Tres motores broke down blues // Chile
In the last chapter of our tale of engine troubles, we pulled our Subaru 2.2 engine out of our VW Westfalia. In most other countries, besides Chile, Subaru’s are rare to non-existent. Behind the USA, Chile has the largest selection of the 11 countries we have visited; anywhere else would have made things much more complicated. So, if one could choose a place to be broken down with a blown Subaru motor, Chile would be it.After pulling out the motor we discovered a small crack on top of the block where oil was leaking out and ultimately seized the motor. (adam had been adding oil and wondering where it was going!) We initially said we wanted to put in a refurbished motor, and the shop called around to Iquique, where there is a large duty-free zone and the hub of imports from Japan. After hours of calls, they said the best they could find- with delivery to La Serena and instillation- would cost us $2,000USD, ouch. Gabriel, the owner said they could rebuild our motor for $1,200USD AND have us on the road in 5 working days. Ok, we said, you make it happen.
Our magical blue plastic tub came out to double as a swimming pool for Colette’s late afternoon delight; we say magical because for a product so mundane, it is virtually indespencable for life on the road- serving as a storage bin for damp wetsuits, chairs and other beach gear, swimming pool/ bathtub for Coco, laundry tub and a dish- soaking/washing station when we procrastinate enough to warrant.
Out the motor came and the mechanics set to dismantelling it into pieces to be sent out for repair. Adam watched like a hawk over the whole process, testing the limits of his Spanish and learning a lot in the process. He spent countless hours online- talking with mechanic buddies for tips and insights (thanks David & Mike!), then pouring countless hours over reading blog threads on the process so he could learn as much as possible.
There are much worse places to be stuck. Wifi, cold only shower (supplemented by hot water from our Swiss Army solar shower), washing machine and plenty of sunshie to air dry clothes. A short walk to the green grocer, a mega grocery store, mall, circus and carnival.
We set off for a day at the nearby port town of Coquimbo while parts were out to be machined. We hopped on the local bus and cruised the smooth Pan-Am, wishing it was our own bus we were riding in. Coquimbo is an industrious little town that smelled like fish and had a great park for Colette to enjoy. A major difference from Peru to Chile is the quality of public offerings; Chile’s parks are numerous, modern and clean. At the pier, a few Pirate ships swayed in the current. Hawkers yelled the boat was about to depart, happy families on summer holiday shuffled aboard in orange lifejackets, for their tour of the bay. Sea lions swam amongst the fishbones and guts tossed over the shoulders of surly fish mongers, carefully choosing their morsels from the many options.
A narrow building housed 50+ seafood vendors and restaurants, the heavy smell of fish clogging our nostrils. Coco, scrunched her nose & pinched it shut, looking wide-eyed at all the dead fish. Rows of ceviche- some of scallops, some sea urchin, some god-knows-what, rested on trays for the hungry hoards. Adam met these friendly two, who poured him some cold white wine and swayed from the few they had already enjoyed. We sat outside in the warm sunshine and had the Chilean vegetarian go-to ‘meal’- the cheese empanada. A tasty fresh-made juice, homemade hot sauce and sorbet for dessert somehow filled in the gaps for the lack of options that usually accompany most restaurant experiences as a vegetarian on the road… and forget about vegan options. We found Nemo <<sad face>>. Between the fish market and the port we found the real locals scene. Small speakers stretched too far were pushing out radio beats, competing with the sound of laughter.
Coco has always been and remains, a major animal lover. No matter how mangy the animal, she only sees the love in their eyes. This doggy was so thankful to have her affection, he closed his eyes in near ecstasy. One evening Emily asked Colette what she wanted for dinner & she excitedly replied “eggies!” So she made a “junkyard stackup”- quinoa and rice topped with grilled zucchini, onion, portabello mushroom and red pepper, layered with a fried egg in the middle, hot sauce, tahini, and dill lending some fresh middle eastern flavor. Ahhh, junkyard life at its finest.Making her Papa proud beyond her knowing, Colette requested a surfboard for her 3rd birthday. “You KNOW I would make her one if we were back in Cali” Adam lamented. We found a couple options and Colette chose a lavender kickboard. With an ear-to-ear grin and happy wide eyes, she rushed to tear off the plastic wrapping and exclaimed “lets go to the beach!!” And so we did.
3 with an exclamation mark, not 31 as it kinda looks. Colette’s birthday dinner- asparagus, garbanzo beans, cucumber & goat cheese is all it takes to make our little ‘ambassador of love & joy’ a happy girl. To celebrate, we got tickets to go to the circus & Colette said she wanted to be a clown! This circus, from Guadalajara, Mexico, is traveling all over South America and put on a fun show. Making the most of a small company, we saw many performers multi-tasking. Many of these cha-cha dancers were earlier selling popcorn. Colette’s favorite part was the ‘talking car’ (a character from the movie Cars, but she had no idea); there was also a transformer, which was a small fork-lift with some hilarious build-outs.
Adam & Emily most enjoyed the grand finale- ‘the cage of death.’ A duo of riders brought their smog spewing two stroke motorcycles into the big top, revved their engines and as the spotlights focused in- they zoomed in circles around each other inside the steel sphere. They stopped for their applause, then another rider joined them. It seemed too tight for 3 motorcycles to avoid collision inside the ring, but they circled effortlessly. As the grey-blue smog of the three riders settled, a fourth joined them on the ramp, and they all piled into the ring. Emily winced at the thought of what catastrophe was sure to come. Thankfully it was just a good spectacle and no first aid was issued. It was a grand finale indeed!Across the street from the circus was a carnival! Colette could hardly contain her excitement and her little clown face twinkled in the rainbow flashing lights.
Earlier that week, the propane had run out for only the 2nd time in our 15 months on the road. Raw or mostly raw food is no problem in the cool weather, but Colette had been plotting about what kind of birthday cake Mama would make her for weeks. This bakery-bought cake, topped with coconut did just fine. Two and a half weeks after we first arrived on a flatbed tow truck, the repaired engine was in & we set out on a test-drive. Hooray! Just inland from La Serena is Valle de Elqui, known for Pisco distilleries and UFO sightings. In order to learn to surf, Colette must learn to swim, so she is very motivated and practices dunking her face under the water.
As perhaps you have noticed or read elsewhere, Emily is pregnant! We are excited to welcome this loved little girl to our tribe in early June. Yes, we are planning on remaining in South America for delivery- the benefit of traveling will be dual citizenship for this little bambina!
Weeping willows dipped their fronds into the waters, as dappled light made its way onto the sandy banks. By afternoon, memories of life in the junkyard were washed away as we baptized ourselves in the cold fresh water of the Rio Claro at Refugio del Angel. Spotted this sweet 6X6 Pinzgauer and met the Swiss owners. Much like a Swiss Army knife, this is a well designed “action mobil.”The following morning, we departed Pisco Elqui, hearts full and ready to make some miles towards Pichelemu & the coast to the south of there to enjoy a few weeks surfing before Emily’s parents came for a visit. Just 15km shy of La Serena, as we were talking about how great the motor felt, an awful noise stopped our conversation. Emily asked if our muffler had fallen off, Adam just replied “Nope, we are fucked.”
Oil gushed from the bottom of the van, and as the engine compartment was opened we saw an egg sized hole on the top of the block. Emily walked to a nearby farm and arranged for a flatbed tow-truck to bring us back to the shop. As it was Saturday and the shop is only open half-day, we had the driver call and warn the crew we were returning. Upon arrival, they paid for the tow, and pulled us aside saying not to worry, that they would take care of everything. Feeling depressed but thankful to have not to argue with the hot-headed speed-talking owner Gabriel, we watched Elvis & Don Nivaldo remove the engine… for the second time. Yeah, ok guys, have a nice weekend- see you Monday.
Monday morning came and we took the motor apart revealing a thrown piston rod and exploded piston. The shop passed blame onto the machine shop that resurfaced the crankshaft below.
Metal shards are not what you want to see in your oil pan.
There was no saving this motor- Chile has Subaru’s, but the 2.0 is standard here. With nearly a week of searching, we finally located another 2.2 engine to replace our unsalvageable one for $400 in La Serena- not $2000 in Iquique like they originally told us. The shop bought the used motor and Adam insisted we open it up, although the shop said there was no need- it was fine. This is as much as they would open it to have a look inside.
The pistons looked good and tight. Adam did most of the work cleaning the exterior for the motor while the owner of the shop disappeared on vacation with the money we had paid for the first repair job. Not quite the attention you would hope for after such a catastrophic failure.The wonderful thing about Westy life is the self-containment we bring wherever we go. Home is where you park it. Colette has learned to be highly adaptable and truly is the light of our life. With a roll of paper and some India ink, she is as happy in a junkyard as she is in a 4 star resort. That confidence and joy is contagious and we are reminded to stay present and thankful for the many blessings we have in our life, especially in the face of frustration.
Emily continues to enjoy cooking for the family, including the 4th member, whom Colette has nicknamed “Baby Spider.” Pregnancy “cravings” are hard to fulfill on the road… oh, what I wouldn’t do for a Tacos Villa Corona burrito with hot sauce, an almond croissant and latte from Intelligentcia, some proper Thai food from Ruen Par, a Ceasar salad (made with vegetarian worcestershire and no anchovies!) and oozy slice from Pizzanista! …but life on the road (especially as a vegetarian) requires inventive solutions. Here are veggie sloppy joe quesadillas topped with a cucumber-avocado salsa and siracha; below is some chocolate bread with bananas, orange marmalade and shaved bitter chocolate on top.
After 4 weeks of living in this junkyard motor #2 goes in.Lets get outta here!The scenery quickly changed from the Atacama desert into a temperate landscape remniscent of California’s north and central coast. We found a perfect camp spot just outside of Zapallar, where the locals were sure to be chill. The cemetery was one of the best kept we have come across. Hey Colette… “How many dead people do you think are in here?” “Every single one of them.”
The cypress trees were glowing a magnificent orange color, which we thought might be a mold or spore, but were later told it is natural (but still think its a weird mold or something).
Up early, we set out into the misty morning for a wonderful day. At Santiago Int’l we met Emily’s parents Warren & Suzie (aka Granpere & Oma) at the gate. Colette ran towards them, but when they spotted her & stooped down for a hug- she froze like she was suddenly unsure if they were really real… she is so used to seeing them on a small screen via skype, seeing them in person was almost unreal! She quickly unfroze into her normal extroverted self and had all sorts of everything to tell them. Our first destination was the cabin at a private property called Puerto Azul in Cajon del Maipo, an hour or so outside of Santiago. When we pulled in, ahhhh, big happy sigh from everyone, we found the place just dreamy. Hot tub and pool were immediately inaugurated. A warm summer breeze floated through the canyon, we all chatted and laughed and hugged.
Thanks Katin for hooking up some new threads and these great swim trunks!
First thing out of Colette’s mouth every morning for the next 12 days was “ I wanna go see Oma & Granpere!” as her bright eyes flashed open and she hopped out of bed. Yes, go ahead little sprite, they want to see you too!
Warren & Suzie also brought a giant suitcase filled with all sorts of goodies. Clothes & toys for Colette, a few maternity clothing items and protein bars for Emily, random items we ordered from Amazon, See’s candy for ‘baby spider’, and some new gear for Adam. These Danner Crater Rim GTX boots arrived and Adam stepped right into them. He happily reported they were already comfortable and needed virtually no breaking-in. In the bag of goodies was this rad new Westafari t-shirt from GoWesty!The bright sky filled with fluffy cumulonimbus clouds that draped the valley in a dramatic play of light and shadow.
Back down the canyon, we headed to Baños Morales for a soak in the ochre colored thermal ponds. More cool than warm or even hot, it was a refreshing dip after a warm day.
The majestic marigold color is from the local mud that is said to ‘firm and tighten’.
Coco & Emily enjoyed painting themselves up before really getting covered in the ochre paste.
The eye delights in the play of scale. It is as if the mind can’t keep up with logging all the dramatic beauty that fills the scene of each corner turned.
Adam testing the waterproof capabilities of the boots in river. His previous pair would absorb moisture, remaining damp for hours, leaving his toes soggy and white by the days end. The results? Even after a few minutes of total submersion, his feet remained dry and comfortable- hooray!
Since Oma & Granpere arrived just 2 weeks after Coco’s birthday, we re-celebrated. Who says you can’t have more than one party? Certainly not us!
Confused when we dimmed the lights & happily surprised when she spotted the cake, Colette sang along to the birthday song and blew out her “numbah tha-reee” candle that she had been toting around in her toy bag as a proud badge since its last lighting.
Being the adoring (and spoiling) grandparents they are, Warren & Suzie got Colette a LeapPad along with a bounty of learning games. Adam & Emily are especially grateful that they also got headphones! (And don’t worry y’all, we will ensure limited screen time for this burgeoning mind.)
The guys & Coco took a morning walk down to the river, discovering Coco’s favorite ‘tickle plant’ along the way. The sound of this girls laugh is a serum I wish we could bottle and sell, I swear it is a cure-all.
Chile is filled this time of year with blackberry bushes that grow rampant. In the height of summer, we have been eating the spoils available and filled a large bowl to eat with granola for breakfast.
Along the road, we encountered this tunnel, where a memorial for a dead teen, passed 10+ years ago spread along the fence.
As the paved road ends, signs of modern trappings fade away and simple rural life reigns supreme. This farm was teeming with goats, ducks, & horses, as well as plump grapes on an arbor, rows of corn, tomato and other veggies in the patch.
It is a blessing to be reminded of how small we are on this great planet. May we all learn to tread a little lighter on our beautiful mother.
When Adam spied a perfect precipice overlooking the mineral rich turquoise waters of this glacial lake, a mischevious grin spread across his face. If you know Adam, you know how infectious this signature grin is… and also what fun and equally insane thing must be coming next. “Cliff jump!” he proclaimed, bounding across the rocky slopes to suit up.
With booties and his Matuse wetsuit, he leapt from the rocks into the water that not too long ago was a frozen glacier. He popped up from the water and shouted “ice cream headache!” through a shit-eating grin, then climbed the cliff for another go.
El Yeso, just a few hours from Santiago, is a world away.
We are so thankful to have family that can come & visit us; it is like fertilizer in the garden- our blooms seem to be brighter when we have even more loved ones to share it with. Sending SO much love to the rest of our wonderful family. You are always in our hearts and with us in spirit!
Adam, Emily & especially Colette (we know who they are really coming to visit) have ‘forced’ Warren & Suzie to stretch their travel destinations of choice. Since our departure 16 months ago- this is their 3rd visit- the first was Costa Rica, the second Peru, and now Chile. Seeing as ‘baby spider’ is on the way means they will be scheduling another visit to South America to meet their next Grandbaby.
Marshy meadows filled with green grasses, as streams made their last stretch towards El Yeso. We saw a father and young son casting their fly fishing poles into the waters as the sun started tipping towards the saw-toothed peaks on the other side of the glacier carved valley and Adam wished he could teleport his Mom, Ellen, who has been practicing her fly-fishing cast at the Rod & Reel Club of Los Angeles- here to join us!
Sleeping in, allowing perpetual early-riser Granpere to have some solitary time with his Coco, we were happy to share her early morning sweetness. The ‘challenge’ with staying at such a lovely place and with two of our favorite people on the planet is its hard to find reason to leave the patio. We eventually made it over to Santuario de la Naturaleza Cascada de Las Animas, which is a privately held reserve that was built to block a natural gas pipeline heading through the Andean precordillera into Argentina. Carefully perched above the river, the restaurants patio offers views of the churning waters below. The food was delicious and even had tasty veg options to boot.
Adam ate & departed quickly to go river rafting. He brought his Matuse wetsuit and geared up with 7 others for an afternoon on the class III & IV rapids. It was a Saturday and the grounds were packed. Colette sniffed out the playground, so Mama & the grandparents watched her go to work. There were no horseback rides available that day, which Colette accepted reluctantly, petting the Shetland ponies noses longingly. We sliced an apple we had picked in the yard of the house into three sections, one for each of the horses. After we fed the happy horsies, Emily asked the pony-leader if Colette could sit on one for a minute. He happily hoisted her onto the pony of her choosing. A moment later, he opened the corral, slipped a helmet on her head and led her on a short ride. Oh, the joy! Thank you kind person, you made a little girl very happy.
Adam grew up in an off-the-grid cabin built by his parents with a wood burning stove just like this. With fond memories, he gathered wood from the surrounding area and set us up with a snappy fire that radiated warmth about the cabins first floor.
At Mercado Central, Warren got his first glimpse at one of Chile’s main exports- seafood. Suzie, Emily & Coco waited nearby, choosing to side-step the dead aquarium.
After viewing the rough options, Warren ordered up a jumbo Chilean crab- centolla, which Adam altered his new vegetarian diet for, as it was fresh, wild caught and (relatively) local.
The old with the new make a striking contract in the modern and bustling center of Chile.Colette practicing crossing the street, looking both ways. (Don’t worry, this street was blocked off to outside traffic.)
Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombiano gave us a wonderful welcome gift- it’s free on Sunday! This is a top-notch museum that rivals any we have seen on the trip thus far. The exhibitions of pre-Colombian Art were well displayed and dramatically lit to reduce light damage.
They even had mummies from the Chinchoro, which we had seen outside Arica in the far north of Chile.
Oh, just a jaguar-skin-clad shaman doing a line…
These chemamüll are made by the Mapuche. Their feeling was similar to the tiki of Hawaii, maoi of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and other Polynesian traditions.
The mapuche had a stunning tradition of large statement jewelry that contrasted beautifully with their simple dark clothing. Consisting of nearly 10% of Chile’s population (with many residents in Argentina as well) they represent the 3rd largest indigenous population in South America.
When Coco saw this map, she exclaimed “that’s South America!”
We take art history very seriously.
Emily was in dream land in the textile room. Bits of rough hewn textiles sat next to elegantly woven masterpieces. Hand knitted fishing net was as fine as some French lace.
By taxi we wove across town to Parque Metropolitano where the funicular (a cable car) rides to the top of Cerro San Cristobal. Sunday afternoon in Santiago’s largest green space made for long lines heading to the top.
Colette, always stoked to take a new form of transport, watched the city rise from behind the trees. Once atop the peak, Adam & I laughed to each other- we could’ve easily been in LA’s Griffith park. Not exactly, but it had a familiar essence.
Since entering Chile’s central region, mote con huesillo, has been sold at every restaurant, park, gas station or roadside stall. Curiosity got the best of Emily who finally purchased one for us all to try. It is boiled wheat berry, mote, with whole dried peaches, huesillo, in a peachy syrup that tastes like canned peach juice. It is an interesting combination, but all of us agreed, not that interesting.
Our time at the cabin at Puerto Azul had closed and we departed south, suitcases and all 5 of us loaded into the Westy. We rarely travel on the PanAmericana highway/Ruta 5 and remarked what good time we were making. However, we prefer the slow road and are so thankful we have been able to do so (since that was not in the original cards).
The central valley south of Santiago could have easily been California’s central valley own Interstate 5. Neatly trimmed orchards and bundles of rolled hay flanked the highway; farm stands selling watermelons, tomatoes and crates of peaches advertised their bounty on neon paper signs, faded satin flags whipping in the warm wind of highway traffic whizzing by.
A stop at Casa Silva winery turned out to be a perfect indulgence for lunch. The food was great, the wine delicious, the service efficient, the setting eye-soothing, the company divine.
On the road again the next day, the van started showing symptoms of our previous plague- dropping from 4 cylinders down to 2. When that happened, Adam pulled over, wiggled the wires he had pin-pointed where the issue was coming from, got us back on all 4, and we would set off. However, it started happening with more frequency, and at this location took quite some time to get back on 4.
Further down the road, it dropped from 4 to 2, and as Adam pulled off to the shoulder of the PanAm, a sound happened. A bad sound. A very bad sound. A rolling metallic grind sound. A ‘uh-oh-not-again-what-the-fuck-kind of sound.” Adam removed the luggage and opened the engine compartment. Nothing leaking, nothing broken. We let the van sit & tried to re-start it a few minutes later. Nope. Not a chance, the motor was completely seized- again. The Chilean roadside assistance came by, but said the tow truck would only take us to the next exit off of the freeway. 4 hours after our initial breakdown, a private flat bed tow-truck arrived to shuttle us all down the road.
Thank God Emily’s parents are so laid back, they scrunched their shoulders as we apologized. It seems we learned to roll with the punches from our first teachers.
We loaded onto the flatbed, when the most curious thing happened… the tow truck popped-a-wheelie… with our van on the back! The driver was as surprised as we were, and in his methodical turtle-like old man fashion, slowly inched the van all the way onto the bed until the truck leaned forward, righting itself onto 4 wheels once again.
For the 2 hour ride Emily and Warren rode up front with the driver- all but begging him to take us to Temuco instead of his much closer hometown of Victoria, Adam behind the wheel of the van in case anything else crazy happened, Suzie & Coco played and colored in the back of the van.
Research that evening from the Holiday Inn, led us to EuroMotors in Temuco, where we drove the rental car Warren picked up that morning over for a peek and to meet with the crew about our predicament. They specialize in Subaru service, run a big, clean shop and had a garage out back full of older Subaru’s that they use as replacement parts. After meeting with the owner Avelino, we agreed to leave the van with them while they looked for another motor & to give us their assessment. And off we went in a rental…
At the lakeside town of Fruitillar, the German influence is as clear to the vista over Lago Llanquihue of Volcan Osorno, which dominates the landscape. We got some blackberry küchen (the German word for cake) and set off for the remainder of the long days drive to the next arranged rental.
Tree lined dirt roads are the peaceful entry in or out of ‘the House of Divine Views’ just outside of Ensenada in the famed Lakes District. There are several sections where the growing trees kiss overhead, which cause Colette to exclaim excitedly “tree tunnel!”
The interior of the house was open and welcoming, cozy rugs and nooks to sit all over.
Em’s parents gave us the upstairs master suite, which was a ‘wow’ of a room with the morning vista that astounded.
Surrounding the house was blooming flowers and lush Valdivian temperate rainforest. The understories are filled with bamboo and ferns, broadleafs and conifers reach to the skies.
On the porch of the house, that indeed did have divine views, mornings moved slowly, the strong rays of the summer sun requiring the ladies to employ the umbrellas that sat next to the door.
Suzie once remarked, as I (Emily) was waxing poetic on the wonder of Colette, “having a child of your own in a powerful gift and now you know how deeply we love you.” Wow, my mind was virtually blown, I had never thought of things that linearly and hearing those powerful words gave me the deepest respect and love for my two parents.
Rio Petrohue is born from the gushing western end of Lagos Todos Los Santos.
At the lake, it is easy to get swept away by the majestic beauty. From the ferry boats, you can catch a ride to Peulla across the lake, which the abundant backpackers in summer months use to traverse to Bariloche, Argentina
A walk along the shore, admiring the lake, people watching, throwing rocks…
Funneled through a volcanic slice of rock, is Saltos de Petrohue. Below the falls, speed boats buzzed about, shuttling orange life preserver bound tourists for a closer look at the white waters. Above the conical peak of Volcan Osorno, which is nicknamed the Mount Fuji of South America. Having visited Fuji-san circa 2004, we agree that the name fits the peak.
Down river from the ‘jumping waters’, the river continued sloshing along the rocks shores with white peaks that glistened in the fading sun.
Behind the river was a small pond, that sat still like a meditation in the midst of the green growth surrounding it so wildly.
Colette alternates between loving to hike- holding on the back of our shirts like a ‘baby elephant’ or leading the way like a ‘exploradora’, and then begging Papa to carry her on his shoulders when she ‘isn’t feeling too strong.’
Mornings at the House of Divine Views were all filled with an inhale of forest rich air, the wafting aroma of coffee, and the easy unfolding of the day with loved ones.
Even when you just pull over for a roadside pee, there is beauty everywhere! This region is so rich, we regret we won’t be here longer- but instead of dwelling on that, we choose to look at it as we are having a taste of something we will be coming back for!
Our rough plan (always subject to change as life on the road dictates) is to head to Buenos Aires to meet friends at the end of March, then into Brazil by April’s end to search for a little base-camp for a few months to welcome our new babe into the world. At the beginning of next season, we will head south from Brazil crisscrossing Chile and Argentina spending a healthy chunk of time back here in the stunning wilds of Patagonia.
We set out for an exciting day with our sights on reaching the northern part of Parque Pumalin, which is Doug Tompkins of Northface’s huge private Patagonian reserve.
The curvaceous coastline along this stretch reveals endless scenes like this fish farm pen. Salmon farming is big business in Chile. First imported to Chile about 100 years ago (salmon are not native), it took off in the 80’s and is now the world’s 2nd largest producer (closely behind Norway). Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA) a disease caused by large amount of waste and excess food in the fish pens, caused huge drops in salmon production between 2005-2010, but has regained a steady increase in the past years. The salmon remaining in Chile is said to be questionable, as all the quality salmon is exported to Japan, Brazil and the USA- the top three consumers worldwide.
In Ralún, we stopped to stretch our legs and soak up majestic sight of the Pacific inlet meeting the quaint fishing village. The vultures gathered on the rocks waited patiently for any fisherman’s offal.
The pavement ceased and the bumping of the Carratera Austral began. Began in 1976 by Chilean dictator General Pinochet (whose terrible humans rights atrocities we spoke about in our “In the Spirit of Adventure” post), the highway carves 700+ miles from Puerto Montt, south through rural Patagonia. Strategically built to allow access to the remote southern regions of the country, normally only accessible by sea, the highway still requires 3 ferries to access the whole length. And even then it is difficult the middle ferry, which runs from Hornopiren to Caleta Gonzalo is only open January and February.
Rivers and tributaries offered a change in color from peacock blue to milky grey, adding depth to the range we continued to see throughout the day.
We continued down the ash road, necks craning at the ever-changing scenes of northern Patagonia in summer. By 2pm, it was clear that we would not make it to Pumalin that day if we were to return to the house that evening. Stopping in a small fishing village along the bountiful coast, we found a busy restaurant that was serving up hot lunch. There was no menu, as they only offered 5 things, which change depending on what is caught that day- Adam & Warren had the rich seafood stew, Suzie the catch of the day. Emily & Colette had carb-a-licious lunch of French fries, white rice and cheese empanadas… thankfully the fresh raspberry juice was divine!
Taking the scenic route back to the ferry, we stopped at a lengthy beach along the open sound.
Shells were bountiful, as was trash that got washed up with the tide. Even in such a seemingly pristine place, the plastic demon still prevails. We make small choices daily, such as choosing to buy juice in paper tetrapak boxes rather than plastic bottles and remembering to bring our water bottle on all excursions. Even if you are vigilant in your ‘recycling,’ rethinking and reducing your consumption is the best way to lighten your mark on our beautiful planet.
We were all impressed at how efficient the Chilean ferry system is (seriously, it was seamless).
After a late dinner in Puerto Varas (well, late for us Norte Americanos, but a normal dinner time for Chilenos), we finally made it back to the house after a long and bumpy 15 hour day. Emily thoroughly enjoyed this rare morning of sleeping in (and in an actual bed no less).
With so much daylight at the 42nd parallel south, you can afford to have a mellow early day and not feel guilty- there is still hours or daylight to explore! So we headed up to Volcan Osorno which we had been staring at and using as our landmark for so many days.
The ski-lift, also runs in the summer months motored us up to the first stop, which afforded handsome views of the surrounding forest and Lago Llanquihue.
This is surely one of the more unique places to zipline.
Our trio, soon to be a quartet.
We set back across the ridge to catch the 2nd chair up to the glaciers edge. At the chair, the heavy doors were drawn and the operator looked at us with a knowing in his eye as Emily approached him. “We have tickets to go to the top” explained Emily. “I’m sorry we closed 15 minutes ago” he flatly replied. We tried, but he wouldn’t budge and said we could get a refund for that portion at the bottom. Nobody had explained the second chair closed hours before the first. Oh-man! Had we gone straight up and explored the middle tier on the way down, we wouldn’t have had any problems, but noooooo such luck.
So we were relegated to look up from the first station up towards the glacier- our eyes strained to delve deeper into the cracks and fissures.
Months ago, we explained to Colette that we called her ‘ladybug’ when she was Mama’s tummy and that we needed a nickname for the baby. “Hmmm” she thought, pointer finger to her bottom lip “I know…it’s… Baby Spider!” and so it was.
Emily- now 6 months along with Baby Spider- had a rough first trimester, when we were in and around Cusco, Peru. The elevation (12,500 feet) can be challenging at the best of times, but with first trimester hormones, made it really quite difficult for Em, who barfed nearly every day and would go to sleep at octogenarian hours. Now well into the 2nd trimester, she is feeling great and has her normal energy back.
We have had regular medical attention, bringing an envelope of the last doctors’ notes and records in to catch the attending obstetrician of the progress. Both Baby Spider and Emily are in perfect health. The cost of being a cash patient is only a fraction of what a co-pay is back in the States.
Arms outstretched, hearts open, we invite the love of this new child into our lives. We can’t wait to meet you sweet little one!
According to Colette, any time is a good time to play ball- especially if it is a giant ball that looks like a full moon, bouncing in the magic hour light on a grassy lawn with Granpere.
WB picked this bouquet for his lady from the flora, both planted and wild, that surrounds the house.
Onward to Chiloe Island, we set off for the half hour skip across the channel of Chacao. Chiloe- which means seagull place in the Mapuche language- has a rich & unique folklore, cuisine, and architecture all different than the mainland. Thanks to Poler and Raen Optics for the rad clothes and sunglasses!
Disembarking was a tidy affair, and we headed promptly towards the Penguineria (penguin colony) where both the Humboldt and Megallanic penguins nest from November to March.
This in-progress geodesic dome doubled as a climbing gym for ‘baby monkey’. Colette is in a phase where every day she is a different baby animal… one day she is a baby elephant- squirting water from her trunk, the next a baby snake -slithering along and hiding in rocks. You must call her ‘baby (whatever animal)’ and she will call you mama, papa, etc + type of animal. We have a great animal book that we can read about the habitat of whatever animal she is interested in.
It is the only location where both species cohabitate! This is the northern reach of the Megellanic (which have two bands) region, while this represents the southernmost position for the Humboldts (which have 1 band).
These special little islands also host Andean Goose, and a host of other migratory and permanent birds- not just 2 types of penguins.
Most pelicans prefer warmer climates, so spotting this beauty was a surprise.
Carved into the dusty hillside, penguins return to the same nest year after year. They depart after sunrise to forage for small schools of fish like anchovies or sardines, usually staying close to shore, but in years of low food supply, they will travel great distances.
After our return it cleared up & the sun shone brightly- a rare and welcome afternoon on the notoriously moody island of Chiloe.
On late ferry back to Puerto Montt, we caught the last rays of the sunset dipping into the South Pacific aboard the Don Juan.
For our last afternoon together, we stopped at the Yan Kee Way Lodge for lunch at their famed restaurant Latitude 42. The grounds were rustic-chic, tucked unobtrusively in the forest at the lakes edge. We ordered our food… Emily’s soup was brown water- no flavor, no texture- so bad she sent it back… our mains arrived & everyone enjoyed their food…but there was a curse that was lain that last meal together. “The curse of YanKeeWay Lodge” we shall call it, although it goes by many names including Montezuma’s revenge & tourista. Emily, Coco & Adam were spared (perhaps to having already adjusted our guts to various microbes) but Suzie and Warren got it… they got it BAD. Only it was made so much worse because of their flights back to the states. It is awful enough to have to use airplane toilets, but any more than absolutely necessary is just not fair. After their brief and torturous flight to Santiago, they delayed their flight to the states for a day, fought off the curse and eventually made it back to Sacramento, relatively unscathed.
Here the seemingly kind siren calls you in to her lair, where she calls you into her rocky shores.
We three, spared the curse, stayed a night at a hospedaje in Puerto Montt, then headed out for a 5 hour bus ride in the morning to Temuco. The Chilean buses are clean and efficient, and also have a 100km per/hour limit on them that beeps if the driver reaches the limit.
Pulling apart the work from La Serena, the piston rod was shattered.While we were touring with the fam, the shop located a 2.2 motor to revise, and here is the just machined crank shaft with all new Subaru bolts and rods.The guys here also opened up the engine heads- which the La Serena crew never did- and discovered a perplexing situation. 5 or soof the 16 lash adjusters in the lifters were mysteriously ground down and completely fell out- something Avelino, the owner has never seen in 30+ years as a mechanic. This could have caused loss of compression and allowed oil to seep out of the engine, where it needed to stay and lubricate the motor.
Junkyard life continues for Our Open Road… Adam & Coco took full advantage of the smooth,open concrete.
We have eliminated most dairy and eggs from our diet unless it is small farm/ free range; our mostly vegan diet is little stretch from vegetarian with occasional dairy. The neighbor at the mechanic’s shop had chickens and after Emily inquired if she sold the eggs, she gifted us some green, blue and brown eggs for the road.
Temuco is set on a river, with broad forest just a short walk from the main downtown area. While in Temuco we did a 24hourbazaar featuring Mapuche fairtrade goods from the surrounding areas. If you would like to receive our PDF catalogs of treasures we find along the way shipped to your doorstep directly from the field please sign up HEREColette prefers her sushi deconstructed… Emily is happy to oblige… Adam is happy to get sushi!Adam putting the ‘test’ in testosterone.
Motor #3 going in… they say “third time is a charm”… right?!?! Because Lordy, we have spent all the money we had saved up to get us through the next few months and can’t afford to have any more issues. A swell is hitting so we head back north up the coast….