Chile, Our First Look
-- Story by Erin --
Jan. 2, 2002 - After a relatively pleasant trip back up
through Tierra del Fuego (not so much wind!), we arrived in Puerto Natales, Chile with
Frank and Rosa. As Chris and I were sick and needing to stay in bed for a few days, Frank
and Rosa decided to check out the Torres del Paine national park and see the Grey Glacier.
It was a convenient time also for Chris to check out the Navimag boat (that runs from
Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales) and accommodation for his parents eventual arrival. The
days were gray, cold, and windy but we had a nice time anyway. Chris made a new friend,
Alejandro, who owns another guesthouse, Las Dos Lagunas. Alejandro helped us find cheap
accommodation when we arrived (because his place was full), internet, accommodation for
Chris' parents next month, and more.
Thursday, Jan. 3, 2002 - Rosa wanted to go and see the
glacier at Torres del Paine. Chris and I were feeling cold and sick, and decided to
stay in town while Frank reluctantly played chauffeur to take Rosa up to the National
Park. They would spend 2 nights in a refugio, and Frank would return complaining of
his aches from the 25 mile (Frank, wasn't it 18km?) hike! Aside from the aches and
pains, they had a really great time! The plan was to meet on Saturday at noon,
midway between the NP and Puerto Natales, at the Chilean border town of Cerra Castillo.
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2002 - Just as we were about to leave to
meet Frank and Rosa at the border, Chris' bike decided it didnīt want to go. When the
time came to finally leave, his bike just didnīt start, not even bump start! We connected
the batteries from both bikes using jumper cables, and his bike started right up.
When we disconnected the jumpers, his bike died. Huh?!? Thankfully, Alejandro
had a friend who has a special police radio to contact the border post and got a hold of
Frank and Rosa to tell them we couldn't make it, a feat in itself. Then, Alejandro and his
father-in-law drove Chris around to the battery places to try and find an appropriate
battery. Our luck, they had the right size battery, or almost, and they were able to
charge it that afternoon. We debated staying another night and meeting Frank and Rosa in
El Calafate, Argentina the next day. Time was running out however as we only had a few
days left with them so we made a run for it at 5pm in the evening. At that time the sun
still set late, past 10pm, so we had at least 5 hours of sunlight to make it 300kms, with
a border crossing, on mostly gravel roads....
We bid farewell to Alejandro and Andrea, and Alejandro
slipped Chris a bottle of Pisco, the local 35% alcohol spirit, to help keep us warm!
Our good friends Alejandro and Andrea, outside their Hostal