11.03.2014 - 14.03.2014 12 °C
Tuesday 11th - Friday 14th March 2014
The next morning we got some instructions from the friendliest receptionist ever on where to catch a collectivo to our next destination. Collectivos are a mix between a taxi and a bus. A mini-bus that has a set route but seems to pick people up and drop them off anywhere on that route. We were in luck and as we arrived on the designated street, so did our collectivo. And we were off. After our Bariloche experience I wanted to make sure that the driver knew we needed him to tell us where to get off, poor man. But fair play to him, just over an hour later he did. He made a wide sweeping motion with his arm tracing the endless stretch of white sand in front of us and declared that we were in Maitencillo and asked where we wanted to get off. Hmmm...I don't know. The centre? He nodded. But as the bus meandered along the beachfront we decided to hop off and continue on foot. In case we found a cabin we wanted. He pulled over, took our money and sent us on our way. Later, when we had walked the full length of the beach I was curious to know where he would have dropped us, because as far as we could see, there was no centre.
The sun was shining and the beaches were empty. It was off season so we'd have the place pretty much to ourselves. Yay! We pulled our packs on and started walking. There were indeed many cabins for rent but they all required you to phone a number to enquire. Not great. Forgetting the whole Spanglish issue, it meant we'd have to wait for individuals to come and meet us to view the place and what if we didn't like it? It could be a very long day! So we continued walking, mulling over our options. We then spotted a place that had a reception, aha! That was more promising and there must be more. So Zarius was left manning the bags while I went in to find us a cabin. The first place was very disheartening. She showed me two cabins and they were dark and pokey and depressing and had no views because the beachfront ones were fully booked. We carried on and found another place with beachfront cabins and this time we both went in. There was an old man running the place who informed us that he didn't have a beach facing one available but could show us something else. It had a braai outside, positive, the braai had some old chicken and an onion on it, not so positive...he opened it up and let us in. Bad. Really not good. We smiled, nodded and said we really did want beachfront so we'd have to pass on it this time. He told us to wait while he made a call and came back and offered us one closer to the road that was bigger but he'd give it to us for a special price. We knew it would just be more space to have more bad so we declined and went on our way. We tried a third, again no beachfront available and no outside area. We were out of receptions for beach cabins. We decided to grab a coke and weigh up our options.
There was a hostel that we knew had space but it was ridiculously expensive but we could go there for one night and at least leave our backpacks while we continued our search. It was miles away in the complete opposite direction, so we started walking. And that's when we found it. Our little cabin in the trees. Behind closed gates, surrounded by dense shrubbery so that they were almost hidden, we spotted some cabins dotted up a hill. Beside the gate there was a restaurant with a reception desk and the woman saw us looking longingly up the hill and waved us in. She turned out to be the receptionist for the cabins. They were self-catering but included breakfast in the restaurant. Would we like to view one. Yes please! Zarius stayed with the bags and I hopped, skipped and jumped up the steps behind her to the very top cabin that had the best views of the beach. She hadn't even opened the door and I loved it. It was hidden away surrounded by trees, stood on stilts, had a big braai on the terrace and a massive table. And then she opened the little wooden door and let me in and I was sold. Gorgeous! When I got back down to Zarius he took one look at my face and said 'so I take it we're staying here then'. They only had three nights available and we wanted 5 but we took it all the same. Which was probably a good thing because it was slightly over budget...
Although it was a little, ahem, small for Zarius, it was perfect for me :-)
The restaurant was pretty cool
While all this was going on the sky was changing. Clouds were moving in. The wind was picking up and it was getting cold. Interesting. We pulled on an extra layer and went exploring. It really was chilly. So different to that morning. The place was like a ghost town but there were clues to how busy it must get in high season. Closed market stalls and huts, boarded up beach restaurants, signs for all sorts of water sports but absolutely nothing was open.
The receptionist had given instructions on how to get to the closet supermarket and we set off to get some meat for a braai. The supermarket turned out to be a store that looked like it's shelves contained the original stock from when it first opened way back when. It was big and dark, everything had a thick layer of dust and the fruit and veg section was covered in flies. Of course I was delighted by all of this as I'm sure you can imagine. But, we had little choice and amongst the hardware and dusty shelves they had a very old butchers counter which Zarius declared to be fit for purpose. I personally wasn't so confident but he directed the lady to cut two huge steaks for us and wrap up a de-boned chicken too. We had meat along with some veg to go on the fire (I declared salad off the menu) and we were set.
The next day we needed a chemist to get eye drops and asked a different receptionist where we would find one. Oh there's one beside the big Lider supermarket just over the hill he said. The big Lider supermarket. Really. 20 minutes later we arrived at a huge supermarket, a cafe and the chemist amongst other shops....
Weather wise it never improved. It remained overcast and cold for the duration, so much for chasing the sun! And the cabin was cold. Luckily they gave us a gas fire which I pretty much sat on top of for the three days and seeing as we had gone there to lie on a beach there wasn't actually anything to do without a car so we used the time to plan and write the blog and sort photos etc. It was actually really nice and every night we went to sleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. One of my favourite sounds.
My 'winter' work station
Zarius' 'summer' work station
Although he did concede that it was cold at night and lit the fire
View from the window
When the three days were up we decided not to find another place but instead head to Santiago two days earlier than planned. We were meeting up with my cousin Damien to celebrate St. Patricks day in his Irish bar!