I was never very excited for this trip: I had a 13-hour airplane journey ahead of me and had to navigate my beloved Izzy through customs, the latter of which had the propensity to be akin to someone singing Ed Sheeran at me for weeks on end. Only once I was heading down the coast with the sunshine switched on, water to my right and Izzy’s straight six burbling along would I be happy. Well, I’m elated to say, I AM BLOODY HAPPY!! (As for flying, I remain a drug addled mess for the entire period, but I do get to my destination despite the fear, but that is beside the point!).
Chile and Heading South
It’s been almost two weeks of travelling, one week with Izzy and my uncle, and I’m writing this post as we navigate the Carrera Austral south (the road is broken up by several boat trips). We are moving pretty quickly but have plenty of time for sightseeing. We’ve come down from about 1000km from Santiago and camped most nights in little out of the way places next to lakes or rivers, or if we’re feeling blasé we’ll try a campsite. I had researched every country in detail several months ago, but since buying Izzy in July 2017, it’s been 100% on the vehicle, so I’ve completely forgotten everything about any country. For those that don’t know, Chile is a vast stretch of meekness running a good half-length of South America’s rear – you go only two ways, north or south, with the volcanic Andes nestling the entire east of the country, and the Pacific the west. It’s south we go!
Camping wise, Izzy has a roof top tent which I sleep in and then I set-up my uncle (travelling with me for the first three weeks) in another tent, a good 20 feet away. You see, my uncle snores like some kind of rhino having an enema. As a co-pilot you need only a few attributes and my uncle has almost none: being 70% blind he can’t read any of the signs, can’t read any maps, doesn’t know any of the language, he naps like a champion (mid-way through conversation yesterday) and driving really isn’t his forte. However, as an octogenarian and great-grandfather three times over, he is wonderful company, and between the two of us we can cover a lot of utterly worthless drivel for hours and hours.
On our way south we stopped into the Lakes District and met up with our recently acquired friend from Santiago, Emily Mason, a scientist from Cambridge studying volcanology at Pucon. When the rain hammered it down in the afternoon, we formulated a plan involving eating brownies, drinking hot chocolate and working out ways to physically restrain myself from any cheap Star Trek puns to Emily. I failed. In between the mist and the driving rain though, Pucon did seem a beautiful area with waterfalls a plenty and some small hikes we trampled on despite the weather. Those lakes have to get filled up somehow, and with three days of rain forecast we headed further south and fortunately avoided most of it. Huzzaahhhh!!
Meeting Incredible People
Other than getting a smash on the windscreen (stone on the freeway, crack!) and getting that replaced, along with fitting a new alarm – make hay whilst the sun shines and all that – one of the highlights of the week was meeting Lucy Barnard. As per my previous write-up, Lucy is aiming to be the first woman to walk solo from Ushuaia to Alaska, completing her journey by 2020. Needing to cover about 5000 miles a year, she has covered about 3000 so far in her inaugural year. I am not sure I have aided this at all by supplying Tim Tams and Vegemite for the journey! Whilst I’ve maintained really light-running communication channels, Lucy has blogs, Instagram, twitter, facebook, real interviews, sponsorships, competitions, fund-raising and miles and miles of walking to do. It would kill a lesser . . . erm . . . Welshman. In saying that, Lucy is a pro-adventurer. However, the bravery and courage for her trip is undeniable, she’s an incredible person, and an incredible person lugging a 30kg pack every day. One of the key things she highlighted during her trip was the kindness and compassion of the people that she met on her journey, something we can completely attest to as well. As with any country (and hopefully this remains the same for this trip!) I’ve visited, regardless of Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and even North Korea, people at their heart remain the same: good natured, caring and full of surprises. Oh and Lucy is an Aussie (if the vegemite wasn’t a give away!), so please support her at tanglesandtail.com, and buy her a coffee at her next stop!
Other pieces in a quick summary: the food here is staggeringly expensive (box of cereal for 7 or 8 USD) as the tax is huge; the wine is wonderful; the weather has been pretty kind so far; the motorways are smooth and there is little traffic; officialdom has been at a minimum; there are lots and lots of wild street dogs in every town and city, and all are immensely friendly. If you pat one though, you’ll have them follow you around for the rest of the day. And they all LOVE barking at one another at night. But for me, in all honesty, this last week has been dominated by Izzy – she’s been faultless (touch wood) and am simply amazed we got her through customs: after all the nay-saying and the sometimes rude “you’re an idiot and don’t know what you’re doing” that comes with travelling forums, it was nice to get that major milestone over the line after months of planning and years of dreaming. Don’t let the bastards get you down.
HUGE THANKS TO TELSTRA
As above, I am writing this from one of the ferries from the route south. Telstra were very kind in providing me roaming for my trip which has been absolutely invaluable, a huge thank you to them enabling me to keep up posts and message family and loved ones. Thank you Team Telstra! Will add some photos as soon as I can get some wifi! :-)
The blog will be a record of everything - from idea conception to old age in making this adventure happen
You can find the excellent 2006 Antipodean Adventure blog by Dwyer Rooney here