unscathed. It was Laura´s 2nd jump, so she knew the drill. For me it was my 1st time, and I`m not afraid to admit that I was a little nervous. Laura was gutted to hear that she wouldn´t be in the same plane as me and so wouldn´t get to see my face turn deathly white when I actually had to jump out. Some friend huh :D

I have to say though when they opened the plane door at that height, the noise of the wind was terrifying.The free fall only lasted 30 seconds in which time we twisted and turned on our heads about 4 times at 200km/hr before eventually facing the ground and I could see where we were going. The camera man was then in front of us shooting away, trying to get my reaction on camera. Then without warning the instructor pulled the shoot and we were catapulted back up into the sky before finally slowing down and gliding the last few minutes back down to earth. The silence up there is beautiful and we landed "pretty" gracefully on our asses ! I really enjoyed it and would definitely do it again.

After the thrill of my first skydive we hopped on a 14 hour bus to Mendoza, another of Argentina´s wine countries, as Laura said on facebook at the time " the things we have to do to ride out this recession". Mendoza produces mainly red wines so Laura went on a day tour to sample what they had to offer. She was in her element, surrounded by good wine and good food. It's easy to keep her happy! We ended up getting stranded in Mendoza a little longer than planned. To get to Santiago, the bus has to cross the Andes mountains, which at this time of year (their winter) often closes due to snow. Well luck wasn´t on our side and we got stranded for 2 days :(  We finally got going on the 3rd day, the journey across the Andes was really beautiful, there was snow everywhere and families building snowmen along the roadside.

After finally reaching Santiago, we spent only 2 days seeing the sights. Its a pretty enough city but wouldn´t go down as one of our favourites. The most noted memory from Santiago will have to be the fabulous meal we had in " Las Vacas Gordas" "The Fat Cows" , that just about summed the two of us up by the time we left at midnight. We polished off salmon starters, followed by a succulent fillet steak each, then dessert, all washed down by a bottle of Chile´s finest wine Casillero del Diablo. Absolutely divine, and the best bit, for a fraction of the cost at home !

We decided to spend our last week in South America in Central Chile, its the depths of winter here, so there are certain parts of the South that are inaccessible. Luckily for us Pucon was only an 11 hour bus journey from Santiago and we spent 3 days there. Its a pretty little town which is known for its outdoor sports. We came to hike its active volcano "Villarrica". The last activity from this volcano was in 2001 and consisted off smoke and ash being spewed from the crater, the last major eruption was in 1984. Unfortunately we didn´t make it all the way to the top as there was too much ice. We did however get to slide back down the mountain on our behinds which was great fun, needless to say we both had difficulty sitting down the next day :D
We found time in Pucon to visit the Thermal baths, a nice way to relax after a long day. The baths varied in temperature and are all heated by underground lava (I think). the last bath was definitely the hottest, I'm guessing well over 40 C as we could barely sit in it.
For our last day in Pucon, on a recommendation, we went to the Huerquehue National Park. We walked the 18km "3 Lake Route" which took about 6 hours. The path was almost completely covered in snow and ice which made it an interesting walk. We had to resort to walking on our hands on a few occasions :D  The park´s scenery is absolutely breathtaking ( as you will see in the photos). The scenery was made even more beautiful due to to the fact that everything was covered in snow. A very enjoyable day.
Its hard to believe we have just spent 13 weeks in South America, looking back it has been a great start to our year away. We are both sad  to be leaving South America and also excited to be moving onto a new country. Our next blog will be winging its way to you from New Zealand, we can´t wait to get there :D
Mel and Laura


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Last weeks in South America :(

Rosario, Mendoza, Santiago, Pucon, Argentina,Chile