On our final morning in Patagonia, we were informed that the van that was supposed to take us to our bus (and, by extension, to civilization) had, in fact, already departed. Trying not to panic, I went from breakfast table to breakfast table, asking the lodge guests if they happened to be going into the park and had some spare room. It seemed we were out of luck, until the father of a French family of five approached us, and mentioned that they had room in their trunk!
Desperate times, as they say. With great relief, we hopped into the back of their trunk (it turned out to be quite spacious, and was the kind that is really just an extension of the car, not a closed-in unit) and headed on our merry way, now quite ready for some R&R.
And R&R is what we got! We met up with our friends, and the rest was a sun-drenched blur. There were steep hills and paintings on every wall in Valparaíso, and mornings spent as a group eating avocado toast, and doughnuts stuffed with manjar (a thicker, creamier dulce de leche), eggs, and fresh fruit.
Karla and Alexei’s wedding took place on the hugest vineyard I’ve ever seen, and though the afternoon was overcast, the sun broke out during their ceremony and stayed out the rest of the day. We feasted on ceviche and fresh-pressed melon juice and passionfruit-everything, dancing late into the night with masks and wigs and ridiculous hats of all sizes.
We spent the next day in Viña del Mar with Karla’s family, drinking white wine from honeydew melons bowls, stuffing ourselves silly with salads and barbeque, and cheers-ing over pisco — perhaps more pisco than was wise, haha.
Then Santiago was a blur of terrifying funicular rides, market trips, a visit to one of Pablo Neruda’s tchotchke-filled homes, long afternoons lazing over ice cream and coffee, and late evenings stretching into later nights, feeling grateful and lucky to be somewhere so beautiful, with warm bellies and warm hearts.