31st December 2003
After breakfast and packing up the tents, we went out for our last paddle before re-joining the boat at 2pm to take us back to Puerto Natales.
We had the option of either going back in the lagoon or kayaking along the river. The majority chose the latter, so we headed off in the opposite direction to the day before and paddled for about 45 minutes to a waterfall. We got out and walked up to the waterfall itself and then had to head back so as not to miss the boat back to Puerto Natales.
This time we had the top cabin to ourselves, which was great as we were all shattered and it gave us the chance to have a bite to eat and a nap. Mid way through the trip a glass of Pisco is brought round to warm you up - very nice!
We arrived back at Puerto Natales around 5pm and after helping the guides offload the equipment back at the office, we said our goodbyes and made our way back to our hotel, relieved we had already booked somewhere and looking forward to a nice hot shower.
Letti and Luca, from our group, were heading off to Punta Arenas that afternoon and we arranged to catch up with them when we arrived there the following day, whilst Joe was staying in Puerto Natales for a few more days. He had booked a table at a restaurant next door to El Living. It was one we had thought of trying before, so after freshening up back at the hotel, we headed off there, hoping they had a table.
As we got there, they were fully booked but Joe was already tucking into his starter and invited us to join him at his table. We sat down to a welcome glass of champagne followed by delicious food, and lots of Chilean red wine. As midnight approached the atmosphere in the restaurant became livelier. A bowl of grapes were handed around - you were supposed to eat twelve, one for each month and supposedly bringing wealth - followed by a plate of green lentils which represented good health for the new year. As the New Year came in, everyone in the restaurant got up and moved around to wish each other a happy New Year.
It had been a great evening, but it was far from over. One of our guides from the kayaking, Marco, was playing the drums at the local "nightclub", and had invited us all to see him later that night. Our other guides from the kayaking and ice climbing at Glacier Grey would be there too. As is usual in Chile, they were all seeing in the New Year with their families before heading out to meet up with friends at the club. Joe had to get up early the next day as he had a few days' walking in Torres del Paine, so we said our goodbyes and went in search of the club.
Lots of dancing, chatting and drinking followed.
About 4am we called it a night and headed off to our hotel.