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From Chile to Argentinien

December 2006

Wales close to the Valdés peninsula

A visitor

We picked up Edy's brother Philipp and his girl-friend Vero at the airport in Santiago. On the yellow travelmog we drove quickly southwards to Santa Cruz. A nice lunch and a ride in a horse-drawn cart through the vineyards with some wine tasting was to get both of them into the Chilean mood.

On the program, we had a luxurious sunset and a camp site in the midst of the vineyard. The 2-week- tour led us over dusty, narrow tracks along idyllic lagoons and impressive ocean bays populated by sea lions. But the road also led through green spring meadows and forests that appeared tropical. Snow-covered volcanoes made our picture-taking hearts beat faster.

The barro (mud bath) and the natural spas with its 40 degrees hot and bubbling source outside of Panqui contributed to our physical well-being.

Using the Unimog as a vanguard, we were able to enjoy the drive over even extremely narrow passages thanks to being able to warn oncoming traffic via radio. Bridges, that almost collapsed when just looking at them, were mastered brilliantly by Action Mobil Robusto. We have gained quite a bit of experience in the field of bridge statics. The most extreme passage was one over a bridge with a weight limit of 2 tons, thanks to Allah, it was only a short construction, supported by wood. Weight limits of 8 to 10 tons, however, did not bother us.

Chileans on their way to church were quite surprised to see Edy clear the way for Robusto using his big motor saw.

On the Chiloe island we watched the inhabitants collect algae, fishing and working on the fields with two oxen. What we found particularly remarkable were the houses on stilts and the many wooden chappels with their special spires covered in shindles.

We ended the days on quiet camp sites with wonderful views.

We had two great eventful and inspiring weeks.

It's a small world

When we bought dog food from a veterinario in Bariloche, the customer following after us greeting us in Swiss-German. She had noticed the Swiss licence plate on the Kawi which we had parked outside. When we asked whether she was Carmen Odermatt, she surprisedly answered yes. Some travel friends had given us her and Lino's number and, on the previous day, we had in vain tried to contact her. And now we were standing in front of her. We spent a long evening with the two of them.

Wind in Patagonia

The Patagonian wind often rushes through the country from West to East. Bushels and bushes then lean in the wind and can be used as a sort of natural compass.

We always noted the increased fuel consumption due to headwind immediately.
Sandy gushes of headwind have a sandblasting effect and occasionally fold back the outer rear-view mirror.
Our clothes on the clothes line hang horizontally in the wind, well fixed, of course.
Hats need to be collected in wild chases.
Who needs to pee in the open, better makes sure he is standing in the right direction.
Vehicles with pop-up roofs or even roof tents often had to look for shelter behind a building or in a suitable gravel pit. Fortunately, we did not have to worry about strong winds with Robusto.

Gazoil prices Argentina

At 60 to 70 Rappen (approx. 50 to 60 US cents), gazoil prices in Argentina are generally very cheap by European standards. Since in all the neighbouring countries to Argentina, fuel prices are higher, there has been a new price regulation in force for some months: In the areas of international border crossing stations, vehicles without Argentinian licence plates need to pay twice the price for fuel. A measure to avoid fuel tourism.

Thanks to our large fuel tank, we are free to fill up fuel where we, as long-time travellers, benefit from the price reduction granted to locals. We therefore don't need to pay the tourist price surcharge.

Conserved forest

We left Ruta 3 and drove some 50 km on a good track to visit the „Monumento Natural Bosque Pétrificado". It was late when we arrived at the park entry and the park ranger told us that for our overnight stay we would have to drive 2 km ahead or 2 km back. We decided to look for a camp site some distance ahead. The narrow track was well prepared and after 6km, we found a great place to spend the night, and celebrated the sunset colours and sunset in a large valley basin overlooking a dried out lagoon. Before we visited the fossils on the following day, the ranger informed us that we had taken the wrong track and that we had spent the night in a strongly protected Monumento nacional, which is strictly forbidden. We could be bothered, neither could he.

On the round of a length of 2 km, one can see trunks of the fascinating araucaria, which grow to a height of up to 100 m and can become 1000 years old. They have been lying there for 150 million years, burried and conserved in this location by the ashy rains of the volcanic erruptions of the time when the Andes were created.

The petrified trunks in this fantastic landscape were a great experience to us.

Time is relative.