Hitting the Open Road & River


Diez de Julio – The Car Parts Street

The next chapter began by fixing up the Van. No sooner had we rumbled back up the hill to Coni’s house before one of the tyres started to go flat. It was in the process of changing the tyre that it dawned on me that not all the tyres were the same size…. That might go a little way to explain the poor handling… It wasn’t even as if front and back were different sizes (that would have made slightly more mechanical sense); the tyres on opposing corners were matching (R80’s vs R70’s). It’s probably for the best, because this meant an afternoon spent on Diez de Julio, hunting down car parts to do a basic service on La Princessa. 

Before I get into the rest of the story, a quick update on the project. We are well on our way to the $5000 goal, with $3529 pledged as of today. With a massive show of support and a few key people jumping onboard we are truly on the home stretch now. Once again, enormous thanks to everyone who has and is contributing, I am quietly hopeful that we might even get this thing off the ground! Only 4 days remain though, so PLEASE we need every little bit to get us over the line! It would be incredibly disappointing to see all the effort so far go to waste if we don’t make the target.

Diez de Julio is a street in Santiago. Santiago is an interesting place, because our superstore style shopping doesn’t really exist, Instead there many many small stores all grouped together on a certain street, dedicated to certain products. I have heard there is a street for used books, a street for home making, i have even heard of a street for used food processors. Avenue Diez de Julio is the street for all things car related. This style shopping is much more fun, as you actually have to hunt around to find what you are after, going from tiny store to tiny store to see if they have the part you need. Its like a real life treasure hunt. Long story short, it turns out auto parts in Santiago are surprisingly cheap. A couple of new tyres, air filter oil filter and oil, then we were on our way. A sketchy car park oil change that afternoon and it felt like driving a new Van (no, just a slightly less old one).

Two Amigos helped me fix the Van

Two Amigos helped me fix the Van

And so my time in Santiago came to an end (for now). I hit the open road and headed south for Pucon. Everything was going perfectly, my little 1000cc engine was purring along at 90km/h, wind in my hair, sun shining, getting 7L/100km no worries. A quick stop and a routine engine check (you can’t be too careful with an old, cheap car) revealed a slight leak on one of the radiator hoses. When poked and prodded to determine the exact source, my small leak turned into a high pressure gush. Using the last 10cm of duct tape on the roll (you know that moment when it runs out!) patching was just not cutting it. Then there was a moment of ‘oh shit- I don’t know how to speak the language, don’t know how to ask for help, and at this rate can only drive another 10km or so’. This moment passed quickly as I jumped inside and buzzed down the highway. Taking the first exit towards Talca, out of the corner of my eye I saw a handwritten sign, with something on it that resembled ‘mechanico’. Down into the backstreets of Talca I went. Found a chop shop in the back blocks, but they seemed pretty busy. A young guy came out; using my limited Spanish and a lot of gestures to the engine it was fairly easy to see that the engine was leaking. The ‘mechanic’ was busy, so we cruised down the road to what I assume was his friends house. His friend didn’t seem interested in helping, so back up to the mechanic we went. Opened up the engine on the sidewalk and made a new hose fit, using somewhat unorthodox methods. I was surprised when all this cost 10 000 pesos; only $20. I could tell the guys though they had a pretty good deal here (getting 10 000 pesos off a gringo! But I was super happy to pay, as the same thing back home would have cost at least $50- what is the bigger rip off?).

Pucon's Volcano

Pucon’s Volcano

I made it to Pucon the next day, and since then there has been plenty of paddling up for grabs. So much so that its been hard to find the time to update this page! Its a hard life down here, every day I plan on having a rest day, or trying to get some work on the Peru project done, but then someone comes up with an idea to run an amazing river instead. Its tough too, because there are so many waterfalls here, its quite ridiculous. Last night for instance I was keen on a good nights sleep, but it rained all night, which in turn brought up the rivers, so instead of having a nice relaxing day we went out and ran Los Nevados. I am told is one of the best runs around Pucon. Essentially a tight creek with about 10 waterfalls in a row, ranging from 5-10m in height. I can’t really describe all the paddling, so check out some of the photos below.

I am making a huge effort to travel slowly, and not rush through Chile. There is  definite tendency to do that, as it seems like most people are on a fairly tight schedule. I am hoping to find some people who are on a similar timeframe as me, so that we can make the journey south, doing lots of hiking along the way.

Anyways, that’s all for now. Please if you haven’t already, check out the project page and consider donating, or convincing someone else to donate. We are so close to the goal now but really need that last bit of effort to get over the line!


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