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It’s the 29th and I haven’t heard anything from the visa agency. I’m leaving tomorrow and I really need some assurance from them that I will have my passport and be able to leave. Otherwise, it’s plan B, whatever the hell that is. I don’t have a plan B yet. Leave a voicemail requesting an update. Continue Reading »

The drama really starts 10 days ago. I’ve already gotten my Cambodian visa. You can get them on arrival at the Phnom Penh airport but that can be a long wait. Surprisingly, you can also get one on line. Fill out the form, upload a picture, pay by credit card, wait a few days and you get ana email with a PDF file attached that contains your visa. Probably no less secure that standing in line at the airport.

Next is the Chinese passport. I downloaded the forms from the website of the company that I’ve used many times for visas, filled them out and uploaded a picture to the website so that I didn’t have to get more passport-sized photos done at my local RiteAid.

I checked may passport for blank pages and found three of them. That should be enough. More on this later. Before I could print the forms and send everything to the visa agency, I get an email informing me that the photos do not meet the standards that the Chinese require for passport photos. The background is not pure white. It’s almost white. Okay I’ll re-shoot the photo. Continue Reading »

The last day of driving. And it’s less than 400 kms. But the route does cross the Andes and it is a border crossing. We pack the car and leave.

John hasn’t been able to confirm his plane reservation and he’s afraid that he’ll be stuck in Santiago. His fight is supposed to be just after midnight but he can’t seem to get any kind of confirmation. We need to get to the Santiago airport to see what he can do about his flght.

It’s early morning and there’s a thin overcast. Looking towards the mountains in the west, it looks like the high mountains may be lost in the clouds. That would be a shame since the route goes right by the Argentine Parc Nacional Aconcauga in which is the Cerro Aconcagua which, at nearly 7,000 meters (actually 6,962 meters which for you metrically-challenged out there is 22,841 feet) is the highest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas. We hope to see it but the overcast isn’t encouraging. Continue Reading »

 

John heads into town to sniff around. I’m stuck at the hotel trying to define a serious programming problem that a client has on a database system that I’ve been working on for some months now. It’s a hexagon cage death match between me and the program.

John comes back at about 2PM and we’re do to leave on our scheduled wine tour at 2:30P. Stop coding and start showering. Down in the lobby by 2:30. A tour bus shows up for a wine tour but it’s for a different tour. Our bus shows up about 10 minutes later. Continue Reading »

The road doesn’t change much here. It’s a high plains desert. The same scrub we’ve been driving through for a few days now. The only real difference is the amount of traffic though what few cars we do see aren’t very many. As we head farther north, there are more people and there are more vacation destinations here than farther south. And there aren’t any more roads.

The saving grace is that the road is very fast. Most of the trucks are moving far in excess of the maximum 80/90 kph speed limit. And there aren’t any police, at least none that seem to care, so we are moving tight along. Continue Reading »

We’re following Ruta 40 north, the same route that we took on our southbound leg 2 weeks ago. The good news is the road is much prettier (forested and winding) that the bulk of yesterday’s route. The bad news is that it’s very slow with vacationer traffic. The traffic is moving much slower than we are but we leap frog it when we can and trundle along with it when we can’t pass it.

We go through Bariloche again, get fuel and fight with the traffic. The road north is the same as the road south of the city, slow and congested. We follow the road north for a bit more than a hundred miles and then turn northeast to Neuquen. Continue Reading »

We’re leaving the south and heading into the flat land of the east coast of Argentina. The route today will take us up the coast more than 200 kms before we head northwest at Commandante Luis PiedraBuena towards the Andes. Flat land that becomes increasingly arid and desert like.

Boring doesn’t even comes close to describing this route. Desert, desert and more desert. This road is similar to the section of Ruta 40 that we traveled on the way south. But this is paved.

The only thing that breaks the boredom is the wildlife. There are hundred of guanacos. Solos, small groups, large groups up to maybe fifty animals. There is cattle fencing along both sides of the road but that only stops the very small newborn crias. The larger guanacos gracefully hop right over the fencing leaving the crias stranded on the other side. I assume that the herd hops back to the crias and doesn’t leave them there. Continue Reading »

The ride back from Ushuaia follows the only route available, Ruta 3, that we followed south. We’re headed for the border crossing at San Sebastion and then on to the ferry at Angostura. Back in Chile, we’ll head west and the north again to cross back into Argentina for the long, 2,000 mile run to Mendoza.

The crossing at both the Argentine and the Chilean immigration goes smoothly mostly because there’s no one there. None of the madness that we had on the way south. Continue Reading »

The road to Punta Arenas is called the Ruta del Fin del Mundo, The Road to the End of the Earth. It’s not really. That distinction goes to Ruta 3 but that’s in Argentina. This road, Ruta 9, is in Chile and it ends in Punta Arenas and no roads go father south. Ergo, the end of the earth. It’s the bottom of Patagonia. Ruta 3 ends at the bottom Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire.

There’s not much to see in Punta Arenas but it is the port that supplies the Chile/Argentine side of Antarctica so all of the scientists, explorers, tourists and naturalists go through here on the way to their cruises and duty assignments. And it’s the southern entrance to Patagonia so the climbers, trekkers, hikers and tourists go through here. I emphasize the phrase “go through here”. We do, too. Continue Reading »

We did it. We’re in Ushuaia, Argentina. There’s no more road to drive south. This truly is the end of Ruta del Fin del Mundo, the end of the Road to the End of the World.

Obi-wan

raoul_duke_fsm

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