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Yes, that’s right, we have a car! And not just any car, a bright red Toyota Hilux with boy racer whip – and only 871 km on the clock. The windows still had the delivery stickers on!

Our third car of the trip - Toyota Hilux 3.00 cc Diesel - but only for 3 days!

Our third car of the trip – Toyota Hilux 3.00 cc Diesel – but only for 3 days!

But first, we made a call to Alamo in Santiago – who were surprised that we were still in Vallenar! Not sure why they were surprised, but hey. Next they managed to contact the mechanic in Vallenar – always reactive.
Bad news! Our Nessy had been declared a write off!!! WHAT!?!?

It turned out that the clutch bearing had gone, and as the car was still under guarantee, it had to be taken back to the Nissan dealer in Santiago, in due course. They had no solution of how we might get back – you are on you’re own. Thanks!

Finding it difficult to believe that Europcar Vallenar had no cars at all, we asked the receptionist to call them and make some enquiries. Yes, just received, our Hilux! Could they bring it to the hotel so that we could complete the paper work? No, but she could come and pick us up and take us to the yard to complete formalities. Excellent!

Hosteria Vallenar has our vote for the nicest staff yet, as they allowed us to stay beyond the 12:00 check out time.

There was still a minor niggle that all I had as evidence of the $55,000 Chileno that I had paid out for getting us and the car back to Vallenar was the amount written on a piece of (clean) toilet paper. Again our super woman receptionist came to the rescue, called the man and demanded that he brought a receipt to us. I had given up all hope of seeing that happen, when he turned up with his wife, who did all the book keeping.
Our luck had finally changed.

It was an unbelievable relief to be back on the PanAm, with the sun in our faces, speeding once again through cactus land. Any thoughts of leaving early, as soon as I got to Santiago, were gone. It was like being King of the Road!

We made it to the Cabañas in Guanaqueros, where Walter, the German owner was a little surprised to see me turn up in the third car of the trip. ‘Are these rented or do you buy a new one each time that the ashtrays fill up?’

We’ve just enjoyed another great meal at the usual restaurant where this time we were the only guests. Back in the cabañas we’re enjoying a nice bottle of Missiones de Rengo Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, yum yum.

Life is good!

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