Xmas itself took place at a hostel in Valparaiso. A city full of life. Imagine Brighton, with a similar percentage of real hippies, but replace the Londoners and trustafarians with criminals (and obviously greatly improve the quality of the citizens), add in a whole lot of hills and replace the pebbles with sand.
Hostel life is strange. A convergence of all kinds of people from all parts of the world. The chances of all the people we spent Xmas with being in the same place at the same time were infinite, or definite, or somewhere in between depending on your take on things. We arrived at Lunar Sonrisa on Xmas Eve and were fortunate enough (whether it was predestined or not) that the 10 or so people staying there got on magically well and we spent a very happy Xmas together drinking and eating and beaching and swimming in the very cold Pacific Ocean, my first dip in that not insubstantial pool of water.
Skip forward to New years Eve and to Mendoza, Argentina. At midnight you may well imagine fireworks, champagne and merriment. You'd be close, but not very. Replace all that with me stuck on the toilet, thunderstorms and torrential rain outside, a brief foray onto the empty streets accompanied by the obligatory stray dog, playing the 'Yani' card game, stuck in our hostel room as the bell struck 12, and in a state of mild hallucination me confusedly pouring our one bottle of champagne down the sink. Happy new year!
But not so happy as Fay and I parted ways for the next two months. Me to head off climbing in Argentina and Chile and Fay to travel down from Puerto Mont to Puerto Natales by boat. A boat which had such a bad track record that they renamed it, and it's apparently been much better since.