Thank goodness I’d squirreled away a spare pack of tryptans! I’d had a mild panic when I thought that I’d run out, and didn’t much fancy my chances of trying to persuade a pharmacist in Santiago to sell me some. Being an over-organised, let’s get sorted sort of person I had of course packed an emergency supply, but then immediately forgotten about them. Re-discovering them last night meant that I could stop worrying about the blooming migraines and not being able to drive or function etc, and just lay my head on the pillow and let us both get some sleep.
We didn’t breakfast until 9.30am but at least by then the dining room is quiet (the rude German tour party are outside getting ready for a bike ride) and we’re able to enjoy a conversation with the mum of one of the hotel owners. She and her husband used to spend several months of each year in Chile, but she feels that they’re getting too old to do that now, so instead the children are changing the way that they run the hotel so that they can spend the Chilean winter in Germany. We’d quite like to do that – spend our winter in Chile, but then again, I do love the snow, and wrapping up snuggly warm against the elements.
We didn’t have to check out until noon and so spend the rest of the morning leisurely exploring the grounds. They really are quite special. There’s a little jogging track which is also used for go karts and teaching school children about road safety; and there are llamas, a donkey, goats, rabbits and chickens. The gardens back on to the Rio Lircay, with several viewpoints to take in the magnificent scenery. It’s time to set off though so after persuading the stubborn llama to come closer for a picture (he didn’t) we head for the motorway.
What a drive! About two hours in all traffic is diverted onto a side road as there’s been a nasty accident involving two juggernauts. I don’t know how the drivers fared but one truck looked pretty mashed up. For about an hour after we get back on to the motorway the lorry drivers all drive sensibly, but after that it’s back to them pretending to be in some sort of weird video game, playing with other drivers, and freaking them (me) out. Dervla is on form and takes us off our planned route and instead into Puente Alto, a suburb of Santiago. By this point I’m terrified! The traffic is 3-4 cars abreast in a road designed for two lanes, it’s rush hour, I’ve been driving for almost 6 hours, it’s 33 degrees C outside, and not much cooler inside, we haven’t drunk enough water, we’re both hot and tired, Dervla doesn’t have a clue where she’s going, and I find myself yelling “where, the f*** are we?!” much to the amusement of the driver in the car next to us. This of course doesn’t help Rich much as he frantically scans the map, and because he can’t hear what I’m saying, aware only that I’m obviously about to lose the plot completely. But he yells back for me to pull over in the next side street and turn the engine off, and then makes me drink water. But not before I’ve told him that I’m never going on holiday with him again, I’ll go with his mum instead, to which he responds that he’d rather go on holiday with his dad than me anyhow. By some small miracle, Dervla (wisely) chooses this enforced break to re-calibrate, and lo and behold, finds that she did know the way after all. Rich and I look at each other, mouth the words “I love you” and I start the engine. We will get there.
We did. And it’s like a theme park. For people who like the sound of being outdoors, but can’t do it without luxury or being told what to do and where to go. A little bit like Center Parcs back in the UK. And we had such high hopes. Cascada de Animas was originally a horse ranch and has been here in the Maipo Valley since 1840. The wooden cabins are all hand crafted and the restaurant overhangs the Rio Maipo. It all looks very pretty, but it’s worlds apart from the remote cabins we’ve been staying in, and I especially am feeling the culture shock. So I start crying again once we’re in our cabin. Fortunately it’s at the very end of the complex, detached from the others, and next door to the caretaker who happens to have some very cute dogs, cats and kittens, so my meltdown isn’t witnessed by anyone other than long suffering hubby. When I’ve calmed down, we decide that we both need to eat as soon as possible. Unexpectedly, the restaurant is quiet, the salmon beautifully cooked, and the environment seems a little less contrived as we sip on pisco sours, listening to the roar of the river below, whilst staring into the fire pit. By the time we get back to our cabin at 10pm, we’re able to appreciate how quiet, light, big and airy it is. It sleeps 4 and the ceiling in the living area is almost cathedral like. Here’s to a well earned sleep.