Day 16/17/18 – The Last Post

The final days of the tour are done. All 26 members of the tour party are back on New Zealand soil, all present and accounted for. Aside from some bumps, bruises, one dose of the flu and a lot of weary men, all are in good shape.

Day 16 was spent traveling back to Santiago Airport. For the first time on the trip it rained persistently meaning the sightseeing opportunities were at a minimum. Nonetheless, we checked out of the hotel and headed through Vina del Mar and Valparaiso on our way to Santiago. A quick stop at an undercover market for the last few trinkets before the bus ride out. The trip made all the more exciting when we came across a truck that had jack-knifed inside the tunnel we were going through. Our bus driver Renee (who is world famous in Chile apparently) sprung into action. After arms were thrust about in dramatic gestures, and many Chilean men had pushed and shoved the truck, other vehicles were used to drag it back around the right way and we could continue on. Renee was the hero!

The weather in Santiago was also a bit gloomy, so we headed for a super-sized shopping mall where the group could hang out until it was time to go to the airport. The place was manic. Thousands of people swarming everywhere around the massive food court, shops, and boutiques. Some of the boys even met up with friends they had made on tour. After a quick dinner together, we headed for the airport homeward bound. We said goodbye to Fran (our guide from Vina del Mar) and Renee (whose bus driving heroics and charismatic personality will never be forgotten).

Day 17 – Never existed and after many hours of travel, the group arrived back to parents, friends and family on Day 18! Everyone was excited to see us and us to see them.

The final notes…………. It has been a pleasure to have been on this tour with a great group of boys. There have been many, many memorable moments that will be etched in our minds for a long time. Our friendly billets, our welcoming hosts, the loco bus drivers, our fabulous tour guide Victoria and Carolina, the power and purity of Iguacu Falls, the crazy football fans at San Lorenzo and the passion for football across the countries we visited – the list is endless. The learning experience both on and off the field has been a huge success.

Through it all I have laughed, grumped (occasionally), been encouraged and impressed by a group of young men who have done themselves, their families and their school proud. The numerous comments I have received from our host families and schools, the guides, and random strangers, have all commended the boys highly. Oh yeah – we played some pretty good football too!!

Thank you to everyone who has supported and made this tour possible. To our tour sponsors, Jade at Educating Adventures, Victoria, Carolina, Mr Andrew Moore and Mr Kevin Harris, parents, friends, family and the College – THANK YOU!

Hasta luego amigos

Corti out.

Day 15 – It’s a Familia Affair

We had a great day today. It started with sightseeing around Valparaiso – one of the most important ports in Chile. Home to the largest Naval base, shipping and kaleidoscopic buildings made it a unique place with some stunning vistas. The funicular ride from the base of Valparaiso to the top had a few of the boys worried. With the dodgy wooden trolley and suspect engineering on the rail – it was fair enough. However, once at the top the views and quaint market made it worth the risk. Llama scarves and Alpaca jerseys were the trend of the day. When then headed downtown to see some of the historic buildings in the main square. The most impressive being the main Naval building in it’s striking blue/grey colour.

After lunch at the hotel we headed to Colegio Sagrada Familia for our last game of the tour. We received a very warm welcome as the students – both boys and girls! – came out to the gate to greet us. They showed us around their small but charismatic school and chatted to the group before the College boys performed a haka. A short bus trip to the ground with our Familia counterparts on board made the atmosphere building up to the game really friendly, enjoyable and social.

The game started at a fast pace with both teams playing football that was very pleasing to the eye. College did well given the composite collection of players that started the match. Sagrada Familia opened the scoring after Conrad Fleischmann (called on to play goalkeeper as both others were injured), made a fantastic first up save only for it to ricochet of Oliver Scholz into the path of an oncoming striker. They then went 2-0 up after a good cross and finish. Fleischmann made several good saves to keep College in the game and some key substitutions gave College more momentum forward. Thomas Barlow pulled one back finishing off a good passing move. He had also gone very close hitting the upright just moments before. A thunderous free kick from Thomas Wright made the score 2-2 before the Sagrada Familia captain scored with an equally impressive free-kick to give them the win 3-2. A great game of football, played in a spirit in stark contrast to the day before – thoroughly enjoyed by everybody. Yummy cakes and colas finished the afternoon of perfectly with our new friends. A  wonderful affair all round.

DAY 14 – Great Unexpectations

This morning we said goodbye to our billets at Dunalaistar and to our two guides Victoria and Carolina. We said hello to our new guide Fran. We then headed off to Vina del Mar – a little under 2hrs by bus. We drove through some beautiful countryside and several valleys full of vineyards.

On arrival into Vina del Mar we were amazed at the sheer size of the place – not what we expected. The hillsides of the coast were full of houses, apartment blocks, tall hotels and other buildings. Yes, the coastline included Vina del Mar, Valparaiso and Renaca, but still – it was quite an amazing and unexpected sight. Another unexpected sight was the pod of pelicans that greeted us at our lunch stop before we headed to the beach.

The cooler weather today meant the beach was fairly empty, which actually worked out well for a quick game of beach football (or wrestling in some cases…….). The water way too frigid for any swimming as some boys found out. Also unexpected today – the random dog that lay on the beach to sleep, right in the middle of the game!!

Our afternoon fixture was against Mackay School. It was a rough encounter with some questionable tactics used by the opposition that disrupted College’s style of play. Thomas Barlow, Thomas Wright and Minchan Park all started in what would probably be their last game in College colours together. The game began well with both teams playing good football. College conceded two very good goals as Mackay managed to slip the College defence, but then the game got messy as mentioned above. Louis Loader played his best game of the tour with some stout defending. College eventually losing 4-0.

Tomorrow we hope for warm sunny weather as we head along the coast to see the sights and have our final match of the tour…….

DAY 13 – More Chilli than Chilly in Chile

Today was probably the warmest day we have had on tour. It was hot. Real hot. The walk up Cerro San Cristobal in the morning was a bit tough, and the extra warmth made it a good workout to start the day. The view form the top though was amazing. The only downside was the realization of just how much smog hung over Santiago. We knew it was an issue from one of our previous talks, but seeing it hanging around was an eye-opener. The beautiful mountains and scenic view surrounding the basin that Santiago sits in, partially masked by the pollution.

At the top of Cerro San Cristobal sits the iconic 14m high statue of the Virgin Mary. Chile is a predominantly Catholic country – so this statue has very special significance to them. it was a peaceful place to rest at the top of the climb. After we descended, we headed to El Pueblito Los Dominicos – an artisan market where we had a look around the amazing craft shops and had a much needed cold drink.

The afternoon involved some time at our host school Dunalaistar School before we kicked off our game. Dunalaistar started the much stronger, and after some lazy defending, College found themselves 0-2 down. With fatigue, tiredness and the heat a bit of an issue today, College rotated a number of players around. The rotations also made it a bit tough for the team to gain some momentum. However, after College started to tighten up at the back, the excellent movement forward resulted in some pressure on the Dunalaistar goal. Eddie Wright scrambled a goal in after some good work through the midfield from Ben Wade. Wade worked hard in midfield and along with Thomas Barlow and Jharn Stevenson, they created some further scoring opportnities as the game went on. Dunalastair scored an excellent goal right on half-time and one not long after. College did fight back with an superbly crafted goal. Theo Manji found space out wide and delivered a beautiful cross to Jharn Stevenson who just had his fine header saved. Boris Marinov cleaned up the scraps and popped the ball into the net. Final score 4-2 to Dunalastair.

Tomorrow the tour group heads to the beach and coastal town of Vina del Mar for the final part of the tour……. we also say goodbye to Victoria and Carolina (our tour guides) and meet Francisca who will be with us the rest of the way. Victoria and Carolina have been simply the best. Always laughing and cheering for us, have looked after us really well and nothing has ever been too much trouble. We will miss you linda chicas!

DAY 12 – Something Smells Fishy

Today we departed from The Grange and headed off on a days sightseeing in Santiago. We spent the day looking around this surprisingly modern city that has many parks, business areas and growing developments. A much more ‘equally distributed’ city than Buenos Aires. We spent the morning in downtown or central part of the city looking at the most historical parts of the city. Here the boys also got to work on their Scavenger Hunt set by Mr Cortesi.

Plaza De Armas was the starting point of the walking tour that took in the presidential palace, Catedral Metropolitana (one of the oldest buildings still existing in Santiago that hasn’t crumbled), the main post office (a building of architectural significance) and Mercado Central. At Mercado Central the boys saw how seafood is an important part of Chilean culture and economy. The country is famous for it. The spectacular fish stalls proved that – even if they were quite smelly. The group had lunch at a fish restaurant within the market, with many of them trying some of the local fish.

After lunch is was a quick pit stop to try the best helado (ice cream) in Santiago -it was pretty good to be fair – before taking a bus ride through the different parks and suburbs of the city. The ride ended at Dunalistair School where the boys meet their next and last billets of the tour.

DAY 11 – Its A Bit Chile

It was certainly a bit cooler this morning……. clouds hovered over the mountains that formed the backdrop to our host school on our first day in Santiago. An early start for the group, with as per the rest of the tour, the boys joined their counterparts for some lessons to see what school at The Grange was like. Eddie Wright was not convinced that his physics lesson – spoken in English – was any easier to understand than it would have been in Spanish. The coaches unpacked all the lost baggage that had turned up overnight. We also had a look around the campus and heard about some of the history of the school.

There were also two games played today. One game kicked off after the other and both schools put out two different sides. College won the first game 3-2 in a very entertaining encounter. Jharn Stevenson had a very good game and his combination with William Mitchell provided the momentum for many of the College attacking moves. George Fitzgerald continued to improve greatly on this tour and defended very well again. Theo Manji and Thomas Wright scored the goals for College, both finishing well. College deserved winners with a good performance.

Oliver Scholz scored a great headed goal to earn a College a draw in the second match. After being behind 0-2 for a large part of the match, College fought back well and after Eddie Wright had poked home to get College on the board, Scholz got the goal College deserved after going close moments before. The upright preventing College form winning the match. The Grange team brought speed and physicality to the match, which College struggled to contain at times. Ben Wade did a lot of work in central-midfield to break up as much play as possible, and was assisted by another gritty Thomas Barlow game. The game proving to be a good lesson on physical presence, hunger for the ball and strong challenging. Something for the College players to consider. 2-2 a pleasing result in the end.

DAY 10 – Lost in Translation

A travel day today for the group as we head from one country and onto another. We left Buenos Aires and flew to Santiago. A lot of lost time at the airport today unfortunately. Also unfortunately today, we arrived in Santiago, Chile, but our bags did not. Parents don’t worry we are onto it……….. after some discussion with the airport staff, and with Mr Cortesi’s limited grasp of Spanish, we were able to start solving the problem. Our tour guides, Victoria and Carolina were called in to help the translation. Only problem is the bags were nowhere in Santiago airport or Buenos Aires where we had left from.

After some lengthy discussion, we arrived at the conclusion we could do no more at the airport and headed to The Grange school to meet our our hosts for the next two nights. The were very welcoming and have assured us our boys will be well looked after tonight and will help out with clothes, toiletries etc. until our bags turn up. The lucky ones (Barlow, Mannis, T. Wright, Stevenson and Mr Cortesi) are all set. The Grange staff have been great in making sure everything is organised for the boys. We have two games against The Grange tomorrow afternoon and will spend the morning in school doing activities.

At the point of posting, the tour guides have made more progress with our luggage – it seems to be headed to Peru. Hopefully it will arrive here in the morning.

UPDATE: The bags are found!!! They are on their way from Buenos Aires and will be delivered to the school in the morning. Sleep easy.