Thursday, Jan. 4th
What a difference a day makes! We checked out of our AirBnB and drove to Huerquehue National Park where we hiked the Tres Lagos Trail. The National Parks have an online system where you can purchase an entry ticket for each individual park. We could not figure out how to access it so we just showed up. The Ranger gave us a quick talk about the park and sent us into the office to buy tickets. Upon entry another Ranger sat behind a desk with no smile and no welcome. I thought, “This is going to be interesting.” Fortunately, a woman from Italy was standing right behind us and she was also in the same boat, no ticket. She spoke to the Ranger in Spanish and suddenly, cash was king.
It was a six mile hike with a nice steep ascent up to three lakes. We took our time stopping here and there to shoot pictures and eat lunch. It took a total of three hours. The weather was fantastic! Afterwards, we found a campsite nearby and enjoyed a nice freezing cold shower. Call me a wimp but I cannot stand cold water and yet there I was. I guess it’s the small price you pay for adventure.
Friday, Jan. 5th
We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning next to a lake of reflective glass casting a tree filled mountainous display of glory upon its surface. Only the smell of a good cup of coffee could add to such a moment of sublime splendor. But from seemingly out of nowhere came running two wet, panting, excited, affectionate dogs who lived at the campground and the peaceful moment quickly slipped away. These two dogs knew how to have a good time and made sure you were going to enjoy it with them.
Along with the dogs came two young boys who were camping next to us. Every six months the family (parents and three boys) rotates between living in New York and Chile. The oldest, Mateo was a bit shy but the two younger boys, Lucas and Oliver, liked to visit. Lucas seemed to take a shining to Sarah and he politely asked for her email. It was precious to behold. They were hoping we could stay longer but we had to move on. We headed back to the town of Pucon to buy groceries.
With all the trouble we had gone through recently with the tire and the headlight, I forgot to mention that we had a couple of incidents where the car was sluggish to start. I was a bit nervous at the thought of being on some barren stretch of road somewhere deep in Patagonia. So, I bought an extra car battery to give us peace of mind. Well, that peace of mind did not last long.
Upon finishing up our shopping spree we headed south to the town of Malchehue and found a beautiful campground on the shore of lake Panguipulli. We were met by the owner and his son. Pulling into our campsite I forgot to turn off the van headlights and before I knew it three to five minutes had passed. I tried to start the van and guess what…NOTHING. Unbelievable! Thankfully the owners son was nearby doing some cleaning and I asked if he could give our van a jump with his truck. We hooked up the cables and we were back in business. The van came to life.
At that moment I started to think that maybe there was a problem with the alternator or maybe the battery was too old to hold a charge. Either way,I made an appointment with a mechanic for ten o’clock the next morning.
An hour later something inside me said that I should try to start it again. At the turn of the key there was NADA, NOPE, ZERO, NOTHING, ZILCH, GOOSE EGG. The battery was deader than a door nail. The thoughts of more than, “NO BUENO” started up again but I pushed through it. Because I had the confidence of an almost certain victory I opened up the box to my new battery, started to install it and to my surprise the terminal posts were the wrong size. I felt like Elmer Fudd being duped once again by a “Silly Wabbit”. Aye chihuahua, I was ready to strangle somebody!
Once more I tracked down the owners son and asked him if he could come by in the morning and give us a jump. We agreed on 8:00am and he left for the night. We went to bed after a nice walk on the shore of a magnificent lake. I was hoping that the next day everything would work out.
Saturday, Jan. 6th
The morning came fast and he showed up at the appointed time. We were blessed with a cold rainy morning to start our day. Jumper cables hooked up and hopes running high I turned the ignition to hear the sweet sound of…..silence. “NOOOOOO BUENOOOO”, reverberated through my brain. We must have worked on it for 30 minutes when I finally asked him if he could give us a ride to town, which he did. Thankfully an auto parts store was open and had the very battery we needed. We came back to the campground, installed the battery and the van fired right up. We paid the owners son for his time but he refused the money. We insisted. Off to the mechanic. He confirmed that our alternator was charging correctly. He did not want any money for his time but we insisted with him as well. The people of Chile have been incredibly helpful and nice toward us for which we are grateful.
We got on the road and ended up camping in a wild camp spot right next to Lake Ranco in the town of Llifen. It is here that we spent a fun evening talking with a German couple, Mike and Chris. They are traveling around South America and had their RV shipped from their home. They gave us a lot of tips on “Dos and Don’ts” as we travel in Patagonia.
Sunday, Jan. 7th
We got on the road early and went to another Calvary Chapel in Puerto Montt. It is amazing to see how big an impact Chuck Smith had in this world while he was here. As we walked in both Sarah and I have never been kissed as much in our whole lives. These people know how to make you feel at home even though we could not communicate well with most of them. The Pastor (Nester) was so happy to have us and he even wanted us to come back in the future to help out. His son Mattias was studying English at the University and did some interpreting for us.
It was great to be with them and we said our goodbyes. We headed for gas station to take showers then on to a German Restaurant in the town of Quilanto. The restaurant was recommended by our newly acquired German friends. Along with dinner we were able to stay overnight in the parking lot. We were the only ones there and the black faced Ibis birds along with a nearby flock of sheep, serenaded us all night. It was wonderful.
Monday, Jan. 8th
Everyday is a new day with no particular plans. We drove out of town along the shores of the second largest lake in South America. At some point we just pulled over and I cooked scrambled eggs and ham while soaking in the most scenic lake view. It was close to 11:00 am and we decided to take a hike in Vincente Perez Rosales National Park. The hike was an 8 mile loop that passed through multiple eco systems. At points I was swarmed by massive biting flies. Sarah seemed to attract less than me. I know what you are all thinking but it turns out they are attracted to dark colors of which I was wearing a dark gray shirt.
After our hike we stopped by an ice cream vender and had some amazing local flavors. Our wild camp stop was in a road base lot used to cover roads withgravel. We were the only ones there with an amazing view of Osomo volcanoe.
Keep on rolling,
Scott and Sarah