Our goal was to get to Ushuaia in Argentina for Christmas. This is about the most southerly town of any size in the world. However to get there you actually have to enter Chile for a few hundred kilometres and then back out into Argentina. In effect Argentina has a small plot that is isolated from the rest of the country by a piece of Chile.
There is also a ferry to get just after the Chilean border.
Border crossings are all very similar and you really need to allocate a few hours for each. So far our timing at the borders has been impeccably bad. We always seem to turn up just behind 3 coach loads of tourist. There is nothing more depressing than joining a very long queue and nobody joins it behind you.
Pat did however, adopt a lone Swiss motorcyclist called Jan, who became quite a feature over the Xmas period .
Smuggling food across borders is now normal. The vehicle searches are brief, but I am sure we will get caught sooner or later. Retrieving 2 kilos of prawns and a pineapple out of your backside is however quite unpleasant for all parties involved
The ferry to the main part of Chile cost 680 Argentinian Pesos and took about 30 minutes
We headed for the first sizable town called Cerro Sombrerro and a set up camp in the closed camp site, only to be quickly evicted by the owner. We then discovered a group of travellers all camped out in the garden of the Tourist Information building that had good wifi and heated toilets and showers for free.
That night we had 11 in the truck for a drink, from various nationalities including German, Swiss, Finnish and American. It was a really great night.
What we didn't know was that the next day would be a disaster that we will remember.
As previously mentioned we had to leave Chile and re enter Argentina. For some reason the exit from one country to the entry to the next are about 15km apart so in essence its like doing two separate border crossings .
I have also mentioned the wind being dangerous, well it really caught us out here.
At the exit from Chile the force of the wind was such that we could hardly stand up. We had finished the exit procedure and had just got back to the truck . Pat opened the cab passenger door by about an inch and the wind caught it and flung the door open. This pulled Pat out of the cab and threw her horizontally to her landing site that was about 3 meters from the vehicle . She landed on her back ( she must practice her landings ) and we really thought she had caused some serious injury . A man stopped in his car to help us but couldn't actually get to us against the wind even though he was crawling on his hands and knees.
I couldn't shut the cab door against the wind and I really thought we would also lose the door.
Pat was in agony and we managed to get her laying down in the lower bed and eventually continue the journey. The entry into Argentina was interesting as Pat couldn't get to the border office . They let us in with a bit of persuasion .
Pat had to travel in the back laying down all the way to Ushuaia . It was like driving an ambulance .
The preceding 100 km before Ushuaia were really beautiful and scenic. You enter Ushuaia via a main gate to be confronted by the very disappointing view of an industrial commercial dump.
We did question at this point whether it was worth the journey. However, once you get through the commercial part the port area was really quite pleasant and we parked on the waterfront for a few nights .
By now Pats bruise had grown to to about the size of Alaska . Ouch.
Whilst parked at this point we saw a small rowing boat come ashore full of King Crabs, so I employed my best negotiating skills and payed well over the top for a Crab. It was enormous and very much alive and hell bent on escape. Feeling sorry for him we took him for a drive round town to show him the sights then converted him into lunch. He served his country well .
To make Pat feel better we teamed up with our Brazilian friends, Nicholas and Ellis, and hit the the local Casino, which was in fact a collection of posh slot machines . We completely blew about £5.00 but it put a smile back on Pat's face.
We decided that this wasn't the place for Christmas so we all moved to a really beautiful camping area just out of town It was set in a steep sided valley and you could catch trout in the river.
Eight for Christmas dinner in the truck was a challenge but it was a great night.
We returned to the port area of Ushuaia and for the first time all was calm. Absolutely stunning
We are not sure where we are heading now but I can guarantee it will be north.