Ian & Maggy had already left for the UK by the time we returned to Puerto Montt so Marianne kindly drove down to collect us (and all our laundry) to take us back to the Farm where we were going to spend another winter.
It was fantastic to be back in a warm, dry house instead of sleeping in a swamp with condensation running down all the walls trying to find a dry spot of mattress and wondering if the anchor was going to hold all night… We had a wonderful first night’s sleep !!!
This year, there was an addition to the Farm animals – Zeus, a golden retriever puppy lived in one of the cabanas that are let by Ian and he spent most days playing with Sahne outside the main Farm house. Monty was a little jealous of this big lumbering puppy until he realised that Zeus wasn’t allowed in the house so Monty had Sahne and Mackay all to himself every evening…
We quickly got back into the routine of walking the dogs every day for 2 or 3 hours, catching up on our laundry and generally relaxing by the big log fire.
One thing we really noticed was that our Spanish had deteriorated drastically whilst in the South. Obviously, we spoke to each other in English and, as we had not seen many people, we had only spoken Spanish to the Armada on the rare occasions we had to use the VHF radio. So, in 9 months, we had practised very little. Probably a good job as we would have ended up inventing an entirely new language if we had been practising on each other and nobody else would have understood a word of what we were saying !!
On August 7th, Jo & Trevor (Malarkey) arrived for a 2 week holiday. They decided to come and see us to relax before starting their main travels in Peru & Bolivia. It was great seeing them both again after almost 2 years and nice to know they hadn’t changed a bit !! We pottered about, walked the dogs, went out for a few nice meals, ate a bit and drank quite a lot. All too quickly their time was up and they were leaving us for Peru. We couldn’t believe we had already been back on the Farm for 6 weeks….
The next month just flew past. We were enjoying ourselves reading about the South Pacific and getting excited about our trip West in 2012. In our wisdom, we came to the conclusion that Monty might get a bit lonely on the Boat for such a long time especially as he was so used to socialising with the Farm dogs. Plus, of course, he would have to undergo Quarantine in New Zealand. So, after a long chat with our Chilean Vet, we decided to try to obtain another Havanese puppy. We wanted to stick with the same Breed as Monty is just the right size for a Boat dog and has a cast iron stomach and is never seasick. Also, he doesn’t object to being lazy on the Boat when he is unable to get to shore for a long walk.
This started as a vague whim but soon became an obsession when we realised that there are no Havanese dogs anywhere in Chile. Now what ? Well, we contacted Monty’s Breeder in Colorado to see if he knew of any Breeders in Argentina. He didn’t know of any but, coincidentally, he had a litter of 5 born on 8th July. Now, this was just a little spooky as Monty’s Birthday is 2 days before Vicki’s and this was 2 day’s before Roger’s…. He advised that we could have the pick of the litter as they hadn’t yet been advertised – oh dear !!!
Unfortunately, Chile will not allow Pets to enter the Country in the Aircraft Cabin so it was not going to be as easy as when we had exported Monty to Grenada and the three of us had travelled in Business Class from Florida…. We contacted a Pet Export Agency in Colorado to find out how exorbitant it would be to export a Puppy to Chile in Cargo thinking that this was really going too far and perhaps a Maltese Puppy would be acceptable and almost as nice. However, Don then sent us some photographs of the little monsters and we were hooked….
Basil flew into Santiago from Colorado (via Dallas) on 23 September and, despite having been travelling for over 24 hours, was a lively, happy little chap. We had left the Farm at 4am and driven up to Santiago to collect him – a journey of about 10 hours – and then we drove straight back again…slightly insane you may well think but he was definitely worth it…
We only had a few days before Roger had to fly back to the UK for 2 weeks as his son, Will, was getting married to Helen on the 1st October in Oxfordshire. He had a mad 2 weeks rushing around catching up with friends & family while Vicki struggled to stay calm with 5 dogs (including 2 mad puppies), 2 cats, 7 horses plus a few hundred goldfish to look after !!!
The Wedding was a lovely affair with beautiful sunshine in a very pretty little village and it was a very proud Father who witnessed the ceremony and listened to his Son’s speech. Kate had been brilliant in helping with the logistics of getting a suit and all the accoutrements hired for the occasion as we no longer have any formal clothes and Will had banned Roger from turning up in his “Crocs”…
From the Wedding, Roger rushed down to Gosport to catch up with all our Hardway friends and then he went sailing for a couple of days in the Solent on a chartered Yacht with 9 of his old “sailing muckers” including his Uncle Patsy. He found it slightly different to cruising with Vicki & Monty !!!
Roger arrived back in Chile on 11th October much to Vicki’s relief and duly took his turn in getting his arms and hands chewed by Basil’s little puppy teeth.
We were due to see Rod Stewart in concert on 19th October and had booked the most expensive Seats at the front as we guessed that it was probably the last opportunity we would get to see him live. Sadly, this was cancelled at the last minute due to a problem with the Stadium but at least this saved us another trip up to Santiago… (We didn’t realise it at the time but Rod Stewart was actually the first International Performer to appear live in Chile after the Dictatorship so the Chileans are understandably quite fond of him).
Unfortunately, one of Maggy’s horses became ill during the last weekend of October. We think it was some kind of allergic reaction to an insect sting but, having called the Vet, Avdon sadly passed away – hopefully, not in too much pain. The Chileans have numerous Bank Holidays – far more than in the UK – and, typically, this was one of their Monday and Tuesday affairs. We couldn’t just leave Avdon lying in the field waiting for the Farm workers to turn up 3 days later to dig a grave so Roger set to work with a shovel… It was a very hot day and 6 hours later the hole was big enough to do the job. Very ungracefully, we towed him into the hole with a truck and covered him up.
Ian & Maggy had delayed their return to Chile due to the extensive development of their Honey Business and arrived home on the 9th November. We had a great catch up with them and left the Farm to re-launch El Vagabond on Monday 14th. We had hauled her out to check the hull damage following our ‘Rock incident’ and, whilst there were some Fibreglass repairs required, luckily the damage was not too extensive. So, with our nicely repainted bottom, we launched and returned to Marina Oxxyean to tidy and clean up before setting off on our next little trip South to the Laguna San Rafael to see the famous Glacier.
We duly plugged in our shore power and “Bam” we heard a pop and the next thing we saw were flames pouring out from the plug socket in our long cabin. Somehow, we had some stray power bypassing the Master Breaker switch. After extinguishing the fire, we assessed the damage. Not too bad – two totally destroyed sleeping bags which luckily took the brunt of the fire, one burnt ski pole and one smoke damaged ski so we were lucky, it could have been a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, the mess left behind by the fire extinguisher powder took over a week to clean up… well, we were going to have a “spring clean” anyway so it was lucky the fire came before and not after the clean.
While we were in the Marina, we also got Carlos (our friendly Engineer) to give our Engine a full service ready for our Pacific adventure and to change the Engine Mounts which Roger had brought back from the UK. As is always the case, these things take longer than you think and we were finally ready to leave Puerto Montt on 9th December a couple of weeks later than planned...