For anyone that´s seen Planes, Trains and Automobiles, you´ll know what today´s been like, albeit without the mistaken pillows. Woke up at half 4 this morning, took 3 buses and 2 cabs, crossed a time zone and an international border, and have eventually made it to Termas de Chillan at 9pm, 10pm in Argentina, 400kms south of Santiago in the longest thinnest, Chile.
The border is old as the hills and takes forever to get through. The authorities love their checkpoints down here. You´re busy as, watching a huge volcano grow bigger as you approach it, then... admin. It takes a lifetime to go through the Argentinian exit procedure, drive the potholed dirt road through 2 kms of no-man´s-land (literally, nothing but nature - no signs, no houses, no people, nothing; it´s like stepping back in time, when there was none of us lot about, like Jurassic Park) to then get snarled up in the Chilean entrance experience. And then I got really thrown when the entrance dude asked if I was German, while fixedly staring at my UK AND NORTHERN IRELAND passport. Luckily, a lovely Chilean bloke and his wife helped me out - brilliant English, with a surf twang, 32 years in Woolongong, south of Sydney, visiting their daughter, no more information required I feel. The German connection was swiftly dealt with.
The first 50 kms of Chile are, simply, destitute. We went over the Mamuil Mamal mountain pass, and as you enter Chile there´s nowt but unpaved roads and shanty houses, not many mind, but those that are there are caput. Hobbit-like people with hook noses and warts are busy skinning goats on the front stoop of every ramshackle one - well, not really, but you get the idea. Very rural, I think is the phrase I´m looking for.
Made it to Temuco in Chile, and then tried to book a bus to the gateway town, Chillan. "Quisiera comprar un boleto para Chillan, por favor" (C´mon admit it, you´re impressed...) After asking for the ticket, she tells me that the price is 4 and a half grand. "Cuanto?!" 4 and a half gee´s? Christ, I thought, forgetting I was in Chile. As the exchange rate stands today, your GB pound gets you 926 Chilean pesos, so the 4 hour bus journey costs just shy of a fiver. Good-oh, back in 5 with some cash. The machine doesn´t work. Back to the desk, her machine doesn´t work. I have no money, therefore no ticket. Then, to my amazement, 2 Chilean girls tap me on the shoulder, say Excuse Me in Spanish, and pay for the thing. Right there. No bother. I had nothing to give them at all, so oddly I put my hands together and bowed, Japanese-style, while saying thanks in Spanish. Good combo Christian, very thoughtful...
Anyhow, blah blah blah - now in the hotel Piarminuahuimenuiahuahauni something or other near Termas de Chillan, in a little village called Las Trancas. It´s only a 10 miniute drive up the hill to the resort, so tomorrow morning it´s the first of the Chilean shred action. Yes yes oh yes - does it get any better than this?
Night all - x