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6 January - BordeBaker Lodge
A nice little spot for breakfast it has to be said.
We're going to go rafting on the nearby lake today, as recommended by our host.
Puerto Bertrand is a small village a short drive from the lodge.
We're not exactly sure what to do now, but we walk around for a bit and find a hut with a guy pumping up a RIB. Again, there's not a lot of English on their part or Spanish on ours, but yes, there's a trip leaving soon, they have room for the two of us, the price includes all equipment and we just need to be at their base up the road in half an hour or so.
Sounds good to us. We'll have a little stroll, get a coffee, whatever.
There's a small coffee shack near the beach. From a distance, with European eyes, it looks like a little bijou artisanal place. Close up, it's here's a cup, here's the Nescafé, here's the hot water, help yourself for two thousand pesos each. It's hard to say whether there's a huge gap in the market here, or whether the number of visitors who'd be prepared to pay for decent coffee is just too small to be viable. You will recall that I had this conversation at Caleta Tortel, but greater depth of experience has not brought greater depth of understanding.
Back to rafting!
Amanda is kitted out.
And so am I.
We are with a group of half a dozen or so other people, all Chilean, and it would appear they have little experience of foreigners. They're all friendly enough but don't seem in any rush to learn about the exotic strangers.
We're given some instructions on how to do rafting (basically listen out for the Spanish words for "go!" and "stop!" and "back!", that sort of thing) and then we all hop in.
Initially the lake is totally placid. We do a bit of paddling, getting the hang of the instructions, but then we're all told to jump in the water and hang on to the side of the raft!
We've all got wetsuits and lifejackets, so it's not cold or hard to keep our heads above water, but it still comes as a bit of a surprise.
Amanda and I have been sitting on opposite sides of the raft for paddling, so we are naturally on opposite sides in the water. The MC tells me to let go and swim round to be with her, but as I start to do that, I realise the current is pulling the raft away from me. Blimey, I'm going to have to swim for it! Technically this is something I can do, but I've never been the world's most enthusiastic swimmer, and Amanda reckons this is the fastest she's ever seen me swim in her life.
But we are reunited, and all is well. I've got the waterproof camera on a strap round my wrist so I can take pictures and I seem to be the only one doing so. Given that some of our group are a family unit, it seems a bit surprising they don't want any photos of their day. Even with just a phone camera, you can get waterproof bags for temporary use. But not my problem.
Getting back on board is undignified to say the least!
After our practice sessions on the very still lake water, we enter the Baker river, which is a bit more exciting. This trip is apparently "category 3", which means that it's fun but really very safe. Still, paddling through the rapids is a full-time occupation, so I can't actually take any pictures of the most dramatic bits.
But we reach a point where the best experience requires the boat to be front-heavy, so we take it in two shifts in order to keep the back empty. These pictures therefore are not of us, but of what we did.
The front passengers are completely submerged. It's only for a few seconds, so there's no real risk of drowning, but I guess I wouldn't recommend it if you have a fear of water.
After this, we have a rather more gentle drift downriver to the pickup point, from which we're driven back to base. Marvellous fun, thoroughly recommended.
Before we return to the lodge, we take a look around the village. There's nothing that particularly needs to be singled out about it, but this:
An old washing machine is re-purposed as a litter bin!
So I'll drink a farewell toast to BordeBaker. Tomorrow we're starting for home.
It's a Pisco Sour, the Chilean national drink. [It's also the Peruvian national drink, but the two countries have slightly different versions. As always, Wikipedia will tell you everything you need to know, and quite a lot you probably don't.]
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