To South America and Back

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dedos (hitch-hike)

I know what you´re thinking with that title, as there has been some concern for our modes of travel. I can hear Buzz Wickman´s stearn warning echoing in my head "You know, that is my only daughter that you´re traveling with, you better take good care of her."

Also there has been some e-mail concerns as to the advancement and degredation of the South American country that we are traveling in.

Well, both of these dangerous notions should be cast aside, as they couldn´t be more wrong. Maybe it´s the has to the be the know the ones with the gritty sandy images of South America, the rough burlap ponchos, thick dark mustachioed men spitting tobacco through the gap in their teeth and then-knives brightly flashing in the moonlight-stealing away with a few American tourists tied up neatly in the back of an old pick-up truck.
I´m here to say that the only think true about the above paragraph is the old pick-up truck, cause those are everywhere.

We had done a few little hitch hiking excursions before deciding to leave Chilé via this mode of transport. One time in Mendoza when trying to make it back to our hostel before our rental bicycles could not be returned, and once when walking next to a highway near Coyhaique when we could no longer stand the big trucks whizzing past. Easy ten and fifteen minute rides. One with a kindly old gentleman, and one in the back with two teenagers driving.

We figured with such good luck (we stuck our dedos up at the first passing vehicles and were picked up) why not try it from Futalefu, Chilé right over the frontera (border) and into Argentina? Various sources had told us that the road to the border was anywhere from 5 to 8k...not really that bad when you think about it...we justified to each other, so if worse comes to worst, we can just walk to the border, and get a ride from there.

It was 10k, and we walked the whole way, because no one picked us up.
The hot sun did not relent it´s beating down on us either. At one point a truck stopped, it was going our way, and it had stopped about 50 meters from us. We couldn´t see the driver from the glare on the windshield, assuming he was deciding whether or not to pick us up.

In a cloud of dust he roared past, not slowing, or even looking in our direction. We were furious, hopping around the road shouting obscenities and waving at him. "Damn you, Damn you red truck" our traveling partner Falco kept saying over and over, unbelieving. "I can´t believe the red truck," he kept saying as we pushed onward. Closer. The heat starting to take over Aimee´s mind as she almost sprinted the last 3k, "come on you two!" she was barking out orders left and right "we´ve got to get there quick, and hope they have some cold beer, or something."

We got to the border and they laughed at us, I´m assuming because we came walking up.

It was only when I saw the red stamp that one of the guards slammed on my passport that it hit me, I turned to Aimee..."hey-babe by the way, Happy Valentines Day," I said placing a gentle kiss on her forehead. She rolled her eyes and pushed her passport closer to the next administrator. I think she actually muttered "my best valentines ever" under her breath.

Then it was time for the waiting...and we waited, and waited, slept a little on the grass, played with the guard dogs, and waited some more.

"Why won´t anyone take us....I really hate Chilé" was about all that Aimee could muster as she curled up in the shade. Our rations of avacado, peach, empanadas, and bread long gone when, earlier, the border guards informed us that we could not take any fresh food or fruit over the border.

Our break finally came. We had been asking everyone who had come through the border for a ride, most of them shooing us greasy mochillados (backpackers) away before we could get close enough to ask. Then a couple whom we had asked, and they said no, approached us cautiously, at the side of the guards building. "Do you es speak english?" We said indeed we did, and they told us to go down the road, around the bend, and over the bridge, where they would wait for us, as the guards had told them, and apparantly everyone else too, that it was illegal to carry people in the back of their trucks. Sweet, thanks guys.

We almost quite litterally ran to the bridge, hardly noticing the crystal clear blue waters (aren´t they all that way in Patagonia) or the anglers casting their bait into the icy depths. The couple was more than a little nervous to be transporting us, and continually asked us to duck down if we passed any guards. Like we would be able see them if we were, since we were facing backward. We heartily agreed and stuffed our bags in the back and climbed aboard.

So far, this has to be one of my favorite ways to travel, the winds were furious, and bitingly cold, but it felt good after sitting in the sun all day. This same sun was just starting to set behind the mountains, and as we moved away, it melted in with them and the edges of the peaks started turning all sorts of purples and blues, intermixed with streaks of yellow.
It was a nice way to end our little journey Chilé, looking back over where we had been. Contentadly eyeing the landscape, convinced we´d somehow conquered something, anxiously awaiting what was unseen ahead of us.


At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Chrissy said...

I actually have chills AlL over, covering my body with the necessary medicine of a GoOd traveling tale. Thank goodness for people who travel like you...!!! I remember traveling in the back of a pickup through the red red earth of Cambodia, in the middle of the night, the stars perfect in the sky, bread passed around for dinner, waking up covered in red from the is truLy the magic of life!

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Chrissy said...

By the way, what do you think about a co-authoured book of traveling stories? Our very own??? I think we have something here........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Chrissy said...

(and I have NEVER been more serious about something!!!!!!!!!!) En serio my friends! Let's make it a lifetime adventure!!!!!!!!!!!! And there is NO sense in keeping this to ourselves!!!!!!!

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Chrissy said...

Oh, and by the way, you guys are the BeST!!!!!!!!!!! Simply and truly, I love you OOH so much!!!!!!!!!!!! mwa!!!!!!!
(best valentine's story EVER by the way! oh, it tickles me so!!! ;))
From your biggest fan,
Darshie :))))))) xoxoxoxoxoxo

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Falco the german hitchhikingmade said...

well jeremy and aimee
i just have to say one thing!!


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