It's not all sunshine....
On a long trip like this one, changes in weather are to be expected and it can’t be sunny everyday. In full acceptance of that we settle in for a quiet midsummer weekend at the Lagos Peñuelas nature reserve, in Valparaiso, Chile. The rain doesn’t dampen our mood, even though it carries on through the whole weekend. We spend our time relaxing inside the camper by reading and watching movies on the laptop. Pekka immerses himself in Sudoku and I carry on my lifelong crochet project; a double bedspread.
Come Monday morning we’re feeling rested and ready to crack on with sorting out the aftermath of the recent brake in. We could also do with filling up our fridge in the nearby town of Viña del Mar. I go out to lift the barrier from out of the way while Pekka attempts to drive the car off the campsite’s grassy field. Then, all of the sudden, the wet ground gives way and our 5 tonnes of car sinks up to it’s belly in mud. Epeli is left tilted to it’s side, so that the drivers side has sunk deep in the mud and the wheels on the other side are left in spinning in the air. Without any friction, even the snow chains and the differential lock are as good as useless.
There’s no choice but to start shoveling. After two hours of digging and various attempts at breaking free we find ourselves stuck even deeper than when we started. I head off to find help from the nature reserve’s reception and after a little while, a small tractor arrives on the scene. A half an hour later, Epeli remains stuck, and now to top it all off, the tractor is stuck too. So the shoveling continues. We get told that a bigger tractor could be sent out to us in the morning, so until then all we can do is wait. Pekka spends the evening digging, clearing out a wider lane in readiness for the morning.
We spend the night in our lopsided camper bed, and wake up to a new day feeling hopeful. The bigger tractor we were expecting never arrives, instead we receive news that it’s broken down on its way to us. We ask the receptionist to call for a recovery vehicle with a winch and after a few hours, one arrives. The camper gets chained to a tree and with the help of the winch we make a new attempt to free ourselves off the mud. The chains break within the first ten minutes and on the next attempt, the winch cable snaps too, along with the patience of our recovery guy who gets in his vehicle and drives off in a huff. We’ve now been stuck for over 24h and moved a mere metre in the process.
Getting another recovery truck takes a little longer, because we have to order it to be sent from Santiago. After a couple of hours a truck does arrive and it proves itself to be very efficient, getting Epeli out within minutes. By this time it’s getting dark again though, so we decide to stay on the campsite for one more night. Feeling somewhat weary by this point, we go to the nearby stream to wash the car, tires and chains etc clean after the recent mud bath.
The next morning we leave the nature reserve behind and reach a highway, only to notice that Epeli is driving wonky, almost like it’s drunk or something. Much to our dismay the track rod has bent pretty badly in the recovery operation and we’ve got to get it fixed asap.
Before then, however, we’ll have to fetch some food supplies, since the extra days spent on the campsite reduced our supplies down to bug infested crackers and Russian tin food.
I get a move on and head off to buy food from the big supermarket and on my way in, stop by an ATM in the supermarket lobby to draw out some cash. After loading my trolley full of fresh food I’m in for the next surprise; I’ve left my bank card in the ATM! After half an hour I get told that I won’t be able to get my card back without a Chilean ID number, and by this point I’m definitely no longer filled with smiles and sunshine!
Today, is a new day though. We wake up in the morning on solid ground at a campsite in the fishing village of Horcon. Pekka welds in some new parts for the car with the help of the site manager. We also hear that the boat carrying our new tires has just arrived in Valparaiso harbour after three long months of waiting. The sun is back!