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Hola, Week 8

Tuesday, Feb. 6th

Our plan is to head toward Torres Del Paine near the town of Puerto Natales. It is a long drive with a border crossing back into Chile so we were going to break it up into two days. The scenery was wide open with herds and herds of guanaco. We loved seeing the rheas (smaller looking ostriches) run alongside the road with ungraceful ease.

Driving six to eight hours on the road in the U.S. is usually no problem but down here it is exhausting. The road conditions are so unpredictable and the wind is so fierce that you are constantly strangling the steering wheel. We made it to a town called Rio Turbio, on the border with Chile, which was bigger than we thought but still nothing to write home about.

We camped near a small lake filled with geese, ducks, pink flamingos and horses grazing on the shoreline. It also served as the picnic grounds for the whole community and many families were there hanging out together. Sarah and I enjoyed watching all the activity until we were the only ones left. Then the wind and rain came and it blew all night. It was a long night!

Keep on rolling,

Scott and Sarah

Wednesday, Feb. 7th

We woke up to howling wind which made cooking breakfast very tricky. Then came the noise. Ugh! Upon firing up the car we heard something similar to what we had heard before. But, this was slightly different. It was noticeable and certainly concerning but we left our campground and drove to the border.

Crossing the border back into Chile was fairly simple. We had expected it to be much harder. You are not allowed to bring in any fruit, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, honey and who knows what else. So, we either ate all of those products or threw them out thinking our car would be thoroughly searched. It turns out the guy must have also had a bad nights sleep as he did very little searching of our van.

Once in Puerto Natales, we bought groceries and made a call to Danny at the van rental agency. We basically informed him of the noises and kept on driving to our destination in Torres del Paine National Park. Condor Campers (Our rental agency) has another office about 200 miles south in Punta Arenas. Hopefully we can drive there with no incidence and have the van looked at one more time.

Driving into Torres del Paine was absolutely thrilling. Just when we thought that we had seen it all, the scenery came alive once again. We found a nice campground in the park and made camp for the night. Our plan is to spend the next few days hiking around the park; depending on the weather, especially the wind. On any given day the winds can be cruising at 40 to 60 mph which it not the best conditions to be hiking, but the weather forecast is looking favorable.

Keep on rolling,

Scott and Sarah

Thursday, Feb. 8th

Woke up to an overcast, cold and windy morning so we decided to chill today. We were a little nervous about driving the van too much but we finally convinced ourselves that if it breaks down again, it breaks down again; so, we went on about our day. We headed over to the main ranger station and looked around the museum.

While there we had internet and we contacted Danny. Once again we were confronted with a decision to make a 200 mile trip through no man’s land ending up in Punta Arenas. Once there Danny’s mechanic would check out the van. We told him we would get back to him the following day with our decision. His comment could not have summed our feelings better, “You must feel like you have been given “The Chalice of Poison”.

Oh so true!

Since we were in Torres del Paine we did not want to miss what we had come to do, hike to the Torres del Paine Mirador. So we drove to the trailhead. Many other campers were parked at the trailhead and that is where we decided to spend the night. The weather was looking good for the next morning and we started packing all that we would need for the next day’s difficult hike.

Keep on Rolling,

Scott and Sarah

Friday, Feb. 9th

6:00 am came fast but we were on the trail by 6:30. The sun was just peaking out and the weather was really looking good. It took us two hours to hike to the Refugio. A Refugio is a place where there is food and lodging and tent camping for people who are doing day hikes or multi-day treks. It was amazing to see all the people there. It reminded me of a slope-side ski lodge at a Colorado ski resort. Sarah and I stopped long enough to use the baño and then kept moving toward the summit.

Arriving at the top we were rewarded with few people and a magnificent view of Torres del Paine. Very different from Mount Fitzroy but stunning in its own right. We got a glimpse of quite a few Andean Condors. These condors can weigh up to 33 pounds having the largest wingspan of any land bird, up to four feet. To watch them soar with such ease was exhilarating.

We left at 6:30am and returned to our van by 2:30. All in all it was a fantastic hike but we now had to face what we had been putting off…our car. Holding our breath we drove the 70 miles to Puerto Natales where we had rented an Airbnb for three nights. Thankfully, the van made it without incident. Danny had set up an appointment with a mechanic in town and we popped over to his shop so he could have a look. As it turned out, the problem was a clutch fan that was wearing out and he said he could have it fixed the next day.

So we headed back to our Airbnb with a bit of certainty that we would not be staying in the mechanics yard anytime soon. Yippee!

Keep on Rolling,

Scott and Sarah

Saturday, Feb 10th

With no plans today but to wait to hear from the mechanic we slept in and then went out for coffee and breakfast. Danny called around 11:00 am and told us that we could bring the car to the mechanic. We dropped it off and within the hour it was fixed. We were good to go! We certainly hope that this is the last time we will be dealing with car issues, but you never know.

Keep on rolling,

Scott and Sarah

Sunday, Feb 11th

We took the day to catch up on laundry, grocery shopping, spanish lessons and family calls. It looks like we have a little over a month left and a lot of ground to still be covered.

I do have a confession. I have not watched one NFL football game this year but I was amazed that they showed it on television here in Chile. So we flipped it on for the first half and watched it being narrated in Spanish.

While watching it in another country it helped me to see it from another perspective. The sport and all that it stands for has definitely changed since I was a kid. But not surprisingly the whole world is changing and it is quite noticable wherever you travel. Enough of that...

Tomorrow we are heading even further south to Tierra del Fuego which is at the tippy tip of South America. We plan to spend time looking at a penguin colony and hope to get great pics.

Keep on rolling,

Scott and Sarah

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