Some of you may be wondering where we are going and why and for how long. Well,,,considering the pound has just dropped its pants to the other currencies of the world we may be home sooner than later. I've no idea why the pound is so weak considering the Euro and Euro Zone are in such a bad shape. The Pound has even gone down against to Argentina Peso. How can that be so??? The Peso is one of the most unwanted currencies ! They won't even change it for Chilie Peso's at the border unless you give them 50% more. Anyhow....
Checking the financial status we still have,,,,wait for it.....two more years. So to Mum, Dad and family that may come as a bit of a shock. My excuse for this is why would we want to come home to a place where speed cameras are coming back into fashion and bus lanes and stupid traffic systems make the trudge to whatever work you can find a nightmare. The only reason to come home is because its still home and you lot are there! The rest of the UK is pretty crap really. For Hennings benefit its still cheaper than Denmark.....
We will continue travelling as long as Julie and I don't kill each other first. I think you'll find my body somewhere in the Amazon. We need to have a bit of fun and we're on our way to Mardi Gras. The problem with that fantasy is that Mardi Gras is in Brazil and its not really very safe.....We will be on high alert for the duration and will only be parking in proper car parks which we have been told are $50usd per night ! The only saving grace to that is they have showers and stuff. So they are actually the most expensive campsites we've ever stayed in. Thats if we can get a spot in the only one we know in Rio and the one (Tucan Overland bus driver) Suzie told us about in Namibia.
So two more years.....we really should think about things back at home. We might of course run out of money sooner and Matilda might burst into flames as she's already attempted once. The offending lighting system is now on a 1 Amp fuse....not 20Amp as Land Rover installed.
So far the weather is applicable to sleeping in a car and cooking in the back. When the rains come, which they will, how will we feel then. We are going to try for a 10 year USA visa and Matilda on a 1 year US entry. So this will give us lots of time in the US. Not sure if once we are in we can leave the car and come home. Flights to the UK are cheap from the states. Why are we already thinking about the USA? We haven't finished here yet....."chance favours the prepared mind".
Will we be bankrupt when we return home. Probably.......the government might then give me some "Jobseekers Allowance" (about £65 per week) having squandered all our money on none essential vacation. This is the way of the UK system. You get benefits if you have no money no matter how you wasted it ! There might be no money left by then when all the Eastern Europeans turn up in Jan 2014.....
Next stop Val Pariso....our adventure in Chile is nearly over.
Not had much Internet access lately. Back in Chile for the last time and this time we are in at Mendoza and over to Santiago and Val Pariso.
Henning is delayed because he has tooth-ache. If theres ever been and more lame excuse for staying in Africa i'm yet to hear it......its got to be something to do with his perverted needs and his lovely "African Rose",,,,, and nothing to do with his teeth !
This part of our trip seems to be a journey to all of the service stations in South America and to random supermarkets....
I'm sure we are now honorary truckers as we sleep, eat and shower in the same places...
We visited the main Land Rover dealer in Mendoza the other day. Only a few days after Bill and Rosemary had been there looking for the same parts ! Strange coincidence and small world. We never got what we wanted as they'd purchased them all.....but anyhow our need wasn't great as I still have some spares and I was just trying to re-stock just-in-case.
Bit of a paddle in the Salt Flats on the way across the top of Chile/Argentina. We travelled to almost 5000meters.
I should point out that the lavish lunch Julie is smiling about was a) to use our remaining Chilian Peso's b) to use the Wi-Fi.
The Wi-Fi failed as this is probably what caused the blog entry to dissapear. The lunch on the other hand was fine. For $40usd it should have been !
You may notice the new driver in Matilda....She can have the job if she can fix the overheating problem.
Dumped a load of photos into the South America - High Altitude Photo Album.
So after 1.5 hours typing the blog Weebly decided to delete the post entirely whilst I was uploading the photos. This is one of the many bugs of Weebly. The developers seem unable to find any of the ones I report and ask me to send in web capture video. Do they know where I am ! If you don't have a reasonable connection to the internet Weeby is naff but I suppose we've managed so far.
From 35c to 0c in less than 100Km....is that fast enough Mike....
I removed the seed net and its not made a deal of difference. I did replace the foam between the Intercooler and Rad as it was hardly there. Its really strange that I can run for ages and all of a sudden it runs away and gets hot. I can literally stop for 30 seconds and switch off the engine and the restart and the gauge is back to almost normal. If I let it idle for a while it stays OK or indeed goes down. I've been careful to never let her get anywhere near the red. A few degrees off verticle and I stop. The Engine block is at 109C I might add but the water is ~90c (ish). (block measured with the IR gun at just under the breather so at cylinder level I think) I doubt its an airlock as she runs completely normal almost all of the time. I'm flummoxed ! Would the block be so much higher than the water temp?? I've checked the rad from the front and its not clogged up and apart from a couple of damaged sections that have been there for ages, it looks OK. I've not done any wet work yet but that looks to be next. If we don't go up anymore hills I doubt she will overheat again. Water pump is new and fitted in Kenya. Thermostat was in the UK a couple of years ago.
Over the last few days we've been to San Pedro de Atacama and its a lovely vista with mountains and volcanos all around. If you Google the place you will see more than we did as when we arrived it was night and then the weather turned. Snow, Rain, Wind, Cloud.....the second day was 35c again. We decided to go to the Geysers on the bad weather day. It wasn't really a choice it just happened. It was truely miserable and the water wasn't as hot as it looks in the photo. Yes I did get naked for the blog.....i'm a bit of a tart. There is video of the event but that is censored and will be released when its stolen from my California apartment just like any "sex" tape).
The rain brought out the flowers in the desert. After the full day of bad weather they might have been better the second day but we didn't travel that road again. We did sleep in an old abandoned mine village. A bit spooky but I was more worried about the wall collapsing on top of the car in the night and nobody ever finding us.....
Matilda got very muddy on the way back from the Geysers so we needed a wash. It was the type of red mud that sets like concrete. We got the local Copec station, which took us over an hour to find, to let us use the hosepipe for $4usd. We flooded the filling station.....they were not happy.
Update of Photos in the Photos section. Just dumped loads in there so its a right old mess.....
Has been difficult to find Wi-Fi Internet. Finally found some in Antofagasta in the Mall. Slept on the side of the road last night after driving round trying to find a shower for hours. Fianlly found the local sports field next to the beach had showers which we could pay for. Just like some of the service stations but none of them had showers here. Too near town I think to need them. Anyhow the sunscreen from days in the Sun was washed away. Not that the Sunscreen did much as after 6 hours we were burnt. We put the awning out on the side of Matilda and didn't venture out much but still got burnt. We had excellent views of the Dakar, drank beer and talked to various travellers we met. Australian and Chinese bikers on a rental motorcycle tour with SAMt. The Chinese were actually BNOT (British National Overseas Terratory) and from Hong Kong. A Canadian local working in the mine and a German who had rented a car in Santiago.
As I've been offline for a few days we have a lot to say but i'm not sure I will remember all. Here goes !
The photo where Matilda is parked sideways in the parking bays is somewhat annoying. We were fast asleep, parked in the bays as any normal person would be (in line). At 1:15am there was a "tap tap" on the window. The police ! Wanted us to move and shining his torch in my eyes when I peeked out. "Where should we move" was our question and with neither of us speaking the others language they motioned us to park sideways. So that we did. Why we had to park sideways was anybodies guess but the photo speaks for iteself. I don't like being woken up !!!! I manouvered the car half naked. Julie got dressed and got out to give assistance.
My shorts have had it. On to the second spare pair. I knew bringing two of everything was a good idea. Should have got a spare Land Rover......she was overheating on the hills. We went up 2000 meters and stopped 3 times. 5mins and she's good to go again. Not sure why she overheats and then cools so quickly. Any ideas Mike or anyone else ??? We have a 5000 meter hill to go up.....not sure we will see any ideas from Mike before we attempt it.
My feet have been in the South Pacific. First time I think. Not sure if some of the places we have been previously are South Pacific but I don't think so. So a first for me and minding the Jelly Fish I had a little paddle.
Another rescue for the stuck car using my spade and "Waffle Boards". It was actually 3 people that used the spade and 2 using the boards. I got stuck earlier and at 3000Kg I should have known better than to try to get a better position. The locals in their little "soft roaders" were wizzing all over and only sometimes got stuck. I just got stuck immediatly but got myself out in 2 mins with some tyre deflating and 10 spades of sand. Easy. I only got the boards out for the locals.
On to Dakar. Amazing sight seeing all those people take a vehicle up a slope that I wouldn't even attempt. The lorries had some difficulty and especially the Uni-Mogs. The MAN trucks just wizzed up. The Toyo tyres car was miles out in front and it was ages before anything other than two wheels passed us. If you had blinked you would have missed the Toyo Car entirely.
One of the hightlights was seeing the car blow a tyre on the hill at the end of the day. We weren't far from the finish line so I think they called for a spare tyre but we left before they got it. The car had auto jacks and they just pressed a button and it jacked itself up right there on the hill. The long piston sinking into the soft sand and stoping the car rolling back. Now I want some of those !!!
The coffee drinking Danish biker called Henning will be in South Amercia soon. We are on our way back to Argentina and Uraguay/Brazil so will likely be there just as he arrives ! We do our best to avoid him but he keeps turning up all over the place. At least we will have somewhere to get showers now.
This time we're not on our way to see Charley Boorman or his TV series of the same name but we are rushing north to see the last few days of the Dakar. Hopefully !!!! I have along way to drive tomorrow as the stage isn't really where it should be. Its a long way north. Luckily we found some PDF's of where the viewing points are on the Dakar website. We got a fast enough Wi-Fi spot in good old Copec Hotel (service station and our second home).
We missed Santiago and will try to return via Argentina. This is a risky move as we may not be let back into Chile. Fingers crossed so watch this space.
We managed to get some washing done yesterday in a Copec sevice station. Would you beleive they had washers and driers but we opted for the outside on the fence drying technique. Its a bit cheaper. My new teeshirts are sun faded already my shorts have an "ass sized" hole and they will soon be binned. Who would have thought sitting on my bum would wear out a pair of shorts.
I took the opertunity to wash Matilda as we were now mostly on motorways so we stopped at a busy riverside surrounded by locals from every town in the area. We slept the night after they had gone and washed the car in the morning. I'm not sure flushing dirty car water into the local river system is OK but the locals do it so why shouldn't I ? I also realised i've lost my BBQ stand which I use for the griddle Des gave me in Africa all those months ago. I've not lost your griddle Des, I would not dare! I possibly left it in Ou-Skip campsite or somewhere on the way back from Port Elizebeth.....oh well. I won't get another here so have resorted to resting it on rocks again.
My transfer box is leaking again !!!! Note to Roverland in Cape Town. Your fix is rubbish. Its been fixed, leaked, repaired by you and now its leaking for the second time since you permanently fixed it! I even made the guy that put it together put Silicon on the inter shaft which he's told not to do by MArtin the owner. I wanted it done for good measure and he did it against his standing orders. Its leaking again Martin !!!! I doubt they will see this but if they do, what are you going to do about it now ! I can think one way, a refund.
Did I mention we made it into the local paper. They used the wrong photo and they spelt my name wrong.....
Tonight we met a nice family from Chillan with a problem with their car. I could not help as it looked to me like the water pump had broken. Anyhow Julie used the meeting to get extra lessons in Spanish!
Matias (18), Constanza (15), Chistopher (12) and the Cabrera family were stuck at the Copec services station where we are sleeping. Their father did his best to get them moving and they left eventually under "reduced power". The car loosing water and not sounding like it should. Good luck to them, Mum and Dad doing their best to get the "show on the road"...
We really enjoyed meeting them and Julie learnt more Spanish talking to them than she did in six months at college.
Constanza loves One Direction and particularly Harry....unfortunately we only know of Louis as he's from Doncaster,,,, so we can't set up a date....even though he went to the same school as our entire family....
Hope they all get home safely.....
No tick in the box for international rescue :-(
We also watched some keys locked in the car....The car being opened by a screwdriver, pliars and a branch....took them no time at all. I didn't help on that one either.
Just sat on the side of the road and a Defender 90 turns round and comes back to see us.....One free shower later and a chat about all sorts and thanks to Raul Alvarez Klein we are on our way. Who said the South Africans have the title for most hospitable??? That would have been me.....Chile is catching up.
We also me some travellers who've been on the road for 16 years !!!! Claud and Marie-Jo from Switzerland. They are avid twitchers (bird watchers).....There was some discussion over how many they have seen,,, its a lot.
Still only getting Wi-Fi every few days so sorry about not bloging (moaning) much.
Photo is of the man with the shower.....Thanks Raul for stopping, possibly due to the awful smell as you past our camping spot.
What the hell just happend.....?
We met a couple of travellers in El Chalten, Thomas and Shoelle (Swiss) and Bill and Rosemary (English). Thomas in a VW camper and Bill in a Defender. They had this brain wave to enter Chile via a very unused route in the south meaning we could get to see more of the mountains. The route was challenging and not many people had ever done it. There were rumours and a few blogs of bikes and motorcycles but nothing about cars !
The plan was to cross to Villa O'Higgins at Paso Mayo ( from Argentina and into Chile at the El Bello border crossing ) there was customs on both sides so everything was set. Safety in number and Thomas spoke excellent Spanish !
We'd been told to go to the road maintenance company in the nearest big town to ask if the road was open. It was, so we made our way along track to the Argentinian border where we met Christian Maciel and his Gendarmerie collegues. The information we got off them wasn't good. The river was problably too high to be crossed. Maybe 2 meters! There was lots of muttering between us, we all wanted to give it a go and at least have a look ! So off we all went in the three vehicles to see if we could cross. The Gendarmerie officers sitting in Thomas's camper. We got to the first "puddle" and couldn't even get through that. I got my feet wet for the second time that day as the earlier river crossign was easy in comparison. This one although narrow was very rutted in the middle and it was too high. Remembering the previous place where my rear axle dragged in the mud I bottled the crossing and said "no way". The Gendarmerie offered to get the Uni-Mog and take us to the main river. Of course we all said yes. Who wants to turn down a trip on the flat bed of a Mog to see something they said the Mog couldn't cross.
The rest is sort of obvious. We went on a three hour off road adventure to see the river. I got my feet, legs, shorts, money and private parts wet to see if it was too deep. Too right it was and we would also have been washed away. So mission aborted. The photos of the foot bridge and waterfall posted a few days ago on the excursion. The current and depth in the main channel were too much even for the Mog. The Mog didn't have any brakes !
We moved north to another crossing at Passo Roballos catching up with Bill just as they denied him entry. Thomas turned up just as we were giving up and asked the Gendarmerie in Spanish all about the reasons.
Reason removed. PM me if you want to know why.
We wild camped that night and later found Wi-Fi in Los Antigos and SKYPE called the UK Embassy in Chile. They were somewhat amazed and said they would look into it. Which they did. The rule is legitimate and they didn't know. Most people are let in it seems and not many are denied. We had chosen the wrong border to try (problably the wrong office on duty also). So we decided to try another. We missed out the one at Los Antigos as the Roballos border had called them when we were arguing about getting in. So they knew all about us at Chile Chico on the Chile side of Los Antigos. We went up to Rio Frias and got in. The Gendarmerie were a bit strict on the food we had but eventaully let us in when we showed we had been in four times already with the same food. We thought at one point we wouldn't be let in for the food rather than the real reason. That would have been really bad after the tracks we'd driven to get there !
We were into Chile. After lots of kilometers on tracks to the borders we were on tarmac and Ruta 7. This is absolutely stunning although the tarmac didn't last long. The southern parts are breathtaking so I'm glad we went through where we did. We were the first car since before new year to pass the border and it was already the 6th.
We arrived at the devastation of Chaiten which was flattenend in 2008 by the volcano. Again theres a photo in the other post. The town isn't up to much but we were VERY lucky. We arrived on Sunday and the only boat leaving there is on Monday !!! The only way to leave is via boat. We got up early and secured a ticket for £150 (bloodly hell !!).
So here we are in Puerto Montt in a garage on Wi-Fi. Antoher boat needed to get here but this time is was $22usd so not too bad.
We are on mainland Chile proper......
We made it into Chile. We were actually nearly denied entry due to food we had. The same food which had already been in twice ! The guard was hot on the food but not, it seems, on the steering wheel.
I still need to give a full rundown of whats happened but i'm on the clock here so will post some photos.
As we are in Chaiten the car under the pile of dust is from the 2008 eruption of the local volcano.
We have so much to tell you but the internet is so slow. Main points are that we've been denied entry to Chile due to Matilda being Right Hand Drive. This is a new one on us....nothing on the internet but the rule is legitimate. We have the embassy on the case and if they've just started enforcing the rule which was issued in 2005 then its a big problem for other overlanders !!!
We killed a Armadillo...and missed the next one we saw...took photos of both of course. Sorry little fella....i nearly turned Matilda over trying to avoid you !
"slightly flat with a rippled under side".....(those of you who remember the advert)
We tried to cross into Chile at a very unknown border first and we didn't make it across the river as it was too high. We made it across the smaller rivers and I got my feet and shorts wet testing the depth. Luckily on the second water crossing I went in and checked the depth again. We would have got stuck in the mud for sure. So we went back and got the Uni-Mog out....the Argentinian border guards took us on a three hour joy ride to see the river we could not cross. I spent about 40 mins in the freezing water looking for places to cross. No chance in crossing at Bello to Villa O'Higgins in summer as there is too much water in the main river. If you are on a peddle cycle and fancy a hard couple of days they OK. Motorcycles and cars can forget it. The Argentinian border post at Bello were fantastic !
Second attempt was tried by Bill and Rosemary and they were denied just as we arrived. Right Hand Drive cars are not allowed in Chile....even though we've already been in twice !!!
So they called the next border and we are knackered. Embassy is on the case trying to find a diplomatic solution we hope !
More on all this later.....
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