After the volcanoes and lakes region in Chile, we made a serious detour through Argentina. The liability car insurance for South America is registered at the address of a couple of German ex-travelers, who have been living in Argentina with their family for 15 years. Klaus had to part with both his parents this summer and cleared out the family home in Germany. He asked Adriaan to bring some of the heritage with him to Argentina, so our car spent several months lugging 46 kg of hand tools, machine parts and sprayers. Klaus and Claudia live on a vast terrain of which a part is used as a camp site for 'overlanders' (mostly German speakers). We stayed there for a few days. I even found a hairdresser in the nearby town but due to my limited Spanish knowledge, my carefully-saved curls came off.
After this great detour and much beauty, we returned to Chile and met two of our French (boat) friends at the foot of the Osorno volcano. We spent several days together.
We spent the week before Christmas on Chile's second largest island: Chiloë. The (southern) ferry only sails twice a week. The island has about 15 wooden churches which have been declared an UNESCO heritage site. We saw 2 of them so we had some time left to spot penguins.
Adriaan and I have taurus as our zodiac sign: We are both bon vivants (and stubborn) and we both love good food and drink. Fortunately we have the same taste. We either prepare our own food or go out to eat in a restaurant. Adriaan grills pieces of fresh fish or meat on wood fires next to the car. We pay more attention to our meals, both preparing them and enjoying them, because we have more time for them.
I saw a Dutch program in Europe where the presenter took a trip through Uruguay and said he couldn't find the national dish "chivito" in Uruguay. We found it in the first hour in Montevideo. Chivito is a sandwich with meat, tomato, lettuce, ham, egg and vegetables and you really have to be a Hippo to get it cleanly into your mouth.
Whenever there's no fire pit with grate available, we use the grate that travels with us on the roof of the Toyota. And like most men, Adriaan enjoys making fires.
We were in Laguna Torca National Park on the coast in Chile. We had an appointment with the fishermen for the next day: at 1 p.m. we would get a fresh fish (Merluza). It was picked from the net and prepared by Adriaan a few hours later. Delicious.
On the Chilean coast, we found 'Ostiones' (scallops) The owners of the café were not allowed to serve a glass of wine. No problem: we'll go buy a bottle of 'Sauvignon Blanc' at the local store and pour it into a coffee mug. Also very tasty from a mug.
Or the preparation of mussels at a campsite. It became a challenge to prepare these giants. 7 mussels per kilogram and to be honest: our small Zeeland mussels have much more flavor.
Our 'mis en place'. Real wine glasses and white napkins are part of the deal :)
Our cooking stove: no luxury but it works pretty well.
Breakfast at a market in Bolivia. Eating at markets is not always the most hygienic but fun.
Or at restaurants. I really like Ceviche: raw fish or shellfish cooked by the acid of lime.
We keep looking for quiet ( wilderness ) places to sleep or almost deserted campsites. The latter is becoming more difficult as the summer vacations have really started. For example, we were at a campground where a group of young people and their sound system were still not ready for sleep at 3:00 am. We found a unique quiet spot by the sea and were woken up in the morning by a class of teenagers who quickly turned it into a beach disco. Even at a completely deserted campground, we are not always safe: for example, we were once awakened by a couple of unleashed bulls banging against our car. But we usually find quiet places to sleep!
The pace of travel is slowing down. In a few weeks we have not moved more than 6 latitudes south. We are getting more and more into the Patagonian region and enjoying the climate on the west side of the Andes... including rain!
To describe all the beautiful things we see would be boring. However, we continue to gaze at everything in admiration. Even the pictures don't quite capture it, I think. Hopefully we will never get used to so much unspoiled natural beauty.
We are still 1500 km from our southernmost point. If we see a nice spot by a lake or river along the way, we stop. Exceptionally, we only get 10 km further. On December 21, summer has begun. We still have a few months to reach Ushuïa and head back north before it gets too cold to sleep outside.
We meet other travelers daily. Swiss, Germans, Americans and exceptionally Belgians. The encounters are fun. We all have the same goal : to travel, to experience and to be happy.
Christmas was an ordinary day. I missed the cold, dark evenings with the cosiness of the Christmas trees with many lights. But I missed the family celebration even more...