6 Apr 2017

We arrive in Chile

We arrived in Chile yesterday lunchtime (14 days after landing at Buenos Aires) and we love it already, after finding a wonderfully peaceful camp site by a beautiful lake and having a meal cooked by us for the owner accompanied by an excellent bottle of local wine.

The drive across the Andes was wonderful, fantastic scenery and very smooth road. The map showed it as an unmade road, but it has recently been surfaced and except for the odd rough diversion (where the road or a bridge had collapsed) it was very good, which meant we made good time to the border.

We chose to cross at Talca, a couple of hundred miles below the main crossing to Santiago, after tales of 11 hour waits at the border, which was at over 3000m. The way we went there was around 40 miles between the Argentine border post and Chile, both at around 1800m and took 20 minutes at the Argentine side and 40 into Chile, including a pretty thorough search (where they confiscated Chris's Garlic and Cardamom seeds- apparently it is OK to take spices as powder but not as the full seed, so at least she was able to keep most of her spices).

The story so far - When we returned to the UK last November we had hoped to get back on the road in January, but no such luck. The operation to check the cancer got the all clear again but I had some heart issues as they were about to give me the anaesthetic which required various tests. I have had an erratic heart beat for 17 years but it suddenly went into overdrive. However, by mid March I was given the all clear to travel (with a couple of extra pills to keep the heart in check) and here we are!

We landed in Buenos  Aires on Chris's birthday and planned to go to the steak restaurant we ate at first time (where they cut the steak with a spoon) but we couldn't find it! However, we had booked our usual apartment for 2 days and the second day we finally made the open topped bus, had a wonderful beer in the sun just outside Recoleta Cemetery (where Eva Peron is buried) and then finally found the steak restaurant for an excellent steak.

Next day we took the ferry to Colonia and Sandra helped us buy a couple of batteries for the cruiser (when we left we had some electrical issues with the lights so Sandra took it to an auto electrician for us but had a problem with one of the batteries and the auto electrician pronounced it dead).

But our battery issues did not end there, when I switched the leisure batteries on they too were flat and would not charge. I spent the next day in a near by camp site swapping batteries around and charging them seperately and the second battery charged OK so installed this as the main battery and left the other disconnected and we were up and running OK. The weather was absolutely gorgeous so was no real hardship and that evening went for a beer in the sun in the harbour and another gorgeous sunset.

The drive across Argentina was hot and sunny for the first half and torrential rain for the second. We had a day off in Cordoba and spent much of the time dodging heavy showers, but as we approached Chile the sun came out again and we drove across the Andes and bright sunshine.

The drive was not without incident,  whilst driving through a gorge, 2 days before crossing into Chile we were at the end of a slow line of traffic and a car coming the other way veered across the double yellow lines, side swiped us and carried on going!!! We stopped  and found we had suffered comparatively little damage, having a couple of small dents and scuffs and having lost half a wheel arch (which meant also having to remove the mud flap which, whilst in tact, was now dangling by one screw). After 15 minutes or so we doubled back in case the other car had stopped round the corner, it had not, but a few minutes later a car coming the other way (with its driver mirror dangling) blowing its horn so we stopped and it caught up. The damage to the other car was extensive, but we swapped insurance details and carried on! I emailed the agent with all the details and he has passed them on to the insurance company, so we will see if anything comes of it.

So, here we are in sunny Chile (it was cloudy this morning but the sky is clearing with the promise of
 a gorgeous afternoon).

We take the open top bus round Buenos Aires

Visit Recoleta Cemetery

Stop for a beer in the sun close to the cemetery

The famous steak cut with a spoon

Friday was a public holiday in Argentina and it looked like the whole country was out demonstrating against the Government.

Many of the roads had been used as bus parks and were solid with buses for 100's of metres

A beer in the sun on our first day back with the truck

And another the next evening on a beach just up the coast

We walk the streets of a wet Cordoba, between the showers

Damage done by a car crossing the double yellow lines in the middle of the road.

There car came of worst!

We take a detour on a dirt road south of San Raphael

Not far from Chile

We stop for lunch in no mans land between the border posts

And carry on into Chile

A Gaucho just disappearing over a hill following his cattle
The view from the camp site the jetty in the foreground shows where the lake should come to after the winter snow has melted.

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