What we didn't expect was the tremendous rush hour traffic and as there was a large school at the top of the hill where our hotel was located the traffic was stopped dead on this road in both directions. Hundreds of four wheel drives going up and down this road with one little child strapped in the back of it.
The hotel proprietor was great. He called for our taxi and said it would be there at 7:45. We waited.7:45 He called again. Only five minutes away. We waited. 8:00, no taxi. He rang again. We waited. We wondered how we would ever get out of the driveway much less down the road. Finally at 8:05 a taxi pulled up and we threw our bags in the boot.
He headed up the hill. Stuck in the biggest traffic jam he pulled into a side road of the school, more 4 wheel drives with all the darlings needing to be as close to the door as a person could possibly get them. Cars honking, stopping cross ways in front of other cars. Finally the taxi driver got through it all. 8:15. We jumped out at the bus station, handed in our ticket and jumped on board. 7 minutes to spare. Too close for comfort in our book.
Eventually we got through the industrialised areas, the small towns and the scenery began to improve.
|A very gray farewell to Peurto Montt|
We began going through the mountains. I would like to tell people to try hard to not have to use a bus toilet whilst going through the mountains. Never having had this experience I am not happy using the loo whilst in the water ski position, hanging on for dear life to the rail, swaying to the left and to the right and back to the left again.
|Driving through a small town.|
As I am prone to motion sickness I took a tablet once back in my seat and it did its job.
Then we began climbing into the mountains.We bagan to see patches of snow. Then we saw more snow and continued our climb upwards. Now the only thing I know about bus rides in South America is when I read the papers about some bus going off a mountain pass. I refused to let me mind engage in these visuals and enjoyed the scenery that became more beautiful by the moment.
It wasn't long until the snow was upon us. It came in huge wet blizzard conditions. It was beautiful. The bus has a gadget on it that limits its speed to 100 km per hour (60 mph). I was happy about that.
There was a great deal of volcanic ash along the way, in the ditches and up the hillsides. A very dry gray looking dust. Watered down by the pouring rain.
|The gray above is volcanic ash piled up by the side of the road.|
There are two volcanoes in this area we went past
Did I mention we'd had a very large storm, gale force winds and driving rains were still continuing from the previous night?? Well, we did.We had slowed to about 50 at this point. There is a sign at the front of the bus that tells passengers how fast it is going. I guess if we go over a mountain it is nice to know we aren't going too quickly.
|A half buried warning sign about how slippery the road is ahead.|
Then the snow was blinding. When I sat very upright to look out the front window I could not see the road and we were still climbing. I was really excited by all of the snow. It was beautiful and I have not seen snow like that in a long time. The bus speed continued to decrease. We passed a couple of snow ploughs and a car full of young people cavorting in the field next to the road. What road? I could barely see a track. The bus was down to 31 kph (18 mph).
|The forests are beautiful and plentiful.|
|Visibility had definitely decreased but so gorgeous. I loved it.|
I was enjoying the view, Tom was enjoying the view, the man to my left up one row had a big smile like a young boy, the other man across the aisle from me was making the sign of the cross several times over and kissing his St Christopher medal. What did he know we didn't?
We then began going down hill. I knew it wouldn't be long before this wet mess was melted enough at lower elevations to show us clear roads again. I was not worried. Good bus, strong tires, lots of weight. One does not grow up in Michigan and not understand snow well.
No ice, not much wind. We were fine. Down, down we went and the speed crept up. 50 KPH, 60. We were doing well and back on track for Beriloche.
We then came into Chile immigration to say goodbye. Everyone off the bus. Everyone lined up in the immigration building. Everyone gets their passport stamped and back on the bus. That was easy.
|Leaving Chile - Immigration|
A few more miles and we come to the customs office of Argentina. Everyone off the bus, everyone in the office lined up, everyone gets passport stamped again. I love getting stamps in my passport.
|Customs office, arriving in Argentina|
Then the bus attendant and driver pull out all of the luggage and drag it to the large X-ray machine. It all goes through the X ray and two piles form at the end of that. Bags to be searched and bags not to be searched. Tom has a large bag and he gets off with no search. Sure enough, my bag gets searched. Can't figure out why as I only have clothes in it.
They opened it up and find, now this is a bit delicate here, a box of ' female medication' is all I can say modestly. At my age you get itchy. This medication makes you not itchy. We're all adults here, we can all understand that. However the men who work in Argentinian customs do not understand this delicate female matter. They also do not speak English. I do not speak Spanish.
They opened the box and to their amazement it must be filled with syringes. No syringes. Hombre Numero Uno examines box. Quizzical look on his face. I say, "Medication, medidicione"...sounds Spanish enough. He looks perplexed, calls over Hombre Numero dos. Bigger man, older man. Medication?? " Si" I say. He calls over the supervisor. By then, every other person on the bus is interested. They must all watch Border Patrol on TV too.
Supervisor pulls out all the foiled wrapped applicators and passes them around to other two men. Audience follows it like a tennis match. I turn around and ask Tom to get up here and translate for me. Hombre Numero 2 pokes my arm with one and says, "Syringe? Needle?"
I shake my head and say " no, no,no, no, no." In Spanish you say No several times. I have three uniformed officers in front of me, all of them holding the medicione and finally one goes, Ah medicione. I asked Tom to get up there and say the word "female medicione" so they all stop playing with the stuff. The bus passengers remain watching avidly. This is much more interesting than the herbs in the previous passengers case.
There are people at these crossings with guns. Big guns. I did not want to get arrested over ' female medicione.' Tom comes forward, through the throng and says in Spanish. " Cream medicine for women only."
Suddenly the men very quickly start jamming everything back into the box, dropping it like it was some diseased reptile. The crowd quickly disperses. No arrests here for drugs. The younger officers hand everything quickly to the older man and he puts it all back together and hands it back to me, "Gracias" and I reply "Gracias" and everyone is muy happy.
Back on the bus.
The incident is soon forgotten as we pass mountain lakes, two volcanoes in the clouds we can barely see and before we know it we have pulled into our bus station in Beriloche. All is well. We found the German hotel we are staying in and the day finished. What a day. It started out very stressful, became very exciting, then quite funny, in hindsight of course, and then safely tucked in for the night. I love travelling. Never know what is around the corner. No doubt, more to come.