Thursday, 15 January 2015

0180 Chillan to Lago Puyehue

15th Jan 2015

Well, that was a busy night !!  Although they didn’t keep me awake too much, there were some trucks that were obviously having trouble getting round the corner where I was parked, and because they had to keep reversing, it was their reversing bleepers that woke me up !!  I finally got up to check what was going on (this was about midnight), and found that the problem was not me, but another truck that had parked in a no parking area, thus making it hard for other trucks to get round the corner.  So I decided to make sure none of them came any closer to me, and I jumped into the drivers seat and drove up onto the grass verge – Now there was no way they could blame me !!  No more truck problems, but at 2 am there was a knocking on Troopie’s door, and when I peered out of the curtains, it was the Carabinieri de Chile, with the lights on their van flashing !!  Uh oh – What now ?

Well it turned out that all they wanted to do was suggest that I put my porta potti inside (it was tucked under the back of the vehicle) because they felt one of the truck drivers might try to steal anything that wasn’t tied down !   I told them that I thought that any truckie who stole my porta potti would be in for a big surprise, and would probably bring it back very quickly, although I think my comments went over their head.  So with lots of “gracias’s” I again grabbed my shorts and T shirt and ventured outside, put the offending item inside the car, and then went back to bed, not to be disturbed again until I woke up at about 6.30 am !

I had my breakfast and packed up, and the car park was absolutely full of trucks everywhere – There must have been over 100 trucks in there !  I then went inside the gas station complex for my shower.  500 cents – About $1 – and I was given a spotlessly clean toilet / shower combination room – With seat on toilet !  It was a bit like the ones you get in airline lounges  - Very new and clean.  After a brief hiccup when I thought the hot water was never going to come through, I ended up having one of the best showers of the trip - most impressed by the amenities of the S. Chile gas stations.  I noticed that all the gas stations on this highway 5, regardless of company, not only have showers, but have big signs up advertising their availability.  Who needs camp sites when you can sleep in these places for free ?

Back on the road south, and today was pretty boring road wise, as was yesterday.  It was just this never ending, mostly straight, very flat, dual carriageway.  Lots of forests, lots of lumber trucks on the road, and lots of saw mills beside the road – Obviously a big business round here.  Still a lot of agriculture, although the fruit of yesterday seems to have largely been replaced by wheat (or other grains – I am no expert) and there were a lot of big John Deere and New Holland combine harvesters and other large agricultural equipment moving down the road.

I was back on the road by about 8 am, and not much happening until we had a bit of a dip and bend in the road, with lots of “Peligrosa”  signs to warn everyone of the first corner in miles.  But one truck driver obviously couldn’t read the signs, so when I came round the blind corner (no one in front of me) I was suddenly confronted by about 20 plastic 5 gal pails in the road, mostly split open, and white paint
everywhere !!  Unfortunately no pics because I was too busy trying to weave through the cans and also try to avoid as many of the paint puddles as I could !  It had obviously just happened as the paint was still flowing across the road in some places !!  And I just had the car washed yesterday by the Toyota dealer !!  Grrrrr.  Lucky bit was that at least it was white paint, and Troopie is also white – I pity anyone in a green or a black car !!!  I expected the truck to be pulled over just round the corner in order to clean up his mess, or at least stabilise the rest of his load – But Oh no.  It was about 10 minutes before I caught up with him still speeding along, with the broken plastic tie wrap flapping gaily behind his truck like a banner as if to say “Here I am – I am the idiot who just tipped while paint all over the road and didn’t stop to clean it up, or at least move some of the full pails of paint off the road so no one else would hit them” !  His truck was a low loader with no side rails or way of keeping his load on the back except for a few ropes.  And there in the middle was an almost empty pallet of (what was once) 5 gallon pails, and the few remaining now ready to fall off again.  I was most reserved, and just gave him a look as if to say “What a moron” (in Spanish, of course) and left him to it. He knew I knew, and gave me a very sheepish look back !!   I hope the cops got him because it really was a BIG mess.  Only about 5 miles further down the road was another fairly sharp corner near a big yellow viaduct, so unless the driver  did something to prevent it, there is no way the remaining pails would have stayed on the truck !

Not much further up the road was a gas station, and when I pulled in for a coffee and to inspect the (paint) damage on my car, I found about 20 other people all doing the same thing – And some of them DID have green and black cars and were MOST upset, especially since the paint had now dried in the wind !!  One guy in a Porsche Cayenne was especially upset !!

After that, it was back to boring freeway, until I stopped for lunch – In another gas station !  Over the last few kms I had seen glimpses of several snowcapped volcanos in the distance – They actually looked most incongruous, as if Mt Fuji had suddenly been put  in there amongst all the pine forests ! The biggest of them was the 2841 m Mt Villarrica, and when I stopped for lunch, it was still visible behind me in the haze. 

Filled up all my drinking water bottles at the potable water fountain in the gas station (is there no end to the services these places offer ?) , and then continued on down the road for about an hour, when I entered the Lake District area, known for the scenic beauty of its many lakes and volcanos.  We crossed quite a few big rivers, with the volcanos in the background, and at Osorno I turned east off the boring Ruta 5 freeway and headed into the heart of the northern Lake District, with the Argentine border and Bariloche ahead.  I had found (in my iOverlander programme) a potential camp site beside Lago Puyehue, and so we just pottered up this narrow 2-way road with lots of roadworks – Enjoying the lack of freeway boredom !  Fair enough, the freeway has enabled me to knock of quite a few miles in 2 days , for which I have to be thankful.  There were plenty of other detours off to scenic places on the way south, but if I stopped at all of them, I would still be here in 2025 !!!  But it was still good to get off the busy freeway.

Driving east on Hwy 215 there were a number of snow capped ranges, but 3 peaks in particular stood out.  The was another Mt Fuji look-alike to the south, which I later confirmed to be the 2652 m Volcan Osorno, and there were two more ahead of us to the east – Volcan Carran and the 2240 m peak of Volcan Puyehue, after which the lake I am camped beside is named.  This peak is amazing – It looks so sharp at the top that it could have been finished off in a
pencil (or volcano !) sharpener !  It really looks as though it has never yet erupted and blown its top off.  Most distinctive.   Anyway. I dropped into the little township of Entre Lagos (Between the Lakes) and found my camp site exactly where it was supposed to be according to my Garmin, right beside the Lago Puyehue – Even a little gate down onto the little beach beside the water.  A very pleasant spot, and as they claim to have wifi, I will check it out in due course and hopefully get to update all this lot !

So all good here.  Should cross into Argentina tomorrow, and then I can start the search (yet again) for some Argentine money.  Unless you have been here, you have NO IDEA how hard it is to get cash in Argentina  – ATM’s often don’t accept western visa cards, many banks won’t change US $’s, and even if they do, it is at a lousy exchange rate.  So one has to traipse round the shops trying to find one who will act as a cambio and change some money at a decent rate !  And when you DO find a Cambio man, he gives you a better rate of exchange if you have $100 bills than he will if you only have $20 or $10 bills.  What do I have ?   All $20 and $10 bills, don’t I ?    Ahhhhh - The joys of South America !!  It is great to be back !

Pics here :-


  1. Great read Tolstoy! So pleased that you're back on the road and that the uncomplicated things in life, such as toilet seats, ring your bell. Continuar su aventura y pasar un buen rato !

  2. Met you at Colonia suiza, bariloche. Please keep posting about your journey, I'm having a blast reading it!
    Safe travels and good adventure Giles !
    Lautaro, Lincoln Bs As