March 5th, 2013
We woke up this morning and the fantastic weather we had been having had come to an end. It was raining lightly and generally gray and dreary. The coffee press exploded and burned me when we tried to make coffee (can’t find French press grind coffee, or decent coffee for that matter). One of those days. I think all of us (Roger, Susanne, & Casimiro) were feeling a bit low today. Casimiro’s oil light was blinking on and off as if to say, “enough is enough guys.” It had been a really hard, bone-jarring few days.
Carretera Austral had proven to be more difficult than expected in the Sprinter van and although the scenery has been fantastic, the driving has been so loud, so pounding and so full of concentration, it has worn us all out.
We are about 2/3 of the way through our adventure and it has been a really good adventure, but it is clearly starting to wind down. We now are thinking of the plan in terms of making sure we count back from when we need to be in BA.
A few thoughts about home have started to creep in. We found out that Sadie had chewed up a shoe, which made me really home sick for my dogs and made me feel bad that Sadie was feeling stressed. She’s a pappa’s girl through and through and I’m sure there will be hell to pay when I get home. I’ll be anxious to see my friends and tell them stories when I get home, which of course I will not embellish at all. Even a few thoughts about work started to weave their way in my consciousness. Bummer.
I have always enjoyed really long and challenging trips like this. They are exciting, refreshing, and tiring all at the same time. I am sure that by the time I get into seat 8A on the return flight, I will be happy to be heading home. I find these trips to be a lot like a long bike ride. You get emotional highs and lows along the way and if you can work through the low spots, the highs just seem that much higher. Today the batteries were a bit low.
The good news is that we had an easy (on pavement) drive into Coyahuique, which is a huge town of 50,000. Our plan was to go into town, get some supplies, find a nice place for lunch, chill for a bit and plan our schedule for the coming days. It continued to be a pretty grey day with off and on rain.
We found the market, which was huge, and bought some food. Both of us were really lagging on energy. The thought of another 300 km of Carretera Austral dirt was getting us down. Plus the weather forecast was for rain all week and the travel book indicated that the road is often closed when it rains.
Susanne had scoped a nice hotel for us to have lunch so we drove there. It was a bit early, so we just sat in their nice lobby area on the couches, sipping a coffee, charging the electronics and checking emails. It was quiet and really fit what we needed. We had a very nice lunch of salmon. Susanne’s green salad looked wonderful and her face literally perked up when it came out and was set in front of her.
We chatted about the upcoming plans and both decided that we were going to throw in the towel on Carretera Austral and head east over the mountains back into to Argentina. This would give us much less dirt road and hopefully get us out of the bad looking weather pattern on the west coast.
Both of our spirits perked up. Then we had some nice chocolate mousse that improved things further.
We headed east out of town toward Coyaihique Alto and the border. We had seen on the map that there was a campground just before the border. After about 20 km, we found the campground and pulled in. It was empty except for one car and looked quite nice. We decided it was our home for that night. I was relieved.
I have to say that the Chilean campgrounds are really quite nice. Very much like Canadian and US campgrounds where you get a lot of privacy and they are well integrated into the nature of the environment.
We took a walk through the beech forest to an uninspiring looking lake. It started to rain, but it felt good to move the bones. I was really feeling tired. Susanne was talking at me in Spanish on the way back. I was too tired to be able to think in Spanish. We got back to Casimiro and I took a nap while Susanne listened to her audio book. I figured a half hour lying down would be good. Evidently I was snoring for 1.5 hours.
Tomorrow is another day and the day of rest and chilling will be good for the spirits. We are headed north to the lake region of Argentina, which is supposed to be spectacular. The good news is that most of the driving will be on pavement. Casimiro is very glad as I am not sure how many more screws he can lose before he can’t go any further.
Ciao for now.