Our first day on the road north, we made it through the border crossing at San Sebastian (Chile) with no issues. But, the weather turned on us by early evening and we were driving through rain and mud. It didn’t help that this was probably the worst road that we have driven in all of Chile. Nothing but trucks, washboard and pot holes. Big ones.
We called it a night when we arrived at Cerro Sombrero. This is a trucking/company town (don’t know which one) and everything seemed to be prefabricated and dropped into place – nothing interesting here. We ended up sleeping behind the gas station. We’re glamorous travelers.
The next day we finally hit pavement again and took what will probably be our last ferry ride for a long time. This one costs about $20 USD and took us to the mainland. Adios, Tierra del Fuego. the Argentina border was only a few minutes up the road and another easy crossing.
Next on the destination list was Rio Gallegos. Not for any reason other than we didn’t have much energy and Simon wanted to go look for someone to repair his muffler. Simon and M.C. have a buyer for their bus in Osorno, Chile so we’re going to travel together a bit longer until they cut West. They’re cool folks and fun to travel with… and it doesn’t hurt to have a backup when your driving an old bus.
Rio Gallegos is a bigger town, but there’s not much worth mentioning here, either. We had heard that the stretch of road up to Buenos Aires is the most boring drive on the continent. We were hoping to prove it wrong, but so far it’s been pretty dull. And, there’s the wind. It’s not in any of our photos, but it’s one of the most memorable things about this part of the world. It can be unforgiving – like, the next day.
We started out to Puerto San Julian into a stiff headwind. Our max speed was under 40 mph with the pedal on the floor. The pop-top was going crazy with each big gust and then POOF! It went up. We quickly pulled over and realized the left bolt holding the front scissor hinge sheared off. Just going out and inspecting was harrowing with the top flopping up and down in the gusts – Angela stayed inside and wrestled the pop top handle down with all her weight to prevent it from flying off and breaking the rest of the mechanism. I quickly put some bailing wire through the hole and called it good – Angela continued to hold the handle while we slowly crept along.
Ten minutes later and the next time a big truck passed… POOF. The bailing wire broke. Simon was quick to pull out a thick cotter pin and it did the trick… for a while.
Twenty minutes later and POOF! This time the front bolts held, but the brackets that hold the rubber tie-downs in the middle and back yielded and bent out of shape, releasing the tie downs. And, one of the tie downs was ripped.
This wasn’t fun.
I bent them back into place, but they were now weak and useless. Again, Simon came to the rescue with a big roll of duct tape. Duct tape went everywhere. I pulled out our trusty rope we’ve been carrying around since Bolivia and tied down the front section through the windows.
We drove… really slowly all the way to Puerto San Julian. The rope and duct tape held. Each time a truck passed, we slowed even more and pulled over to the shoulder. The double-decker buses were the worst.