Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chilean Mis-Adventure Part 1

Sunrise on the Side of the road
The Departure:

This trip has been surprising to say the least.  Since our initial arrival, in Santiago we have been met with some pretty interesting problems.  The last few days have been some of the hardest traveling days I have ever had.  After leaving Santiago with a new head gasket on the van, several days of waiting in a hostel behind us and the thought of kayaking on our minds, we were stoked to get on the road.  The van hummed along on Route 5 for hours and we turned off the interstate thinking we would be at the take out campsite of the Vientedos section of the Claro by midnight. 

Instead, our road trip ended abruptly when the van suddenly died while climbing a hill about 20 km outside the little town of Molina.  With the van overheating and our nerves shot we crashed on the side of the road with plans to limp the van into town the next day.

The Push Back to Town:

The morning was cold, with mist hanging thick around us.  As the sun broke over the hills the mist receded and it slowly warmed up.

Sun burning off the early morning mist
Tango and I were the first up.  We hung our sleeping bags etc. out to dry on the van and sat on the side of the road, waiting for the others to get up and the temperature to rise.  We knew we were definitely not going to kayak. 

After the others woke up we tried to start the van with no luck.  The car didn’t want to turn over and the battery was getting weaker with every attempt.  We decided the only thing we could do was try to push the van as far as we could and hopefully get the attention of someone that would help us.   We tried everything from push-starting the vehicle to starting it in 2nd with no luck.  We ended up pushing the van for several km and then sat down on the side of the road.  Mentally and physically spent, we quietly hoped that someone would take pity on the gringos and give us a tow.  We got our break from a traveling produce salesman who charged us the rest of his day’s salary to tow us down to a mechanic in town.  We gladly paid.

Our heap arrived at the mechanic and we waited to for the prognosis.   The sudden loss of power seemed to be a bad sign and the fact that we couldn’t even get the car started all morning seemed even worse.  We were not hopeful.
Baer waiting for the Mechanic
We had a little time to explore the town of Molina while we waited for the van to get fixed.  The colors the Chileans use on houses and the street art here is incredible.  From full-on graffiti, to murals and advertisements, the colors and artistry of the street paintings are amazing.
Molina Street
Mechanic's Storefront
After adjusting the distributor cap, the mechanics gave the van a hesitant thumbs-up and we decided to make the trip back up into the Rio Claro valley. 

The Delica’s Final Play:

Fast forward 5 hours.  We find ourselves sitting next to a dead van even farther away from town, on a dirt road, mere km’s from the Claro.  The van had shown some signs of problems as we drove, but we didn’t have many options for a test drive.  We had decided to try the Claro road again for the test with the added bonus of whitewater at the end.  Instead of the smooth drive to the top we wanted, we had to push the van uphill for several km until finally darkness and exhaustion took over.   Again, we decided to set up camp and try again in the morning.
One of many tows
We woke early with the heavy weight of a dead van on our backs.  After some discussion we began pushing the van down the road toward the nearest village some 5 km away.   We didn’t get far. Two tows and a bunch of waiting later we were still stuck on the dirt road many kms from Molina.  This time there was no doubt the van was dead.
Wes facing our reality
Chile Misadventures Part 2 to come….

….and maybe some kayaking too

1 comment:

  1. so I hope to read in Chile misadventures part 2 about the POS van getting hurled off a cliff in a fiery, satisfying blaze of glory...I want pictures too.