Green Light to Argentina

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Friday, March 25, 2005

It arrived!!...and it's the right size! By mid-morning on Tuesday our friendly and easy-going mechanic Santiago had the windshield in his hands. He confidently assured us that he could have it fitted and all the remaining work completed by Wednesday evening. We were somewhat sceptical as many of the repairs that could have been finished over the past two weeks were still either works in progress or were totally untouched. Poor DC3 looked very sad and neglected, sitting in the workshop amongst at least a dozen other partially disassembled vehicles that looked as if they had been waiting for spare parts for months.

Over the next day and a half the crew at "Automotora Santiago" worked miracles. They beavered away on the bodywork, straightening and easing everything back into shape. They filled, primed and painted. Eventually the windshield took its rightful place - a perfect fit. The fibreglass luggage rack was repaired, reinforced and painted. The mirror was fixed, the bumper straightened and the mudflaps replaced. The propane system was overhauled and new brackets fashioned for the muffler. By 11:30 pm on Wednesday evening we took delivery of the van, and it was 'as good as new'. We were amazed and tremendously pleased and relieved. Santiago had come through....with half an hour to spare!

Thursday morning, after a thorough cleaning inside and out, we got the propane tank refilled and re-packed everything back into the van. After saying our goodbyes to all the friends we had made in Coyhaique, and a final visit to the workshop to thank Santiago and his side-kick Daniel again, we were back on the road. What a great feeling!!

Our quickest way to get back on track was to take the ferry across Lago General Carrera to Chile Chico and through the border into Argentina. Unfortunately, because of Semana Santa (Easter Week) the ferry was booked solid, and it seemed that we would have to take a very bad road through a rather out-of-the-way border crossing. When we got to Puerto Ing Ibáñez we thought it would be at least worth a try to see if they could squeeze us onto the boat. Sure enough, our luck was holding - there had been two cancellations and there was plenty of room. After a two-hour crossing we arrived at the other side of the lake as the almost-full moon dramatically made its appearance.

Within half an hour we had completed all the customs and immigration formalities for exiting Chile and entering Argentina, and were making our way on a moonlit drive alongside the lake to the little town of Perito Moreno (not to be confused with the famous glacier of the same name, of which you will shortly hear more). The air is starting to get a little chilly these evenings, so we were delighted to find that when we checked into the Municipal Camping they had a feature that we had not come across in a fourteen months of campsites - heated bathrooms. What luxury!!

Happy Easter, everyone.
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