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After opening our Christmas pressies, Rich making inroads on the mini marzipan fruit shapes which he hunted down in Lider, and a perfect hot dog brunch Chilean style, we head for Parque National Laguna del Laja for our idea of the perfect Christmas Day – walking in the mountains. The rain clouds have dispersed and even the sun has put in an appearance and with all the recent rainfall we get to see the waterfalls along the way at their best. The park is so isolated that the drive to it and the start of the Sendero Las Chilcas walk is wonderful. No insane drivers, and I’ve time to take my foot off the gas and look at the view. We’d happily spend days exploring this place.

Here in Chile, Christmas thankfully seems to be less about gluttony and extravagance, and more about spending time with those you care about. We meet several families out to look at the magnificence of the waterfalls in full flow. They also don’t see the need to chop down trees which will then be chucked out after a few days. I always think that that’s such a waste. Fair enough if they’re recycled or re-planted, but to send them to landfill is just selfish. It’s also interesting to note that we rarely see children having hissy fits or making demands. They seem more content with the important things, and there’s an inherent respect for those who are older and often wiser. It must be a shock for Chileans when they see children behaving like divas.

We celebrate the end of the walk by sitting in the boot of the truck and eating a whole box of orange chocolate sticks. Christmas isn’t Christmas without orange flavoured chocolate. Back at our new home from home Curalemu,  an extended family have hired out the cafeteria and the party is in full swing. It’s traditional to have a barbecue and so we decide to do the same. The barbecue is big enough to roast a hog, but it’ll have to make do with a lovely piece of beef.  Rich does the usual ‘the charcoal is too damp’ routine and almost hyperventilates trying to make fire, but eventually we’re rewarded with a fantastic Christmas Day supper of steak, rice and stir-fry veg. The daft doggies are staying close so we feed them tidbits in between cuddles, tummy rubs, and admiring our clear view of the stars, whilst the frogs and crickets provide background music.

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