Yes, for the second time this trip I’ve made a dash for Santiago Airport to drop one of my travel companions off. It’s a 200 km trip, all on Ruta 5, the PanAmerican Highway, except the last 8km where in the past I got lost, following SatNav’s insistence on using Exit 16 but this time held my nerve and stuck on Vespucci until Exit 18 which, reassuringly, is signposted to the Airport.
We first took ‘Big Red’ the marvellous 3 litre 4×4 Toyota Hilux back to Europcar. It had served its purpose, to get JYC back to the Airport marvellously. We were allowed to keep our luggage in, until I had a replacement car from Alamo. Yes, I know, but I have paid for it, so was quite happy to take receipt of another Nissan XTrail, this time a white one. I have to say that for long journeys, they are more comfortable than a Hilux, which is a work horse, designed to get you almost anywhere.
After a call to head office, the car was provided with a minimum of fuss – just as well, as I was ready for an argument if that had been needed.
We quickly moved the luggage from Big Red to Nessy II, or should I give it a different name to avoid ‘Nessy’s Curse? Any suggestions welcome.
Brendan had mentioned that there had been massive traffic jams on R5 ‘South of Los Villos’, which covers a multitude of sins. It seems that our luck has not yet run out! After Lay Lay (Sounds like a Bob Dylan song!), around km 77, they are indeed blasting the hills to bits to widen R5 through here. When Brendan got back to the Airport, on Friday or Saturday, he got stuck in a 4 hour jam. Having thought that this was a false alarm, we came across the road work signs, but also saw a sign saying that the road would be closed from 12:00 to 14:00 for blasting. We passed through at 11:55!
When I came past there again on the way back, around 15:00, my side flowed freely, but there was a 3 km jam going the other way, now moving – presumably the left overs from the closure that we had narrowly avoided.
By 17:00 I was back at Pichidangui, in time to write this missive and have a rest before dinner. I’m in the same room as last night, a bit eery without my companion for the last 18 nights.
Tomorrow I’m off again to Guanaqueros, nice and cheap in the Cabañas and more excellent food, plus scope for more cactus related day trips than Pichidangui. I might take a more detailed look in Fray Jorge too.
No Stops made or cacti photographed today.