Chile #1 - The start of a whole new journey
Mid-October, 2018 – Length of stay 73 days
To start with, Brett was forbidden to ask where things were but Solene didn’t give him an inventory map thinking it wouldn’t be too hard to find anything in less than 2 square meters. Yes, tension was on! We needed to find a solution to make it work well! We have followed our way of travelling with the little experience we had from Australia and realised it wouldn’t work as well as it had. This included; looking for a camp spot hours before the sun goes down, shopping more often for fresher produce and in different areas to get the best price, planning a daily itinerary, speak a different language… Followed by a good twenty odd fights, we slowly found our own way. Solene didn’t move things as much as she did and Brett was able to find them without asking: a start of a good adventure!
Chile was the first time that we have experienced cold & windy weather in our car built to completely live outside! The strong Patagonian wind blowing off the stove and with real cold temperatures to stay outside and cook with the oven, we had to find an alternative and we rapidly bought a toast sandwich maker. With our Redarc system, we were able to crank it up 2 to 3 times a day! From now on, Solene is a master chef on toasties.
Our experiences with Chileans were nothing but positive and friendly. Although our Spanish was hovering around terrible, they took the time to slow down and speak clearly. Always happy to help out when we needed it.
“The people are so friendly in fact that even when you don’t have the time to stop for a chat, they always leave you their contact details, just in case. In our first week, we parked in the town square of a small village to get some groceries, then we returned we found that a lovely gentleman by the name of Jose Miguel had left us his contact details. But Jose didn’t do the normal thing of leaving a card or paper under the windscreen wiper. I guess he thought that perhaps it might blow away, or it would rain and his note would become unreadable. Not wanting that to happen he took a more permanent approach and wrote his entire name, phone number, home address and email address in pen along the side of out car, right underneath Trepic”.
By itself Chile is a highlight as the country is almost 4000km long (100km longer than Australia) but it’s only really about 150km wide. It’s quite possible to surf a few waves in the morning and hit the ski slopes in the afternoon and still make it home for dinner.
Torres Del Paine; it’s one of those big tourist attractions that you hear of and have an imagine in your mind how it will be. Often in these occasions you feel a bit disappointed. But Torres Del Paine is not one of them, it was incredible. Not just the famous mountains and peaks but all the little things, like the electric blue lakes and rivers, the intense waterfalls, the avalanches, the glaciers & icebergs and the insane wind, we had it all.
Our bloody wheel fell off. Yup that’s right, we were driving along a gravel road in the middle of nowhere, we felt a bit of a wobble and the next thing we saw our back wheel go past us. We snapped all five wheel-studs. That was the beginning of some funny days, firstly we had to sleep on the side of the road for a few days whilst we organised the parts. Then the tow truck came and picked us up, and as we were driving back the fuel tank fell of the tow truck pouring about 150L of diesel onto the road. The driver didn’t seem to fussed, he just cracked another beer and left it there. It took us about 3 days to get all the parts and get it fixed but it could have been worth as the result was only a broken rim.
Food & Booze
If you think that a sandwich is part of the cuisine of a country, you’d be happy in Chile. We weren’t!
They have a few good dishes like the chupe de jaibas (a creamy & cheesy crabs gratin) or the chorrillana which is a plate of chips, fried onions, sliced steak with a couple of fried eggs on top, it sounds dirty and it is but tasty! Overall, we didn’t find the food great.
Chile has a pretty decent wine industry however, holding the world record for the largest average winery has hurt it a bit. Lots of mass-produced wines that don’t really get too exciting. There are a few small producers making some fascinating and fantastic wines.
Chile represents a tenth of Australia where it is super easy to find amazing free camps. Probably due to a lack of land, everything is fenced off with very few decent free camping sites. Even the lakes and mountains are privately owned. It wasn’t until we got to Northern Patagonia that things started to free up in terms of camp but unfortunately, they don’t care and leave rubbish everywhere.