Chile: Beginning of an End


We entered Chile and headed straight for the coast. Having a bit of an addiction for sea breeze it was time to recharge. We found a secluded surf camp outside of Constitution set next to a pine forest, where finally in flip flops we roamed the beach and the forest collecting a following of dogs happy to join us.

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Shortly after, we ended up in Santiago, where we rented a small apartment for a much needed rest and a chance to fix the car up with some minor things.  Unfortunately things got messed up and our plan of getting the car back in time to pick up Katie and Steve at the airport failed. At least in our own van.

They emerged with impressively small luggage and tanned faces that showed no signs of wear after the 12 hour flight. We jammed into our tiny one bedroom; luckily none of us were shy to share the cosy space or send early morning emails to the next room, inquiring whether coffee was ready.  After a few days of roaming Santiago and the surrounding area it was time to clear our lungs from the smog filled capital.

Santiago neighbourhood
Brett and Steve seem to have a keen eye for food related events. They spotted this food truck feeding fest through a crack in the fence.
The smog of Santiago

Luckily this meant heading back to the coast and double luckily going through Chile’s wine country, where we popped in for a tasting, while Ella caused havoc tied to the fence outside. DSC07807

We settled into our luxurious sea front apartment that had not only one but two heating devices. Covered in blankets and wearing toques we listened to the waves crash while continuing the wine tasting on the balcony.

View of Valparaiso and waves

We spent time getting to know the neighborhood before moving further down the coast for a fresh set of neighbours.

Cheering for Chile on their way to the Copa Americana finals!
Rock Hopping
Wildlife perched on rocks
Other wildlife perched on rocks
Strenuous Dune Climbing
One of many sets of stairs in Valparaiso
Street Art Collage

By the time Steve and Katie were heading home we were all sick with colds or worse, even Astrid caught a bug and would not start, sending us in a panic mode before Brett found the problem.  We parted from our friends heading into warmer lands.  While we headed to the streets of Santiago (well…parking lot at a base of a hill) known as the sleeping spot for overlanders in the city. This would be our last sleep in the strong and fearless van by the name of Astrid.

In the next days we would run around chasing papers and signatures to transfer the ownership to Astrid’s new company. We did not expect to part so suddenly and with such haste, but considering buyer pickings were slim, there didn’t seem to be much choice. So within days and with sad hearts we watched someone else drive off with our dearest Astrid. We only hope he enjoys her company and adventurous spirit as much as we did.

Once of a noble career as a firefighter Astrid left for a life of adventure. Covered with dust inside and out and an extra 44,000 km of mud, rivers, sand and rock, she will forever roam the lands of Latin America.

Here our van adventures come to an end………for now.


June in Argentina


Our only picture of Salta, somewhere on the outskirts and nothing really to do with this lovely city. But here it is anyway, Mr Pancho!

Since Brett heard about the Argentinean grilled meat culture, he was determined not to miss out.   So shortly after we entered Chile, we made a scenic detour into Argentina for about 2000km before entering back. Our first stop was the city of Salta with a population of about 500,000. We were hungry and dehydrated but luckily for us wine was going for 5 dollars at a nearby restaurant. Argentina it appeared would be a great place.

Salta had a lot of character, but we had a bit of a tough time figuring out how things worked, it appeared places either opened in the afternoon or had a 4 hour lunch break mid day. Anyway, everything appeared to be closed at all times. In the meantime as we wandered around various parts of Salta we were having trouble crossing streets, being either too early or too late, than having to run back. We figured the street dogs clearly knew what they were doing, so we followed them.

DSC07486Eventually we had to leave this lovely city. It was time to check out the Argentinean camping culture, where the main event was meat grilling. We headed to the campground where I would break my vegetarianism by eating Bosnian pljeskavice, made by a Canadian dude in Argentina. Technically, I guess I had already broken the vegetarian diet, as at times we ate chicken. However, in this part of the world chicken is practically a vegetable, so I am not sure if that counts.

Much of our driving was spent on Routa 40, which for the most part is a vastness of uninhabited space.


The final destination in Argentina was to take us over a pass back into Chile. This was not happening though, due to the pass being closed for winter.  So, we drove another 400km to the main pass from Argentina to Chile.

Approaching Uspallata

This too was closed due to a persistent snow storm. Along endless rows of truck drivers and a few less cars we waited for it to open. Every day, we tediously showed up at the post only to learn the snow did not stop and it would be at least another day.

It’s risky business stepping out of the van in the mornings if you plan on keeping your cozy spot in the bed.
30 cm of snow later, the scenery took on a different feel



Morning coffee in the making

Once a week went by and the prognosis turned from days to a week, we sought another way to get to Chile.   So south we went, another 600 km to the next border crossing. Frozen to the bone, with wet shoes, a now broken heater and an expired dog permit we hoped they would let us through. And through we went. Once again, happy to be in Chile where the grass is truly greener. (At this time, the main border pass to Chile from Argentina still remains closed with bleak chance of opening any time soon).