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              CHILE  DIARY
 

              12/12 2012 - 11/2 2013        Crappy part (3) 

 

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 Western Argentina

From the Southern Chile,  I now thought I was entering Argentina. Due to a missing piece of paper, things turn real crappy. Murphy WAS an optimist! Only problems and no real adventures.

 24/12. Start the morning making a slideshow of the pictures from Southern Chile. Then, it is of to the Vulcano for a new tire. Wake up the first two, but they do not have the right tire. The next two are apparently sleeping too deep. Well, of to the border. It is right out of town, and we get the papers sorted and go through a desert to the Argentinean side.

 No problems, until they discover; I have a car. They need the paper from the Chilean side, to let it through. Back through the desert, and into the office. Then it turns out, I need a permission from the rental car company - which I didn't get, although I did tell I was going to Argentina, both at booking and at pick-up. The friendly officer call the airport office, and give me the phone.

 I just have to come by their office in Santiago (3500 Km north), pay $300, and I can cross. Not likely! I say bon voyage to the kids, and head back to Chile Chico. Find the telephone office, and call London. They can see, I did request access to Argentina, and tell me to call Santiago again. They either hang-up or refuses to answer the phone.

 After an hour, I call London again, and they try, with same result. They can't advise to do anything, but complain, when I turn in the car. Considering I'm 3-4000 Km south of Santiago, and I rather see the interesting western Argentina, than the same road back - I'm a bit stocked.

 While I wait for Santiago to answer their phone, I try the last two tire businesses, but no luck. I can get a slightly bigger tire for 50.000 pesos, but I'm not game. Try the internet at the camp, to find another Rentalcars office in Chile, but the Wi-Fi is shut-down. End up taking a stroll in the desert-like area outside town, before I try Santiago again.

 They finally answer, and say, I have to call their main office in city. I do: They say I can go to Puerto Montt or Puerto Renas (only accessible through Argentina!). I call them, but they refers to the airport in Santiago. Call London again, but they won't give a dammed. At one point, I have Alamo in the phone, and they put me on hold for 35 minutes before I hang up - yes, I'm desperate! Then it is occupied for more than one hour. I end up paying 28.000 for the phone - without accomplishing anything, but get quite frustrated.

 I swallow the bitter pill, and face it: I have to go way up north again, if I want to go to Argentina - well, I have anyway. Try to find a bite to eat, but all restaurants are closed. Try to withdraw some cash, but the only bank's ATM does not accept Visa. The sun have gone, I have next to no cash, I lost my hitch-hikers, I don't have the single piece of paper to cross the border with, I have no food and I have no spare tire. It is not kosher! All I have ahead of me, is 400 Km of real challenge, serpentine gravel road today, and 1000 KM more tomorrow and the day after. None of this was on my list for Santa!

 It is 15.30, when I leave Chile Chico - no reason to stay. Out in the middle of nowhere, I pick up three desperate hitch-hikers. Israelis, of cause. They get a ride 150 Km to Tranquillo, and I head on. I consider this to be a "transport stretch" and drive fast, without taking too much notice of the surroundings.

 I reach Coyhaique after six hours, quite good in a front wheel driven car with slicks. I'm not only ready for Argentina's endless gravel roads, I'm ready for the Dakar Race! Now I remember: It was the town we used hours to find a place to sleep in, despite the kids spoke Spanish, and it was daytime. Now, it is pitch black, it is raining and most is closed due to Christmas eve.

 Gas up with my last cash, and find my way into the odd centre. It is build around the pentagon Plaza de Armas, with a few exceptions, all roads are one-way and that really make the rest a struggle! I find the big, central bank, but the door does not accept my cards. A lone police officer ask me to park somewhere else, in the empty city's streets. The next bank does not say anything about Visa, but it works! The first success of the day.

 By instinct - or pure luck, I find the street, we slept in last time. I'm not desperate enough to try the 30,000 hostal yet, instead I try the one where the kids stayed: Hospedeje Maria Ester. It is after ten, but for 10,000 pesos, I get a great room, and I even get a free Christmas dinner (-leftovers). Try to see how long there are to Puerto Montt, but Google Maps only suggest a route through Argentina! A bit worn-out, I head to bed passed midnight.

 25/12. Guess I have 480 Km to the ferry, which I'm afraid is a morning connection, and I have to spend a night in Leptepo. It seems like I'm the only guest, and the family owning the place is still asleep, when I sneak out at eight. Breakfast in the car, and I'm of to yet one more transport stretch. I only stop a few times for photos, and hardly look at the surroundings.

 Bounces three Israelis with huge back-packs, but when I passes a single one, in the middle of the huge, mountainous forest, I offers him a ride. He is going to La Junta, just 150 Km ahead. Then, we meet yet two more Israelis, and somehow, we get them into the car. They are not going fare either. In average, we meet a car every half hour, and I get their desperation, in the drizzle. It seems like it is the Israeli "roomspring" after the army to go to Chile and visit specific sights. 

 It seems like people like it my car, and change their plans to keep going along with me. Outside La Junta, I'm forced of the path by a lorry, and hit a hole and a rock. I say: "That's gona hurt in the morning", not realising how right I am. 10 kilometres later, the car sounds bad, and I immediately pull over. There have been no warning lights in the dashboard, and there are no temperature gage.

 I open the hood, and check the oil: Nothing but smoke. Leave the hitch-hikers in the car, and head down the road. Find a farmer, who sell me three litres of oil, back to the car and poor it on, but it goes right through. The stone have punched a hole in the swamp, and the car is dead. I have done 288 Km, most on gravel, but I'm still 200 Km from the ferry.

 Let the hitch-hikers go their way, and start walking the 15-20 Km back towards La Junta, with my most essential gear on my back. A local farmer picks me op after a year, and drops me of, in the village; La Junta. Everything is closed. Most people I meet on the street is literally restless Israelis.

 The fifth supermarkanto is partly open, and I borrow a cell phone from the girl working there. Puerto Montt Alama car rental have no spare car, speak little English, and advises me to call tomorrow. Figures. The "Israeli embassy" is at some cabanas, which is way too expensive for a single person. I try eight of the places with Hospedaje sighs outside, but only the last opens. It is Christmas, but I can't figure where people are!

 Anyway, I get a room with a short bed at hostal Gauchito Restaurante y Hospedaje. It is a well worn-out large house with a combined living room for the three generations of women, and a eight seat restaurant. In a maze behind the living room, several tiny rooms with each a double bed can be found in two stores. I have to do eight corners, and watch my head five. Primitive, but cosy and clean.

 Make sure they have aqua caliente, and I can get something for dinner. All restaurants I have passed have been closed too. The bed is way too short, but at least it is there. I'm not picky these days! There are no internet, but I manages to hack one. I might use the evening planning a way shorter tour - if I have brought the map and book from the car. The replacement car - or AAA truck might be send tomorrow (if I real lucky), but it have to reach the ferry at noon, and I can only call them at nine: They won't make it tomorrow. I'm sure I will get charged heavily for the repair and pick-up truck. Santa have obvious swapped my list with some masochist's.

 I could go for a walk, but it is a greyish day, rather windy and the nature - although pretty - does not offer many interesting plants. I should actually have brought one more jacket from the car, just to wear inside my room. I can stick out my icy fingers, next to the window frame, and here is no heating at all. Well, I ought not to complain: Denmark is having a blizzard, and it is after all 18C here, and the wind should calmed down real soon.

 After a nice dinner and coffee, I pay for that and the room. Can't tell how much they ask, but they look for change on the 10,000 bill I gave them. Of cause, I let them have the change. Here, like so many other homes, a bit of traditional Christmas decorations have found their way. Can't figure how they can relate to Christmas and snow, but that is a common theme.

 Then I go for stroll through the village. It is, like the Hospedaje I'm at, rather scruffy. Even at the central square, several houses are deserted, and the church is no better. The rest only looks that way, with a few exceptions. Here are horses, hens, dogs and a calf in the streets, but hardly any people. I hear a few groups of men, tugged away in a barn or garage with instruments and beers.

 I spot a tall waterfall outside town, but can't reach is: It is behind a private lot, on the 100 metre vertical rock-wall, towering the village. After an hour, I have walked all the streets, and return for a stop next to the fireplace. These are real nice people, and I wished I could speak a bit Spanish. I do understand I'm invited to breakfast, and I set the time. I don't hope I'll be stocked here too long. If so, I got to find some tools, and do a bit of mending on the house, just to keep sane - or as close as I can get.

 26/12. I spend a hour NOT finding a public telephone in the village. Some say there are none, other point their different way. It seem like the only phone is at at some sort of tour operator, and he will apparently only be here in the late afternoon. I try several other places, but no luck. I ask my host, and get her phone. The numbers I have, need additional digits, and not even a local can be sure. When we finally get through to Puerto Montt, they don't speak English at all.

 We try the Santiago number, but it seems to have been disconnected. I ask her to call Puerto Montt and get a number for Santiago, but when I call, they don't speak English either. I make a long drawing, explaining her what the problem is, and ask her to call Puerto Montt and explain. With a bit of luck, that works, and some time tomorrow, I should be picked up - fingers crossed! If that fails, I'm in for a night in the car tomorrow, and back to here at square one, the day after. Anyway, I have at least 30 hours of waiting here, and the rain is pouring down. Nothing to do, but start on a letter to Renatcars.com.

 While heading out for a walk, I'm offered some lunch while I passes through the living room. Hard to say no, gracies to a large, crispy salad, some small, tender steaks and hot rice! Then, I head up-wind of the main road, looking for anything interesting, but despite I do several tours into the fields, I find absolutely nothing! I'm back after three hours, and try the telephone/agent/tour operator to get a confirm, but it is still closed.

 Back to work on linking to larger pictures, and write pop-up text to the photos in the diary - hours of intense work! At dinner, I discover it is at least 10C warmer at the dining table, and I bring the computer. Sitting way better than in the bed, banging my head against to upper-bed. Prepare a slideshow with Orchids, but can't upload it. Then a bit of re-scheduling: Bolivia is out for sure, and the most southern Argentina remain a dream. 

 Most of all, I wished I was stranded in a more entreating environment, and further more: A warmer place! Oh-yes, I wished I could speak Spanish!

 27/12. Just before I set out on the 20 Km walk to the car, I check the telephone/agent/tour operator to get a confirm, and it is open! The guy even understand a bit of English. He try calling several times, and finally, he is informed: They have no tow-truck coming my way, but we can call again after five.

 The local tell me, the road from the ferry are closed to a mud-slide (which I passed), and the ferry is on hold. That means the tow-truck, should they find one, have to go another way. Alternately, here should be a more eastern rout way out on the sea. I don't care, just get me out of here!

 I meet a Japanese guy, who have been living here with his family sins the tsunami and its atomic pollution. He is planning a environmentally friendly home and maybe combining it with a hostal and nature courses. I give him all my thought and ideas to build on to, and wishes him the best.

 He head on, and: Well, I have nothing else to do, so I figure I can check-up on the car and pick-up my warm cloths. I get a ride half way with a local, which speak German (his mother was German). I look for anything interesting along the road, but nothing really catches my eyes. Find my jackets and long-johns, and stay next to the car for a hike.

 It pays of: I soon get a ride with a Uruguay family. The father speak German, the kids English. Real nice family, who have travelled quite a lot! I get of in town, finishing the upload of the orchid slideshow at my "shared" spot, and send a email to Alamo, asking them what I actually is supposed to do. And when?

 Back to Hospedaje to spend yet another night. At least, I won't be freezing. Bye the phone-guy at five, who make the call, and tell me to have the car towed to La Junta, and take the bus wherever I want to go. I get help, finding a tow-truck, pay 40,000 pesos and head out to the car once again.

 He first want to lift it in the back, but that will for sure cost all the plastic bumper. I get him to drew it from the front, but not like I wanted it. I sit in the car, all senses fixed on the very short wire between us. It must not slap! After an hour, we are back, and I then see the front is tern of - great! I leave the key at the friendly phone-guy, and start emptying  the car.

 Every time I head back from the car with gear, I round up some tourists for the Hospedaje. I find the bus ticket office, get a ticket to the nearest, northern town Chaiten. The plan is to somehow get to Puerto Montt and get a car - or fly to Santiago and get a car. If that fails, I do considering going home. I can't reach the sights I want to visit by busses. If it wasn't for the hordes of Israelis, I could try hitch-hiking, but every friendly car is stuffed with them!

 Get back at the now full Hospedaje for a real late dinner, a bit of writing and then the desecration of my belongings. There are no doubt: I have to ditch a lot of gear! I have not packed to hitch-hiking - I haven't even brought a proper back-pack! Give a lot of stuff to my friendly hosts. Tent, food, cloths, Wellingtons, brand new Bolivia book, gadgets, rain suit, pillow, sleeping bag, mug, air madras and more.

 Chat with one of the Israelis I "brought back home". I tell him about my problems, and he figures my name. Hebrew stories are flying round about me. Get way too late to bed, but what?

 28/12. Needless to say; I don't get much sleep this night. Not only was it short, I got too many worries on my mind. Not sure how to reach Puerto Montt, not sure they will supply me with another car. If not, how to continue - or go home. And how much will they charge me additionally for the towing, repair, missing spare-tire and lack of returning of car? No doubt: I'm screwed, question is: How much.

 The bus is almost full: Only the drivers seat are vacant. Eventually, he turns up, and while I catch up on sleep, we reach Chaiten. It is a deserted town: More than half the houses are deserted, and everything is falling apart. We are a lot of people, trying to head on, but today's bus is full, so is tomorrow's. There might be no-shows, and I'm on top of that list. Two hours of waiting: Will it be a bus or a hostal? I kind of wished, I was home in Denmark.

 One of the chaps I fixed up with a bed last night, have found the ferry office. It turns out; there is a ferry an hour after the bus, but I have to buy the ticket BEFORE the bus arrivals. Both voyages are around ten hours. I go for the secure, slightly more convenient ferry. 60% more expensive, but with a bit of luck: Food and toilet along with proper seats - I hope.

 As I return at the bus office to pick up my big bag, it turns out I actually got a seat. When I finally get a bit of luck, I don't use it! The ferry turns out to be rather big, but a bit scruffy - the general theme around here. But as supposed, it offers the essential facilities, except Wi-Fi. There are even movies - synchronized to Spanish of cause. 

 Puerto Montt's waterfront is of international class: Ugly concrete and glass buildings, all new and posh. A bit weird, compared to the warn-out villages I been through just recently.

 The ferry reaches Puerto Montt at half pass nine, and it is too late to go to the airport, way out of town. On top of that, the baggage delivery takes an hour. This is not a tourist town, and accordantly to my guidebook, only a few hostals are found, within a kilometre from the harbour. I join an Austrian and two Swedish back-packers, who look like they have a plan. Within 100 meters, we are at a lovely, older couple, and I share a room with the Austrian. The entire neighbourhood is old, but well maintained wooden houses, just behind the waterfront.

 The Swedes are looking for Spanish courses, and the husband offers them some. They joke about him being the professor, and I discover the diploma on the wall, crediting him for actually being one. Well, in biology, chemistry and nature science. We pay 10,000 each, and breakfast is included at Hostal Suizo.

 A big up-light sign outside the window price "Wiking Rubber" - rain suits. The Swedes clime the honour, but rather large letters say "Denmark". I can't recall seeing it before! I treat my self - and others - with a true hot shower, while my roommate go out to check bus hours for tomorrow.

 29/12. I wake up early, as the only one. At 8;30 there are bit of a rumble from below, and I check-out the kitchen. The wooden house is rather big, and really cosy. Behind it, a small but real intense and well groomed garden is found. During breakfast, I'm told; the bus for the airport does not start from the nearby bus station, and due to my very unhandy bag, I decides to go by taxi.

 Bit hard to leave the cosy atmosphere and the interesting conservation at the breakfast table - not to mention the homemade jam, bread and great cookies. Finally, I drag my selves out, just to find every taxi occupied. Some busses are passing, and I ask a few. One say he is going that way, and drops me of at the marina!

 It is is the wrong end of town, but they call me a cab. Spend the long waiting time chatting with a couple of submarine technicians, working on some communication for the marina. When the taxi finally show up, it turns out we have to go through centre and 15 Km out another road.

 I find the Alamo counter at noon, explain the guy what's happening, and he understand! Then he processes the rest of the queue, and start taking in the phone. When it finally is my turn, he gets the records of, where the car is left, and tells me to call Santiago, regarding a replacement car. It turns out, I have to pick that up in Santiago! Why do they have branch offices? He assures me, that won't cause a problem - we'll see!

 I get a ticket for the first flight going there; 15;40. "Only" 1850,000 pesos, but what can I do? And I can only pay by creditcard, which my company luckily have. I don't feel like spending the next four days in busses! Talk with a couple, who asked for the Argentine permission at pick-up. They was told it would be ready, but they did have to wait four days!

 It feels a bit odd, but if I'm really lucky, I will have a car in the evening, but I'm 4,000 Km north of my desired destination, a week behind schedule and around half a million pesos down. And I still can't go into Argentina without additional waiting and US$300 for the permission! Then it will be the alternately, way shorter route "only" 1200 Km, to the border crossing (three days of driving), and not that fare south in Argentina, as I intended. For that, I would need a Dakar racer - and the crew... And now, I lack the possibility to go camping or sleep in the car.

 Plan B, the one including no car: Store some of my rudely decimated luggage (still 20 Kg), buy a back-pack and new camping gear, and see the warm, northern Chile as the Israelis do. But that will only give me around 5% of, what the realistic, original plan A included! By car, I can easily do two national parks a day. With buses and hitch-hiking, each park will take three or four days - at the best, and not the parks I originally desired! I can, of cause cross into Argentina when at foot, but it was especially the southern part, that holds the sights of my interest (I have seen the northern Argentina).

 The brilliance about my planned tour have gone down the drain. I might see a bit of northern Chile, while waiting for the permit, but I will drive down there anyway, returning from northern Argentina. To reach southern Argentina, I have to drive through central/southern Chile once again  - or the same road in Argentina twice. And I can only get the permit in Santiago, it seems. Newer mind how I turn, I'm facing a wall!

 I use to buy or find a tiny souvenir from each country I visited, which reminds me of the tour. This time, a vacant space, resembling my car, ought to do it. Or a wood carving of a pesos sign with wings? Or an hour glass running out fast and pointless?

 I reach Santiago at five, and find one Alamo counter. He refer to another. Here, they will give me another car, as soon the first have been examined in Santiago. Knowing that might take months, I "hire a consultant", and for just 1,168,045 pesos, I have a new set of wheels. 50% more, than I paid for the first car, and I get no refund! Chewy Aveo LT, automatic gear, kind of scruffy, dark metallic grey and apparently OK.

 Regarding the Argentina permit, I have to pay US$300, and with a bit of luck, I can collect it down-town Monday morning. Else, it will be Wednesday. Only thing to do meanwhile, is to see some of the less interesting things around Santiago.

 I head 100 Km north-west to Valparaiso, a significantly large city. On the way, I pass through endless vine fields. I aim for the centre, and find a huge mall. Food, madras, pillow and tent to replace the ones I was forced to leave, way down south. I buy the cheap, toy-like ones, but have to pay 35,000 pesos.

 Here is a marked with all the local farmers can offer, but I'm a bit too late. A church I pass has not been restored after last earth shake, but the rest of the city have no signs, although here are old buildings. The view to the city by night is real nice. It actually look better at night. Several canyons join at the centre.

 I drive around in the dark city for two hours, trying to find a bed. When I do, it is rather expensive, but I need it! The streets are one way, and most on the almost vertical mountain side. Half pass eleven, I start on a email complaint to Carrentals.com and the diary. Ought to make up a plan for tomorrow... Supper is made-up by a role of chocolate biscuits and tap-water.

 30/12. The city is still asleep, when I head out to the Jardin Botanico Nacional, on the other side of the mountains. It is located in a narrow and very long canyon, and by a miracle; I find it at first go! On top of that: It is open! I do the long walk right through it, out to the Lagunas.

 Fare the most is a more or less natural arboretum, but there are names on many trees. They have an area of Chilean Palms; Jubaea chilensis, and other areas are plants from specific areas, like the remote islands. Besides from a large, black dog, I see none.

 There are a nursery, but from what I can see through the fence, I don't bother to get a closer look. Same goes with the large, partly open cacti house. On the way back through the garden, I see the rose beds, and some others with each their special plants. Some from part of Chile, others colourful flowers. A closed tunnel is for plants that require more humid conditions. At noon, I am sure I have seen everything they can offer.

 Next sight is Parque Nacional La Campana, way out in the mountains. I have no map, and the driving instructions is real bad. I take it as a challenge, and I have nothing better to do. At first, I drive by compass, then I ask a lot of times. Somehow, I drive straight to it - spooky! The sun appears, just as I turn into the entrance road.

 It is a 80 Km2 park, which mainly is made up by dry shrub along a deep canyon. The ranger is real thorough: Name, origin, planed time in the park, water? sun-block?. Then he explains about the trails, and I go for a seven kilometre trail, which Charles Darwin should have made. It leads to a plateau, and I hope for cacti.

 Huge clusters of large Bromeliads and some tall Cereus are the first interesting I find. Then some real beautiful flowers sits in the dry under-wood. Acacias and other plants from the dry regions dominates, but in the bottom of the canyon, the little creak give room for what I think is large groups of Psilotum nudum and perhaps Azolla microphylla.

 Then I find a large, white-green-black orchid in the dry part. Didn't see that coming! A parasitic Convolvulaceae (Cuscuta nitida?). Lizards are plentiful, some almost black, some striped and some bright green and blue. As I reach the plateau, a Mammillaria-like cactus hides under the bushes. I even find one with dark orange-brownish flowers.

 The plateau it self is a disappointment: Just a clearing, and dominated by plastic trash. Not even a good view. I go a bit further, but it is dense shrub, and I can't see anything interesting. On the way back, I try some of the narrow tracks the present cows have made. The loose surface on the very steep hillsides is a challenge, and I don't find anything new. Better luck at the creek, where small pools are the home of some large tadpoles. Bright pink and other yellow Oxalis and Asteraceaes ad colour to the brown dust.

 On the way back to the major roads, I see a little restaurant, and decides to treat my self. It is a tiny, family run place, and one of the other customers recommend me a speciality: Different, real tender meat chucks, a few olives, half a boiled egg and rough grinded corn. All baked in a clay pot. I start with a onion, jalapeņos, tomato salad, and I think the main disk look a bit small. But it sure fills!

 I better head back to Santiago to find the location of the office this evening, before dark. Hope to sleep nearby, and get the permit first thing in the morning. The tour back is smooth too, and I quite soon find Ruta 5, leading towards Santiago. It passes through huge plastic tunnel nurseries, farming vegetables.

 Then it turns dryer, and some of the hills are dominated by Cereuses. Would like to stop, but there are no room along the highway. Other rather flat hills are bone dry, but still the Acacias have found a foothold. I am getting close to Santiago, and I have to admit: I have not been looking forward to the challenge finding the Alamo office. It is luckily Sunday evening, but I ask for directions at least 20 times.

 I see an open supermarket, and buy the alcohol for the burner, sucker, bananas and more water, along with chocolate biscuits for dinner - again. Time to feed the car - a hungry beast, it is!

 When I finally get to the right road, it is one way - the wrong way. So are the next three streets - how stupid is that? It is not a clean grit, and I simply looses the road, and have to start all over. It is at least five kilometres long, and I have been looking for a bed for quite some time. Nothing! 

 I ask a couple with a dog, and they check their smart-phone. The nearest hostal they can find, is five kilometres away, and they even make a reservation for me! People like that, make the world a better place! With the one-way roads in mind, I leave the car, and grab a taxi. Real cosy place, and for 25,000 pesos, I get my own room with bath and breakfast. Kind of lucky, because I forgot the biscuits in the car, and now, I can have my remaining breakfast for dinner.

 31/12. I'm at the office five minutes after they opened, but the permit is not. I can call them at noon; then they know is it is going to be between 17 and 18 today, or Wednesday. Realising I'm on my last T-shirt (some clean ones were left in La Junta), I start looking for a laundry. When I finally find one, it is closed for the day: New Year.

 I'm in a strange mix of huge residential houses and posh offices, and with little to do. I could drive somewhere, but considering how hard this place is to find, I rather stay put. Further more, I have little to see within Santiago, and I'll better save some for the last days of this tour. Fancy cars, maids and delivery guy make up the scenery. Can't help feeling stupid: I'm paying for two cars, and I just parked outside the office. Take a nap at the back-seat for a hour, and then a chat with the owner of the posh house I'm parked in front of.

 It is finally twelve, and I ask for news. They THINK, it might make it today, and I should come back between four and five. Take a stroll down town, checking for new T-shirts. I find a store with second-hand cloths, nice, washed and cheap. I find three T-shirts, and pay what I usual do at home - for new ones.

 Cruises around the centre, which is a real metropolis. Coffee, sandwich, a new pair of sunglasses; the other pair is tugged safe away in my Wellingtons - in La Junta. Back at four, and behold: I GOT A PERMIT!!! Not for the 44 days we agreed, but only 30, but that should do it. No time to celebrate, just straight down to Ruta 5, south. Leave town at five, and find the half million cars, which were expected to go to the beach. Out on the autopiste, traffic lightens up, and I set the imaginary cruise-control to the legal 120 Km/t (-ish).

 Find a local, young guy in a pimped-up car, who apparently have a sixth sense about the locations of the "small green men" with their laser-guns are. We passes 20-30 of these, every time at the right speed. Only one passes us, and he is beamed in for a close encounter at the next "green men's nest".

 My "tentacles" turns off at seven, but then, the little green have been teleported back to the mother hype, and I relax - and speed. After 400 Km, the dry surroundings are shifted to forest. At 21;30, the sun descent, and at ten, it is dark. I got the road to my self, the head lights are good, and I do a Tom Kristensen: Pick up the pace at the night stint.

 Two fuel stops (11 Km/l), eight toll-road checks and a chauffeur-shower at a resting area. I reach Osorno at 22;30 - and average of 120 Km/t. Can't find a hostal nor a camp site, but crash at a gasoline station, among the truck drivers. Struggle to fit-in the child air madras - would have been so great, if the back-seats could be folded down!

Never the less, I actually succeed to get a nice, flat and two meter bed arranged. Only problem is the stink of plastic, which forces me to open the door. Not really warn out, and struggle to fall a sleep. Then I'm waken by the fireworks at midnight, and around two by a green man, asking me to shot the door, so the wind or another car don't catch it. The temperature drops from 35C to 10C, but I cope in the car.

 1/1 2012. Wake up at the first sun bean at seven, and head east, towards the border crossing at Anticura. I feel quite confident, and do a few stops to capture the giant, ice-coned volcanoes, and to make a cup of coffee at the lakeside of Laguna Puuyhue. It is actually a bowl; the mug is in La Junta.

 Just outside Anticura, the small green men have set up a roadblock. They ask me, if I'm on my way to Argentina, and then ask me to turn around. If I not mistaken, the road have been washed away by melting-water, and the pass will be closed for around three weeks. I did not see that one coming! I can use another pass up north, or one way down south. The last includes several daily ferries, and I go for the northern one. It is yet one more de-tour, this time on 750 Km.

 Back thought the lush, green countryside, and as I have been here several times, the pace is up. Villarica which I passes, is really a pretty sight. Well kept wooden houses, the lake side, the towering volcano and first class farmland in the valley.

 Then I reach Parque Nacional Villarica, which at one point was in my schedule. It is dominated by the icy peeks and old Araucaria araucana. The road is strangely perfect most of the way, till it reach the park. Then it is rough gravel. A huge lake add to the beauty. I do a few stops, but I must admit: I'm eager to get into Argentina. I cross the Chilean border at four, without any problems.

 After finally have sorted out my nerve-racking car-problems, my adventures can continue, although the route have been altered and shortened. I head straight for the Argentine border - just to try my luck. The few photos from this crappy part, can be seen here.
 Read about it in Western Argentina or join me for the rest of the Northern Chile.

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