(102)Heading Home to Santiago.
After being on my test ride for just over 8 days I was feeling tired but pleased with myself. I hadn’t really done enough training for what I was about to take on but my body remembered what it was like to be on the road and changed to suit. It was my head I had to work on and that may take a little longer. For now I was in the company of the greatest family I could be with and that was making my life much easier.
Sunday 8th March
Waking up knowing I had a lay in and not needing to cycle was lovely but to wake up in such amazing place with amazing people was such a brilliant surprise. It was so nice to sit outside on the decking breathing the fresh morning air and enjoying a cupper.
We had breakfast and not long after were joined by Andrea’s mum and dad then later by her brother and his wife. We spent the day relaxing and eating an amazing BBQ and drinking wine and beer.
The food tasted amazing and even more so after eating pasta for a few days. We stayed until 11.30 pm and all headed back shattered. I’d had a hard 8 days on the bike had ridden 410 miles and climbed 8,000 metres loaded. It had been a good test for my kit and to find any problems before I set off. It was my head I had to work on and only time would help that.
Monday 9th March
It had been a really late night by the time we had got home and I was shattered. The ride over the Andes and being sick had tired me out. I got up and had breakfast but didn’t feel like doing anything else. With some work to do on my computer I returned to my room and along with work tried to catch up on my sleep. I needed this time to recoup I just hope I got stronger quicker to give me more confidence on longer tougher sections of my trip.
Tuesday 10th March
I got up around around 10 and joined Andrea for breakfast, with everyone at school I wandered deliriously around the kitchen for the coffee until I started to wake properly. Mornings were always hard for me and still feeling tired from my ride made it worse. Its weird how if I was on the road I would be on auto pilot and would do the same routine with efficiency, then ride a hard day without really noticing it and yet here I was trying to find the coffee and there it is right in front of me. Today was the day Andrea was going to take me to find a box to put in all the many letters that people had written to Sharon that I had been given.
When I was in the hostel in Valparaiso I had seen a wooden tea chest which I thought was perfect and so that set in my mind we headed out. We drove to China town which was at the other side of Santiago and started to look. We kept finding boxes but non were what I was looking for. It probably made it worse having a definite thing in my head and then I questioned weather I was being unreasonable and did it really matter. Of course it mattered and it mattered a lot. Andrea was amazing and very patient. we almost gave up when we walked in to a shop with lots of different things and there in the corner was a small wooden box with a coloured glass mosaic butterfly on it. It was perfect and it hit me what it was for. I took a deep breath and got on with it. we headed back to the house and I found it hard to say anything. I was so grateful for the time Andrea had put in but this whole thing of what I was about to do was so tiring.
Although it was hard this small box was beautiful and I was glad I had found it.
When I got back I went to my room and finished a blog. Rafael came home and gave me a big hug. I hadn’t realised he had read it. I felt like a frayed piece of string ready to break any second. I had so many emotions going through me and found it hard to cope.
We had lunch together which helped settle my mind and once Rafael had gone back to work I went to my room to rest. I was exhausted and needed to get stronger.
Wednesday 11th March
I woke up tired and drained yesterday had been a hard day and all I wanted to do was hide. I felt guilty for staying in my room but I just needed a bit of time to getting myself together. I wrote part of the next post which I found really hard and wondered why I was putting myself through it but I knew deep down it was helping. I had breakfast and prepared our evening meal which was steak and ale casserole. It was the first time I had made it and the cats seemed to know that as well. After dropping a couple pieces of beef and a cheeky grin on the cats faces I organised with Emanuel where I could buy another Garmin GPS. The last one had been great but had started to cause problems. I could have done the trip without it but having a log of the route I had travelled plus the safety of entering some of the biggest city’s it really did give piece of mind. Rafael joined us for lunch which Andrea had lovingly made and Emanuel and I headed off to find a store. It wasn’t long before I was the new owner of a sat nav and a few hundred quid down. It was worth it and it gave me piece of mind for the road ahead. With some work still to do we headed back home where I spoke to Katie and Amanda who had both been amazing support for me and got ready to go out.
We were heading out to go bowling which I told them I was Devon champion of which I’m not and was losing in both games until the last few balls.
Winning both games I felt guilty as I probably wouldn’t be invited again but they were brilliant sports and made for a lovely evening and just what I needed. We headed back for the casserole which they loved and I thought was ok but with it being so late I was shattered and headed to bed unable to believe another day had gone so fast.
Thursday 12th March
After a great night out I should have been feeling on top of the world but I got the feeling I was sick. The thought of food wasn’t there and I felt nauseous. My stomach was fine but had no energy, I felt tired and drained and just didn’t want to do anything. This wasn’t like me, I like to be up maybe a bit later then everyone else but I like to be up and doing something and it frustrated me I felt like this and the more a fought it the worse I got. I tried to go for a swim which would make me feel ok for a moment but would then end up going to my room and sleep. the guilt of not being more involved with helping didn’t help but there was nothing I could do other then sleep. The last few days Andrea would cook amazing dinners and Rafael would come home and we would chat about our days. It was great to be in such an amazing house hold I just wanted to feel better.
Friday 13th March
As I woke I could barely open my eyes. I felt so tired. I got up around 10.30 and felt a bit more awake. I started to feel better and started to work on my bike. With the new chainring fitted and rear sprocket I could now fit the chain and do an oil change on the hub. It was approaching lunch and I started to feel dreadful. I was meant to be going out for lunch but I couldn’t face it. I sat with Andrea and we talked about Sharon which I hadn’t really talked in depth about her and how I felt as I would normally take myself away if I felt low. It felt good to talk with a lot of tears and knew I needed to talk but I felt terrible. I took myself to bed and slept for the next 6 hours. I got up and they had made pancakes with get up Tim on it. It was so lovely and very sweet. Rafael returned and was off to pick up their camper. Needing to get out and try and shake off this bug I jumped in the car and we all headed to the south of the city. Gabriel joined us which was amazing as I hadn’t seen him for a year. Feeling tired and drained I felt unsociable.
Rafael’s truck next to a very old Volvo
We reached the garage on the south of the city and waited for the mechanic. The camper looked awesome. It was an old German truck that had been converted. It could go anywhere which was one of if the reasons why they had brought it. We made our way back to the house which felt more like being in a tank then a truck. Once back we relaxed for the evening by watching a movie but still not feeling great I headed to bed.
Saturday 14th March
I got up and felt rubbish yet again and we were off to the house in the mountains for a family get together but I just felt sick and drained. I tried to help out but really struggled. We left around 5pm and picked up Rafael’s parents and dropped off Martin at Andrea’s parents on the way. We stopped at the supermarket to get supply’s and headed for the house. The roads had been quiet due to a big football match that was on but once over the highway started to fill. We reached the house and unloaded the things which by this time I was starting to feel a little more normal and so sat and watched a couple films with Emanuel. It was starting to feel good getting a little normality back I just hoped it lasted. It was nice to be here in the mountains once again and I felt relaxed.
Sunday 15th March
It was so nice waking up in the hills with everyone in holiday mode. I still wasn’t feeling 100% but I was feeling much better. Rafael’s mum had been preparing a sweet corn meal for everyone and it needed to be divided by putting two or three large spoonfuls into the leaves of the sweet corn, tied with string and cooked in boiling water.
Everyone joined in and helped and soon we had a huge pile of small packages. With family members arriving all the time we soon had around 30 people there all chipping in to help.
It was lovely to feel part of the celebrations and was great to see everyone again. Emanuel had got me a nice large piece of paper so I could make an extra large paper aeroplane for the competition off the tower.
It was really good fun although with the strong wind that was blowing we knew they weren’t going to fly the way they should.
As we relaxed after the comp the house started to shake. At first I thought it was someone moving something heavy in the house then we saw the tower shake. It an Earthquake and the first since being back and although it only lasted about 10 seconds it was still exciting.
We enjoyed the rest of the day and slowly people left for there homes until it was just us left. We headed back into Santiago and to bed after amazing weekend.
Bella luna taking it easy
Monday 16th March
The weekend had been brilliant even though it started with me feeling unwell but know feeling much better I got up and set about helping out and sorting things. It was a productive day checking kit, washing, cleaning, making brackets for my normal camera to fit my go pro brackets and trying to write the blog. It was so tiring writing the blog as I was trying to fit the last 10 months into one post. What with it being such a tough time and with time moving so fast with so much happening I would find I missed a lot out. I knew it wouldn’t matter to most but as always I wanted it to give a balanced and true representation of my life at home and how hard it was to try and get my head straight in such a horrible situation. The day went quickly as usual and I was soon in bed with the house quiet. Not being able to sleep this was a good time to sit and try and focus on the past year and try and put it into words.It was so hard but I was in the best place to do so and with the support I needed and feeling much better with my health I knew I had to do it. I couldn’t believe how ill I had got and how it effected my day but now that I was well I was ready, I just had to stay focused.
Tuesday 17th March
After a really late night working I woke at 11am when I was meant to be going out at 10. As always Andrea was totally relaxed and said not to worry and relax. We headed off to the supermarket for supply’s to make a cakes. It took a little while to find what we needed but were soon heading back home. Rafael arrived back for dinner around 2 and soon headed back to work while I sorted out the food bag. I needed to get going soon because the longer I stayed the heavier it and my panniers seemed to get. I have no idea why they kept getting heavier but I couldn’t keep adding to them. We headed to Rafael’s work around 5pm to visit Mariano’s farther who engraves glass even though he has Parkinson’s disease he still produced amazing pieces of glass.
Mariano’s father an incredible artist
His work was incredible with so many different shapes, sizes,colours and patterns and was so good he had commissioned to make wine glass’s for the president. We thanked him and his wife for showing us around and headed back to the house. A few days earlier I had been in contact with Carlos and Pamina who we had met in Poland a few years ago just after we had stayed with Sharon’s mum and sister’s family. They had shown us a route through Chile and Argentina which with other peoples advice had turned out to be the most amazing route. We had arranged to meet up that evening so I packed a bag ready to leave once I’d had a quick swim.
Due to the way the rail network works in Santiago which is like a spider with all trains going to the centre from all parts it was going to take hours to get into the city and then back out to their house and as it was only 20 minutes drive to the east Rafael insisted on driving me to their.
After winning at bowling there had been a lot of talk about a rematch and so when we met Carlos we arranged the time and place for the rematch at alley for the following evening and I said goodbye. It was great to see Carlos and spent time chatting and finding out what he had been up to. Paminita came home later and we sat enjoying sushi on the balcony looking out over the north of the city. There place was sat almost at the base of the saint Cristova hill where the Virgin Mary sat and so being so close and having the next day free it was a such good opportunity to climb it. It had been a great day meeting them both but felt sad that Sharon wasn’t there. We both agreed we should have met when we were there a year earlier but knew we couldn’t do everything. Carlos and Pamina were such a lovely couple and having the chance to stay with them was amazing and have the chance to finally catching up.
Wednesday 18th March
After a lovely night with Carlos and Pamina I woke to an empty house. The sun was up and already warming the building. Being so close to the monument It seemed silly not to climb it but with the heat off the window it must have already be 35 degrees. I grabbed one of Carlos’s hats and headed out of the building. As soon as I walked outside I realised it wasn’t as hot as I thought. The walk to the top was straight forward just head for it and look for a path. It took about an hour to climb and was so worth it with the view getting better as I hot higher. I reached the top and sat and watched the world go by.
It would have been nice to share this but had to make the most of it on my own. I sat in silence as i watched couples look around taking pictures of each other and enjoy this incredible place.
I felt so alone, It was the sort of place that we would come to and enjoy. I could almost see her there looking out over the city and trying to stop me from stealing her ice-cream.
I left in silence and headed back down the hill to try and check out a large church. I reached the doors and found they were locked. spotting some nuns coming out a side door I headed straight in and as I walked in I found I was in a large church school surrounded by hundreds of kids. Trying to look like I intended to be there I did a quick lap and made a bolt for the door. once out I headed back to the Carlos’s Apartment and went for swim. It felt strange being on my own and just wanted someone to share this with.
I headed back to the apartment to work on the blog before We headed out and so sat at the table working. As I was sat there I started t sway. I thought I was going mad when I noticed the plant next to me doing the same. It was another earthquake but a small one. However when on the 16th floor the thought of a swaying building is a little unnerving.
I got a call from Carlos to say Pamina and him wouldn’t be able to make bowling and would try and meet up again. I set off across the city to the alley picking up a large lemon pie for the winner and some snacks. Rafael and his family soon arrived and i informed them the pie was for the winner and that I was hungry. They laughed knowing they wanted to beat me and so the teams were split.
The whole evening was brilliant and yet again after a very close match with everyone swooping the winning position I ended up winning by 5 points. I couldn’t believe it and felt guilty for buying a prize that I had won. so with everyone with a piece of sticky lemon pie we all headed home happy.
Thursday 19th March
After a pretty full on few days today was going to be an easy day with eating nice food and watching films. It was a good to rest and catch up on a few jobs and enjoy the great company.
Friday 20th March
Today it was Emanuel’s 20th birthday and there was going to be another party. I had said I would bake a cake from our village cook book which was called can’t go wrong chocolate cake which I renamed could go wrong Chocolate cake. I had tried using a bit of wood and weights to measure out the ingredients but then luckily Rafael came to the rescue with some real scales and so I set about baking. I had not only agreed bake a cake but to make pineapple cake and a crumble. With to many ingredients I ended making 2 pineapple cakes, a could go wrong chocolate cake and 2 blackberry and apple crumbles. With all the family members starting to arrive and start chopping and cooking, the party was underway. With everyone chatting ,laughing playing table football it wasn’t long before there was chanting for crumble and ice-cream. I brought it out from the oven and couldn’t believe how fast it went, it was brilliant. With the last crumbs gone it was time to sing happy birthday and in this family it was sung as badly as it could possibly be sang and it was so funny. It was amazing to watch Emanuel see in his 20th birthday and see all his family be there and to show their love for him. I felt very lucky to be part of it.
Saturday 21st March
I woke after such a hot night. It was 10am which seemed to be the time I naturally woke. Rafael needed to head into town as he wanted to copy my maps and he asked if I needed anything. I said all I needed was Bolivianos and after a couple calls we found where we needed to go. With most exchange places not having much but enough for the few days it would take to get to Uyuni. We headed back to the car park and pay for the parking but the machine wouldn’t work and found another lady was having the same problem. After finding someone to ask we found out that we were in totally the wrong carpark. We had a laugh about it and headed back to the house to take it easy. (Maps printed) we got home and Rafael’s brother and wife were there already preparing for the next birthday. With it being so hot I had to jump in the pool. It was so good to get wet and soon all the family were there taking it in turns to cool off in the pool.
Emanuel and his aunt performing the traditional dance very well
With another party well under way and to hear an another happy birthday song sang just as bad as the last. It was so great to be made to feel so at home and part of the family and with that I was presented with a large Chilean flag. They all wanted to welcome me into their family and consider them as part of it. It was so overwhelming.
Here is one of the most amazing and loving family in the world
All I wanted was Sharon to be there to to share this incredible moment with people she loved as much as I did. I wanted to say so much but to be honest I don’t think any words could express how I felt. I had messages Carlos and Pamina and so a bit later they to arrived to join in the fun. I was so pleased we got to see each other again and send time together. They were such a lovely couple it meant a lot for them to be there.
Sunday 22nd March
Being a Sunday we had arranged with some of Rafael’s family to go for a bike ride.
Were joined by Rodalfo and Roberto and Gabriel and so with a large group of us we set off for the Saint Cristova hill that I had walked up a few days earlier. As we got close to the hill Rodalfo had a puncture and whilst fixing it managed to lose the wheel nuts. While we all looked Carlos and Pamina arrived and they went off to buy replacements.
It was nice but not something I would have again. With time to relax we set off to the bottom and to say goodbye to Carlos and Pamina.
We waved goodbye promising to meet again and headed for the park. It was Roberto’s turn to have a puncture before we met up with Andrea and Sofia at the Brazilian square for dinner. I felt so at home and it felt amazing that everyone was having such a great time as well. I knew I would miss this and would miss all of them.
With the sun setting we headed home to relax and eat some amazing pizza that Andrea had made. It had been another really lovely day and I was shattered.
Enjoying my last dip with a game of volleyball
After spending so much time in Santiago I had not only been made part of the family but had also let like home. It was incredible to have had this time but tomorrow I had to leave and that was going to be hard. I had planned and prepared for leaving but saying goodbye and and head back wasn’t something I was looking forward to. I knew It had to be done and it couldn’t wait any longer. The thing that was great was that Emanuel, Gabriel and Rocio were travelling up with me and Rafael would fly up and join us later in Calama. It felt great that I would have such great company at a time when it would be the hardest.
Thanks for reading xxxxxx