Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Day 12/13 Chile

Day 12: 139 days left.
Day 13: 138 days left

Before I start, I would like to mention that you may experience a few format and grammatical errors.  I am doing my best to put my best English forward, but I simply do not have the time to thoroughly edit/review everything I type...it would take too much time.  In advance, thanks for understanding.

On Sunday, I decided to take a short trip north, about 2.5 hours, to a place called Horcon, Chile.  Why?  I was told this place had nice beaches and was not a major tourist trap, like Vina del Mar or Valparasio.  I invited several people from the hostel and we were off.  The other reasons why I wanted to do this trip, to test my truck (new tire, and brake line, etc) before passing over the 10,000ft Andes, into Argentina.  I figured 2 more days could not kill me and what more could go wrong?

During the previous night, we agreed to leave the hostel at 9am.   I also informed everyone that I would require them to help pay for the gas.  Everyone agreed.  The following day, as usual, I was up early and ready to go by 8:30am.  Roger and Renata were on time and Nico, was trying to keep Alex on schedule.  I was packing the truck, and while doing so, I noticed a hostel employee cleaning the sidewalk and street.  Being a fisherman, I really hate seeing people doing this (see photo below).  Obviously, this is a global human habit (tough times for broom salesman).

An interesting fact that may make people appreciate how precious water is.  Water is the only element on earth that change form from a solid (ice), to a liquid (water), to a gas (air) and back to liquid and solid; and maintain 100% of its molecular form.  In other words, take another element and change it in some way, shape, or form, and that it's; it will never be the same.  Not to mention, that without water, we would not exist.

Seems that we Americans are not the only ones who clean the streets with water...what a waste of H2O.

True to his habit, Alex the Hungarian, was 30 minutes late.  With Alex, coffee and cigarettes come first and keeping three people waiting, is of no concern to him.  Looking back, I should have left without him.  To spare you most of the drama/details, Alex had no money to help pay for gas, yet he said he would pay me back on Monday (FYI, he failed to do so).  On top of this, I paid for his hostel room the night before (evidently his ATM card was not working).  In all, I gave this kids $40 USD, which may not seem like a whole bunch, but when someone gives me their word, I assume they mean what they say, whether based on $1.00 or $1,000 (when will I ever learn!)

We arrived at Horcon, without any travel issues...Robert from Brasi,l had a Samsung smartphone with GPS.  We discovered  a tiny fisherman's village, now a summer vacation town.  Upon arriving, and after not eating since the previous night, I asked Alex to go to the store to buy me food and water (while I watch the truck).  I gave him about $20 USD and when he took my money, he asked me if he could buy cigarettes with the money. I failed to mention that as he entered the truck 3 hours before, he asked if we could stop to buy cigarettes and smoke inside the truck.  To both of his questions, the answer was NO!  By the second time I said NO to his questions, he got upset at my reply and immediately started to challenge me.  At this moment,  I should have take back the money and gone to get the food myself.  But, watching my truck took first priority, over my hunger.  I really could not believe that after 44 years of my life, and after all that has happened to me/my truck in the past week, that I was now in the this situation, with an obvious nut-ball of a kid (maybe I should have given the opportunity to self-medicate with cigarrettes).   I was not going to kick him to the curb, but I decided right then to no longer give him anything, not even an inch (time to move on).

Robert's smartphone service ended as soon as we hit the edge of town.  So, finding the camp ground that we had seen on the internet became a challenge.  In the end, after driving around this little fishing village several times, on jammed packed streets, we ended up finding a free camping area.  The camping area was just outside of town and the below picture is the very first view as we approached the edge between land and ocean.

El Mar, Pacifico
1/2 fishing village, 1/2 summer vacation destination

Our camping spot was just above the cliff, behing the tree's.  Low tide allowed both man/boy and animals to search  things in the tidal pools.
Estrella del Mar = Starfish

Nutrea = Sea Otter Eating Lunch.
Unfortunately, both in the camping area and on the beach there was lots of trash.  A distinct contrast between natural beauty and man's ugliness.

The second picture above shows how Robert, Renata, and I made our way down to the beach.  The sun was very hot, so we made our way to a shaded spot, which you can see in the third photo.  Based on the long stares, I  don't think the locals see many Americans here...tall, bald headed, bearded Americans, to boot. Anyway, I was soon swimming south of the equator, in the Pacific Ocean (It's been more than a decade). Chilean waters are known to be cold, but the water was comfortable, and considering how intense the sun was, it was extremely refreshing.  You can also notice, like the little boy in the third picture, I was exploring the tidal pools.  The tidal pools were loaded with a rainbow of colorful things...crabs, anemones and a few starfish.   Then a lady started yelling at me and pointing towards one of the rocks.  Amongst people, houses, condo's, and trash, I could not believe that I was now staring at a sea otter.  I watched him chomp down his lunch in a matter of minutes, much like the otters back on the Cocheco River, in Dover, New Hampshire.

As the sun started to set, the shade became a little cold, so we headed back to set up camp.   We soon found that one of the beach dogs, and there were many on the beach, followed us back.  She stayed the entire night with us and was a good camp dog.  In return for her protection, we gave her a few treats, but rather than eating them, she selectively dug holes and buried the food with her nose.  Truth be told, I don't think I have every seen this...our dogs in America are a bit spoiled to be doing such things.

My travel partners had little camping experience and my new friends from Brasil did not have a tent or sleeping bags.  So, I gave them the back of my truck and my two sleeping bags.  Where did I sleep?  I slept inside my tent and I slept in my insulated fishing clothes (wool & fleece).  Dinner was served at sundown; a fusion of one left over empanada from lunch, watermelon, salted almonds, wine and cookies...hardly a meal for five people and a dog.  But, we managed and any hunger that persisted, faded away as the warm flames of the fire filled our tummies.

From L to R: Renata, Alex, Nico, Roger and beach dog.

Despite being close to the ocean, our tinder was extremely dry

Day 13, Monday, was a travel day back to Santiago.  Once again, Alex was not functional without his coffee and cigarettes, and his only 25 years old.  Specifically, it took him almost an hour to pack his bag and tent!  We watched and I believe we all wanted to leave him.  Back in Santiago, I traveled to the Mall, with the hopes of buying Seguro (auto insurance needed to cross the border, into Argentina).  All Chileans or Argentines, and even myself, despite having personal auto insurance must buy another type of seguro, specifically for crossing the border.  Long story short, I went to several companies and they said it is impossible for a foreigner to buy seguro, in Santiago.  Instead, I have to travel to the border and buy it there ( I hope...getting good info can be challenging).  The below photo is of a very large mall in Santiago.  One of the insurance companies was located inside.  The mall had five floors and it was jammed packed with American retail businesses: Adidas,  Nike, Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, and lots more (see caption below photo)

Warning: South America is a very dangerous place!
The remaining day was spent washing my truck and doing a few errands.  Since this was too be my last night in Santiago, I wanted to treat myself to a nice meal.  Oh boy, what a meal!  I had a bowl of small lamb chops, a glass a wine and a salad of carrots, avacado and tomatos.  The lamb was incredible...some of the best I have ever had.

Off to Argentina.

Ciao Amigos