Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our First Road Trip with Maz

Today was exhausting.   We drove for twelve hours straight and saw some amazing country side.   We started the adventure in the village of Llife, Chile and finished in the town of El Bolson, Argentina, completing our first border crossing with Maz, our new truck. 

At the beginning of the day, we had a choice to make.  There were two ways leading to the highway and eventually to the border.  One route was a dirt road, beautiful but slow.  The other was a paved road, quick, but soulless.  We chose the adventure.  Along the bumpy road, we passed small lakes, rivers, and rural farming towns.    Rain poured continuously and turned the dirt road into mud.  The rough road did not last forever and soon we turned on to the highway.  After a quick lunch and a long drive, we arrived at the Chilean side of the border.

The first sign of an easy border crossing was the absence of lines.  At the Chilean aduana (immigration), we walked right into the clean and official building and up to the open counter marked “step one, Policia Internationale”.  The officials inside spoke minimal English and we communicated in Spanish and hand gestures.  We had heard that border officials might harass us, scrutinize our documents, and keep us a long time at the border.  Sometimes, they also might search the car.  We found nothing of the sort.  People were nice to us and let us pass unsearched.  I think it was our box of neatly organized papers or it might have been just traveling with a kid.  I am good at the wide eyed “Please let us go through” look.        

From the Chilean frontier to the Argentinean frontier, was a forty five minute drive through no man’s land.  This was no ordinary drive.  Near the border, Vulcan Puyehue had erupted within the last six months.  This explosion did its damage not with lava but with ash.  Along the road between borders, there were dead trees covered in grey ash.  On the ground were high piles of ash.  It looked almost like snow in its massive amount.  Some of the ash looked like grey sand, but some looked like tiny pebbles of gravel.  As we drove, the rain poured and made the scene even more grey and dismal. 

After gliding through the Argentinean border, the scenery changed.  The land scape was beautiful, but in a different way.  Chile was green and lush, this was a high and dry mountain plain.  The ash and dead trees were replaced with low and cliffy mountains.  Desert plants littered the side of the road, brittle and dry.  

After many hours of driving we came to El Bolson in the dark.  Soon we came upon a minor problem.  We visited a hostel that was recommended by our Lonely Planet guide book.   Sadly, the innkeeper told us that she had no rooms.  It was a three day weekend and she had been turning down costumers all day.  She called all the hostels she knew and the answer was all the same.  She told us about a place to camp and having a tent, we decided to go.  The second problem was that we had no Argentinean money.  We told the camp ground that we would pay tomorrow and spent the evening wandering El Bolson looking for an ATM and a place to eat.  We ate a delicious dinner and I am now writing my blog while my parents set up the tent.  I am so tired, I can’t wait to go to bed!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!


  1. Rohan,
    What a day you had with Maz and your parents! I do hope you all have a good night's sleep.
    I found Vulcan Puyehue and El Bolson on Google maps. That was an interesting ride you had through the vulcanic ash. Reminded me of our drive through the Bastrop, TX area on our way to Houston the past two weekends (once for a funeral and a second time, more happily, for a wedding). There were bad wildfires there last fall and the land looks as devastated as in your pictures.
    I wonder why the dramatic change in scenery when you arrived in Argentina? Can you tell me?
    Love, Grandma Doris

  2. Maybe it was the time shooting B&W film with Ivan, or just cool scenery, but seeing your photo of the ash works. Maybe its because first you painted a grey and dismal picture in my head with your words. Whatever it is, it is working for you. Thanks Rohan, keep them coming. Den

  3. What an a-Maz-ing drive! Glad you didn't get stuck in the mud.

  4. That last photo looks like an oil painting!! How wonderful. Hope you got a good night's sleep. It's almost baseball season, Rohan!! I'll keep you up to date tho' I guess you can read about it on your computer. xoxo