Before entering Chile, we were kept at the Bolivian border for 5 hours. This was because there was snow covering the road which connected the two borders. The Chilean border control thought it was too dangerous for cars to drive. Eventually, a van came to pick us up and take us to the Chilean border.
While the security guard was looking through our bags, he taught us the Chilean soccer theme song, as the ‘Copa del America’ was starting that day: “ Chi-Chi-Chi Le-Le-Le- Viva Chile”. After stamping our passports, we took a short bus journey to a small quaint town called ‘San Pedro De Atacama’
During our time there, we celebrated dad’s birthday. There was an outside grill at our hostel so we had a ‘lekker braai’ / BBQ – Chile is well known for it’s wine and meat. Dad had a fantastic birthday.
Santiago, the capital of Chile was our next destination, and we took a plane to get there. Our main purpose was to find and book a camper-van to discover more of Chile. Finally we found and booked a van through ‘Andes Campers’ named ‘Nomad’ and we were ready for the exciting journey ahead.
The first day, dad had to get used to driving a van as well as driving on the right side of the road. When it was getting dark dad accidentally turned down a one way road the wrong way, and nearly collided with an oncoming car. After searching for a place to camp, we finally found the perfect spot by the beach. It was quite difficult to set up the beds but we got the hang of it. I found sleeping by the sea very calm, because I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks.
The second day we drove to a surf town and stayed at a luxurious campsite. When dad was checking in, the receptionist offered us the chance to use the hot tub. Later that evening the hot tub was heated up for us. When we first got in the water was too hot! Then we stirred it with an ore which cooled the water down until it was warm. Eventually, after 2 hours passed we made the decision to get out the tub. First dad tried to get out, but the air was too cold and he jumped back in the tub!
The following day whilst driving, the van got stuck on a hill because it was too steep. Dad tried a couple times to drive the van up the hill, but it kept sliding down. Eventually we had to take the heavy things out: wood, chairs, bags and us (except dad!). That still didn’t work, so mom drained the water tank. Finally it worked, but we had to bring up all the things we took out and put them back into the van. While we were loading the van, dad went to check the road ahead. Unfortunately there were steeper hills, so we decided to turn around. That evening we found a beautiful spot by a lake. The sunset was amazing because it was winter solstice. While watching the sun go down we listened to opera and had a delicious BBQ
Driving on a quiet highway on our fourth day, the car in front started swerving wildly, and ended up on it’s side in a ditch. Dad instantly stopped, and ran out of the van to help. Some other cars also stopped to help. When dad reached the car, he could hear screams coming from children inside. Dad helped pull the people out of the car. There were three scared children aged 10, 8 and 5 with their mom and dad. We took the kids to the van and gave them some sweets and cake to keep their sugar levels up and help with the shock, while dad and their father spoke to the police. The father waited for a tow truck and we drove the mom and kids to their house which was close by.
At a public campsite, there was a huge beautiful lake, and in the distance we could see the Andes mountain range close to the Argentinian border. When we first arrived there were lots of locals having barbecues and riding motorbikes noisily around the site, so we moved as far as possible and found a nice quiet spot to camp. Dad attempted to swim in the lake but it was too cold. Mum set up the portable shower in a little tent. She used hot water from the kettle to put in the water bag – that was our first shower in days! When the sun set I started carving a knife from a piece of wood using my swiss pocket knife.
On sixth day we drove on a little road parallel to the highway. Before the sun set we realised that our wood supply was low, luckily whilst driving we passed a house selling wood. The lady would only sell us 30 kg so it took us a while to put the wood into the van. Whilst loading the wood into the van, some smelly drunk hobos walked up to us and mumbled something odd in Spanish. Tiana felt a little bit scared that evening incase the hobos came to visit!
There was lots of frost and dew on the grass the next morning, and the ground was very muddy. Dad tried to drive up the small bank onto the road but the wheels spun in the mud, and the van slid down. After a few unsuccessful attempts the van got stuck deeper into the mud, so we decided to go and find help. On the road where we had bought the wood, a figure approach us out of the mist and it turned out to be the hobo from the previous day. When we asked for helped he agreed, but in exchange he wanted our wine. He followed us down to the van and tried to push it up with us, but it didn’t budge. The hobo told us that he would return with more help. Eventually he returned with a truck and three mates. We attached a rope from the truck to the van. While we pushed, the van was being pulled by the truck, and finally we got the van up onto the road. The hobo got his wine with a big smile glued to his face
On the eighth day we returned ‘Nomad’ back to Andes Campers in Santiago, and our huge journey was over. It felt very different sleeping in a bed with lots of space compared to in the van. The shower in the apartment was so nice compared to our last one! I really missed the peace and quiet from the nice fields where we had camped compared to the noisy cars and the hustle and bustle.