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Santiago. 29.4.15

April 30, 2015

Chilechito. South of Mendoza.23.4.15

It was good to get the blog posted today and a few photos added. The images are quite large and take a fair time to upload with the slow speeds we are finding. Hence not as many as there should be.

We are out of the mountains, down to about 700 metres and experiencing what you could call balmy weather. Cloudless skies and cool but not cold evenings. The cold weather gear has been stored for the time being. I don’t envisage us camping at 5000 metres on this trip so can’t imagine us needing it again.

Tomorrow we hit Mendoza where the main thing is to organize accommodation for the bakkie as well as getting the steering seen to. It is quite noticeable that there are problems when you drive. We need to also try and get our flights home changed. As it stands now we have to get to Buenos Aires, the other side of the country, then catch a plane to fly all the way back again to Santiago whereas Mendoza is a 6 hour bus trip away from Santiago. I slipped up there when organizing the trip.

The last two days driving have been the most unspectacular of the trip we think. Straight roads with little animal and bird life. Our free camp last night was in Valle Grande. One of the highlights for visitors to San Rafael. The call it Argentina’s Grand Canyon. Bit exaggerated  but it was a nice place to stop despite the rubbish in the Municipal Picnic area. All the camping grounds were closed along the canyon, some 8 of them. We were lucky to find the free one.

ACA Camping. Portrerillos. West of Mendoza. 25.4.15

I’m never very good driving in cities. The road rules seem to change from one area to another. I think it’s the intersections that get me most, knowing who is meant to give way to whom. No problems if there is a stop sign or give way but often there isn’t. Today in Mendoza was a good example. The traffic lights were often obscured by the lovely trees that line the streets, the road had a rough surface, many speeding cars passing me, and the bakkie not in the best of health. Throw in the Garmin doing silly things, it was not a pleasant drive and we were pleased when we made it to the camp site.

But there was a bright side on today’s happenings. I had found on a web site a hotel in the city centre that allowed long term parking. I was expecting them to have a garage parked somewhere in the ‘burbs where it could be left. But no, there was an estacion (parking lot) next to the hotel where we could leave it securely for three months, free, as long as we spent one night in the hotel. It was too good to be true. Anita, the receptionist let out a gasp when we sent it would be for three months but said that it would be OK, she was more keen on showing us the room and informing us about the American breakast while all we wanted to know was things like security for the vehicle. It so happened we had already parked the bakkie in the car park where it would be housed while we fly back. So, the hotel rooms were quite ordinary but at $55US a night and free parking for three months who can complain? It all happened much easier than we had expected.

The good side of cities is the choice of happenings that occur there. After sorting out the hotel we wandered across Plaza Independencia to Avenida Sarmiento, a mall, where people were relaxing, taking coffee or eating at many of the outside eateries, a choir was performing at one end, a wonderful trad jazz band entertaining the appreciative crowd at the other end. Very civilized.  The Lan Chile office was closed as was the Nissan crowd so that part of our chores will be attacked on Monday.

After that we headed to the hills, or should I say, foot hills of the Andes where this little town sits alongside a fairly large laguna favoured by para gliders taking advantage of the steady wind that comes off the water.ACA Camping. 26.4.15A day of relaxing. It was wonderful. Warm, hot water, shade, a lake nearby. Just nice to do nothing. Tomrrow it will be back to Mendoza to sort out the car and flights.

We must all be looking forward to a break. The other night at Camping Suizo in Mendoza we were getting ready for bed, I was exhausted after driving around the city for 4 hours trying to find the Nissan garage and this young couple began erecting a tent next to us. No problems there but they had this little dog that  whenever they stepped outside its comfort zone would start yapping. After a half hour of this and fearing they were going to go out and leave him I put my head outside and asked them, in English, if their dog was going to keep this up all night? I’m sure they didn’t understand but would have got the gist. We didn’t hear another bark all night. Then yesterday at this lovely camp site, it was gettting dark and this home made motor home pulled in next to us. Their two kids were playing around then suddenly our buckets were knocked over. Joan let out a yell and told the kid to play in their own area. Of course he didn’t understand but after an hour or so he hesitatingly came up to Joan and asked if he could have back the thing that had knocked the buckets over. She felt a heal and this morning everybody was all smiles. The bakkie is the third of us feeling the long travel. It’s due for a service, has done over 10,000kms since serviced in Trelew and is gasping somewhat. It needs the steering seen to badly as it’s chopping out the tyres and the shockies have gone in the front I think. So, we will be looking forward to a rest.

Free Camp, Portrerillos. 27.4.15

Portrerillos is on the way to the Chilean border, the last two nights were very pleasant, so, as things turned out we thought it a good place to stop off on our way to Santiago some 294kms from the town. Unfortunately the ACA Camping was closed, hence the free camp tonight a short distance from the lake.

The Nissan crowd in Mendoza spent well over an hour looking at the steering, hoisting it up, swinging on the wheels, checking for spare parts in the country, then recommended we go to Santiago to get the work done. There is a block on certain parts coming into Argentina, they are more readily available in Chile and cheaper. They said it was safe to drive as long as I didn’t speed and kept to the asphalt roads. For the second time we weren’t charged for the investigation. Adnam who worked at Renault next door spoke fluent English making the whole episode so much easier. They were a great bunch of blokes and will call on them if we need their assistance in the future if back in this part of the country.

Earlier we had visited Lan Chile to see if we could change our flights but no luck unless we wanted to pay for a new fare. That means us getting to BA then flying all the way back. Bit of a nuisance.

Mito Hotel, antiago. 29.4.15

We took the advice of tthe Nissan crowd in Mendoza and headed across the Andes to Santiago to have the van repaired. And what a crossing. There is now a tunnel at the highest point cutting out some hair raising twists and turns to get over the summit. Even still the tunnel was at 3,300 metres meaning the bakkie was gasping a bit. On the Chilean side 26 hair pin bends saw us to the bottom of the steepest descent even though the mountains still surrounded the valley which the road passed through. Cerro Aconcagua, at 6960 metres, the highest mountain in the Americas was a kilometre or so south of the highway but very visible on the beautifully sunny day. The road leading up to the pass was also so very impressive with rock formations and types so very varied.

Approaching Santiago the smog/haze was terrible. Cutting visibility down to about 5kms. They are crying out for rain here to disperse the haze.

Once againn the Nissan crowd here were brilliant. Augusto spent quite some time on the phone making sure they had the parts and once that was confirmed insisted he wanted the car there and then. With no suitcases on hand it’s always a hassle to get things sorted to move into a hotel but Joan had it all under control quickly. We then had to find a hotel and were guided to the Mito by another establishment. It is olde worlde, right on a very busy street but double glazing does wonders.

Augusto was insistent on having the car quickly as, he informed us, there is a May Day holiday on Friday. They will have it finished by tomorrow.

Not sure where we will head after that.

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From → Patagonia 2015

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