Surprise Encounters on the Carretera Austral road
I can't get to sleep, even though we're well into the wee hours. It's stormy outside and Epeli is rocking from side to side, making us feel as if we're on a boat in rough weather , even though we're actually parked up right next to a cliff, sheltered from the wind, or so we thought. The wind brings with it buckets of rainwater, which sloshes against the car windows and walls like waves! Then it gets really loud all of the sudden; the wind and the rain have dislodged some smallish rocks off the cliff and they're raining down on our roof. I hope and pray that no big rocks will fall on us overnight.
By the morning, the wind has pretty much died down. While sipping on our morning coffee by Puyuhuapi bay, we notice a dolphin popping up to the surface every now and then. I try to follow it's movements with my camera, but it's too quick of a swimmer for me to get a decent photo. We're not too sure what type of dolphin it might have been, since there are at least three types of them present here, and it's hard to tell much by the look of the top fin alone.
Our journey continues on the Carretera Austral road, across the mountains. At first the landscape can be described as beautifully rugged wilderness, with its numerous canyons, waterfalls, streams and lakes. Further down the road the vegetation becomes denser and more lush and eventually turns into an impenetrable jungle. I’d never have thought that rainforests could grow somewhere with such low temperatures. Even today, on a summers day, at it's very warmest the temperature barely rises above 10 degrees Celsius. The narrow road is framed by gigantic ferns, some big round leaves not dissimilar to rhubarb leaves, and a dense bamboo forest. Unless one opens the window and feels the chill in the air, it's easy to mistake the scenery for somewhere in Asia. Thankfully the few active volcanoes of the area seem nice and peaceful today.
Los Lagos is a popular area for hiking and other outdoor activities, and we see lots of cyclists about, as well as hitchhikers pining for a lift, often with heavy looking luggage on their backs. We notice a hazard triangle by the roadside and spot a guy working on an old camper van. We stop to ask whether we can help in some way and soon enough Pekka has managed to find the right tools from his tool box and is working together with the man to get the car back on the road. About an hour later the lovely Chilean family are relieved to get driving towards the ferry that they've got tickets for. That's when we realise that we're on our way to the same ferry, but without a ticket! We'd thought that the tickets could be bought on the ferry, but we get told that the ticket office is actually in Chaiten, the village which we passed a little while ago. We line up for the queue to the ferry and wait anxiously to see what happens.
As we're waiting in Ancud for the ferry, we're astonished to hear someone speaking to us in fluent finnish “ hello, Finn. Is that big car yours?” The voice belongs to a small , dark Chilean lady, who tells us that she'd lived in Finland for five years. It's so nice to have a conversation in our native language for a change!
Once all passengers with pre-bought tickets are on board the ferry, the rest of us are let on on a first come first served basis. We get to reverse on board among the last ones to get on.
There are actually three subsequent ferry journeys on route to Puerto Montt. On the patch of land between the ferries we end up rescuing two young girls and their back packs from the pouring rain. From them we hear lots of interesting stuff about the Chilean culture. For example, we learn that drinking mate is a social occasion, with it's own strict rules and rituals, much like the famous tea seremomy in Japan. We haven't tasted mate yet, and are looking forward to the opportunity to put the girls advice to practice!