24 –  30 November 2008

We managed to contact Pedro and his brother Hernan, our friends from the Peru/Chilean border.  Hernan and his wife, Iris, who live in Temuco came to the hotel to meet us and then we arranged to have lunch the following day.  Pedro was out of town and sorry to have missed us as we passed by his farm, but said that he would be back the following day and hoped to see us before we leave.

How lucky we have been over the past couple of days – to be able to spend time with such wonderful people!  Before we met Hernan for lunch we took Toyota to Electro-Diesel Ltda to try to finally get the solenoid problem out.  No one spoke English but the “top man” spoke German and came down to discuss the problem with Denise.  Immediately, they put two men on the job, by-passed the solenoid, fitted a circuit breaker so that we can turn off the auxillary battery at night time and charged it up.  We were there all morning – all for around 23 pounds.  Where in England would you get such service or people who would do so much to help a couple of foreigners in need!!! 

The afternoon was amazing with Hernan taking us to have lunch in the Temuco Mercado – built in 1929 it is one of the best covered markets in Chile.  The stalls around the edge were taken up by butchers with stalls festooned in strings of sausages and salamis, whilst inside the countless craft stalls selling everything from silver jewellery to ponchos and much much more led us through to a central area of local restaurants.  Here the local women were vying for our trade, each one shouting louder than the other about the quality of their food and their dish of the day!!  Hernan, took control of the ordering, explaining that I was a vegetarian and whilst we sipped our aperitifs he told us that his “second wife”  - a good friend of his wife Iris, was coming to have lunch with us.  We wondered what was going on here until Karen arrived.  A Chilean brought up in the USA, she has now returned to Temuco to university and teaches Hernan and Iris English!!!  Iris, who was working that day, thought that we might all need some help with the language!  The food was excellent – JC had something called Curanto – a Chilean dish of seafood, meat and potatoes all cooked and served up with a hot spicey soup and some special fried bread – looked a bit like a doughnut but tasted wonderful.  I don’t know how to spell it but it sounded like SUPER PIE PILLA – not good for the diet but great.  As we chatted Hernan told us that we were all invited to Pedros farm the following day for lunch – a good excuse to stay another night in Temuco!After lunch we all had a wander around the town where we visited the Plaza des Armas and a small art gallery before stopping for a coffee – strange to see the Christmas decorations here!


Inside of the Temuco Mercado...............................................                        Hernan, Karen and us.............


Posing for photos in the Plaza des Armas..............

The following day was just as memorable.  Hernan met us and first we climbed to the top of the Cerro Neolil, a hill next to our hotel which is a National Monument covered in beautiful native trees and supported by the ‘Friends of the Trees”.  A great view down over the city.  On our water to Pedro’s which is about 50kms out of town we stopped at the farm and JC got up on a tractor just to remind him of what it is like.  Pedro told us that harvest will not be until January or February so no chance of JC getting a job here for harvest!!!  It is strange the countryside around, looks like England on a beautiful Summer’s day – green and luscious. 

When we got to Pedro’s home, a short distance from the farm, the hospitality was unbelievable.  Hernan had obviously warned about my eating habits and with our Pisco Sour aperitifs we were offered olives, nuts and an endless supply of delicious, freshly baked cheese empanadas.  Then we sat down to a three course meal, all beautifully prepared and served by a lovely lady whom we believe was Pedro’s housekeeper.  Both brothers speak some English and JCs farming background gave them all a lot in common – their sister in England sends Pedro Farmers Weekly so that came up for discussion too.  They told me that the Pisco Sour would improve my Spanish and did their best to encourage me, correcting and helping as we went along.  It seemed incredible to all of us that we were sitting together in the small village of Pua in Chile, where the boys were born, that their sister lives in Wakefield and that JCs comes from a farming family  giving us all so much in common – what a small world (sorry I keep saying that).


View over Temuco..............                  JC keeping his hand in........                 The veggie garden at the farm...........


Pedro and us in front of the house.....     The boys poring over Farmers Weekly...  Not Pedro's farm but could be England???

We have had an absolutely fantastic couple of days and feel that we have been honoured to have briefly sampled the wonderful hospitality of these two brothers – we hope that one day we can treat them so well if ever they visit their sister in England.  On the way back to Temuco we visited Hernan’s farm – he leases the land out to a tenant farmer, but has kept the house for himself and his family to visit.  There, his housekeeper, Ernesto, was baking bread and although we were tempted to stay and sample some we had to get on our way and dragged ourselves, reluctantly from this peaceful, wonderful place to get back on the road again.  We dropped Hernan back in Temuco, saying a sad farewell, but are sure that we will keep in contact. 

From Temuco we drove to Villarica and our hotel on the lake had the most wonderful views over Volcano Villarica.  A perfect end to a perfect day, sitting in the garden watching the sunset over the volcano.    We may have become a bit travel weary over the past week or two but days like today make us realize just how lucky we are.


Cloudy when we arrived..............          Cleared as we watched..................       and then the sun went down............!!!

The next morning the valley was shrouded in cloud – the volcano had disappeared!!  We stayed off the highway and made our way our narrow country roads through the Lake District, skirting some of the lakes and seeing others in the distance.  In Panguipulli, we stopped to fill up and were entertained at the local schools 10th Anniversary.  The streets were lined with stalls selling goods made by the children, a stage had been erected at the base of a huge birthday cake and the school orchestra and dance groups were entertaining the very proud parents! 


We followed the narrow country lanes allways with lakes in distance........                 The school celebrations.......................

The weather is definitely cooling down and the campsites were mostly closed so we headed for Osorno and our last bit of Ruta 5 (The Panamerican Highway) before we cross into Argentina to follow the famous Ruta 40!!

Approaching the frontier we spotted a place where we could buy the necessary Argentinian Insurance and whilst the lady there sorted out our documents we met a Brazilian biker, who now lives in Miami and  had been travelling since August alone from Alaska to South America.  He had been unable to continue on the Dalton Highway as the weather and road conditions were so bad – such a short time after us – we were really lucky! 

As we left Chile and headed for our ‘FINAL FRONTIER” we spotted a couple of vintage cars coming our way – some with UK plates – all types and models and when we spotted one at the side of the road with the bonnet up we almost pulled in!!  There were over 160 cars in total and lots of support vehicles, including a low loader with two cars up already.  Maybe an idea for Rick????  We know where there is someone who can easily handle a low loader!!!  Thankfully, at the border, they were travelling in the opposite direction so we didn’t get held up by them and were through in less than 30 minutes!!


A bit older than our usual rally mates.....   Could this be Charles and Jane with a re-spray..  The Final Frontier................

Although we have not yet reached “The End of the World” it was a strange feeling crossing into Argentina – one guy came up and shook John’s hand congratulating us on having made it from Alaska – that made us really think about how far we have come.  Some feat for two people from Brandesburton eh – 17,733 miles after leaving Prudhoe Bay on 12th July 2008 we crossed into Argentina on 27th November 2008 and are heading for a couple of days at San Carlos de Bariloche to raise a glass and celebrate our achievement so far!!

San Carlos de Bariloche is very much like a town on the Italian lakes but on a much bigger scale.  The view over the lake to the mountains in the distance was fantastic.  We stayed a couple of days in a small hotel at the lakeside to relax for a while.  Everywhere is very alpine looking with timber and stone fronted houses.  The buildings at the centre of town which house the municipality, the police, a museum and the tourist office are all built in this way around a cobbled square.  There is quite a lot of German influence with lots of German names and food – JC had gulasch and spaetzle one night and wild boar and sauerkraut another night.  He reckons he is saving the steak for Buenos Aires, but we will see! 


Coming into Bariloche......................................................                                  Around the square................


And more..........................................................................................             Sadly not enough room in Toyota for these two!!!!!

It was like being in a wind tunnel here between the mountains and the wind raced across the lake both days we were there whipping the surface into white tops and we had to wear our jackets for the first time since Alaska!!!  Strange for us to think that the skiing season had just ended here about six weeks ago , whilst in Europe it will be just starting in December.

Bariloche is famous for its chocolate, the streets are filled with specialist chocolate shops and there is even a chocolate museum – heaven!!  We sampled some and were going to bring some home but sorry CMC – they are all marked – eat within 20 days of purchase and we will hit some more hot weather in Buenos Aires before we leave.

As we left the town, the wind dropped and we got caught  up with the old cars again.  They are obviously not doing  a long rally together but appear to be doing different stretches of the road (timed) each day. Many of them pipped, waved or gave us the “thumbs up” as they passed us along the way.  We are also seeing more overlanders now, bikers and vehicles – today we followed a Landrover with an ambulance body with a Hamburg registration.  We expect to meet more as we get nearer to Ushuai – all taking the same challenge – there will probably be loads of us there at Christmas time, although  we don’t think we will see John and Lesley or Chad and Anna as they are all now quite a way behind us and taking it slowly. 

Along the route, as it was Saturday, there were groups of Argentinians waiting for the old cars, waving flags and taking photographs.  As usual we were of no interest – it was definitely like being back with the Rally again!!  The road was fantastic, cutting through the valleys of Argentinian Patagonia with the snow topped mountains in the distance and the wild lupins and golden yellow of the broom giving a colourful display along the road side, in the bright sunshine.


A fellow traveller.........................      Flags went down when we went by....   Beautiful Argentine Patagonia.........................................


and more.........................................................................................................................                                Lupin Corner........

South of El Bolson and Epuyen we joined the famous Ruta 40 – known for its gravel surface.  Luckily the first part for us has been paved – full of potholes but not bad at all and we had a very pleasant ride into Esquel through yet another change of terrain, where the crystal clear lakes and mountains gave way to a more softer terrain of rolling hills and pampas. 


It changes again.............................................................................................................................

With three weeks to get to Ushuai, we feel we can take things a bit easy now and are having two nights in Esquel to relax in this lovely valley, where the mountains protect us from the strong winds we had in Bariloche. Doing a bit of walking – it has surprised us how unfit we have become sitting in the Toyota for the past seven months – so we plan to take advantage of the time and the wonderful countryside to catch up a bit.  JC couldn’t resist the beef any longer and enjoyed his first Argentinian steak last night – he even had a couple of glasses of Patagonian Red!

Today, whilst updating, we met Thierry, who had driven Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia in 1993 in a Suzuki Jeep and he went through Columbia then!!!  It was great to swap stories with him.  Now he has a Landrover Defender 90 and is going to be covering the Dakar Rally next time!!  Lots of experience there –  great to chat with him and compare his trip 15 years ago with ours!!  I am sure we too will keep in touch.

Not sure when we will be able to update again, as tomorrow we are heading off into the National Park areas where we expect to be doing more camping and are not sure what, if any, internet reception there will be.

Thanks for your messages – keep them coming.