The bad weather continued as we headed North. This was unfortunate as the scenery was all mountains and lakes. After stopping in Osorno to fill up on supplies we found a spot right on the lake to camp. Not that we could see much of the lake because of the pouring rain.
The next morning it was still raining so we had to think of something to do in the rain. Hiking or admiring the views were out. Mind you we thought if we are going to get wet we might as well do it in warm pleasant surroundings so we headed to some Thermal baths for a good old soaking.
The seasons are changing here and you can start to see that Autumn is arriving as the trees change colour. That evening we found another lake to camp beside and the weather had improved so we could see both the lakes and the Autumnal colours in the hills.
That evening and the next morning there followed a chain of events that led to us having a fantastic Easter weekend in the hills above Pucon with some fellow overlanders. It all started when we were looking at facebook. Rene, a Chilean with a large truck similar to ours posted that he was in Pucon just a few Kms away from where we were camped. We had met Rene and his wife before in Bolivia. We had also seen them in Punta Arenas but had only waved as we were dashing to get our new tyres. We felt bad we had not stopped so sent him a message saying we hoped to meet him in Pucon the next day. He was then also contacted by a Dutch overlanding couple, Joop and Adrie who said they were also near Pucon and suggested we all meet up at 11 the next morning.
Then we were contacted by an English family who also had an Overland truck. Interestingly I had followed the build of this truck on an Overlanding forum while we were planning our own trip. They had bought a piece of land near Pucon and invited us all to comes and park up there.
So the next morning 3 trucks and their occupants met up in Pucon. After a nice lunch we all headed up into the hills to meet Jago, Lucy and their 3 children aged10, 9 and 8. They had started overlanding in South America but had had some mechanical problems and whilst waiting for the truck to be repaired had bought some land. They were now building an Eco house all from natural materials. It turned out that Joop and Adrie had turned up 3 weeks ago and had liked the place so much that they had bought the adjoining piece of land.
It only took a couple of seconds for our children to hit it off and off they went exploring and playing. They spent all weekend playing together and had great fun. Most of the time they were dressing up and the girls loved having some different costumes to wear.
The next day was a very slow one and the weather still had not improved so we still could not see the wonderful views from where we were parked. The girls though were happy playing with their new friends.
Easter Sunday saw the kids first going on an Easter Egg hunt. The weather had also cleared and we were now able to see the wonderful volcanos. Volcan Villarica had erupted only a month before and whilst we did not see a full eruption, it was still pouring out smoke while we were there.
Later in the day we decided to go for a walk up the hills to find a waterfall. First we stopped off at the neighbours farm to feed the pet wild boar. The kids could not be bothered getting changed for the walk so did it in their dressing up clothes. Quite a sight. Then it was back to camp for a treasure hunt around the property.
It was a lovely weekend with people doing something similar to us and we had lots of stories and experiences to share. We can not thank Jago, Lucy, Joop and Adrie enough for inviting us and Alisha and Lucy were very sad to leave having made such good new friends in the time we had spent there.
We needed to start heading North though as the truck was booked in for a service at the MAN garage in Santiago later in the week. As we headed North the scenery changed and we left the beautiful mountains and lakes behind to be replaced by fairly boring flat farmland and a busy main road. We just were not used to all the people and traffic.
We were planning to stop at some waterfalls, Saltos Del Laja. Unfortunately they were a big disappointment. There was not that much water in them and the area around them was dirty and fully of tacky souvenir stalls. We did not fancy staying there for the night so kept heading North eventually spending the night at a service station which was pretty noisy.
We had one last stop we wanted to make before reaching Santiago. The Colachuga Valley in Chile is a famous wine growing area and as we approached the pleasant little town of Santa Cruz we could see the vines full of grapes ready for picking. We arrived too late that afternoon to go on any wine tasting so instead looked for somewhere to stay. This was proving difficult and the only place we could find was some parking next to the rodeo stadium. We did not fancy another disturbed night and had been hoping to have a nice dinner out so did not want to drive too far out of town.
Then we decided to be a little bit cheeky. We drove to the lovely restaurant we were hoping to eat in that night. It was in a beautiful setting overlooking the vineyards. We made a reservation and then asked if we could just stay the night in their car park after our dinner. After all, that way I could enjoy a bit more wine! They did not have a problem. They just explained that they locked the gates between 2am and 9am which was not a problem for us. We had a lovely Italian meal there and a very peaceful night.
The next afternoon we went and did a bit of a wine tasting tour. The only problem is that the wineries are quite spread out and you need to drive between them. As I am the only one who can drive the truck I was the designated driver while Gilly enjoyed 2 wonderful wine tastings. I did sneak a few sips just to ensure we bought the right bottles at the end of each tour.
We also visited a third very fancy winery in the hills. It was up a long drive and had the most amazing winemaking building. They were not doing tastings when we arrived and as we had not booked we were out of luck although the I am not sure how Gilly would have managed a third tasting. Still we had a little look around and managed to buy a couple more bottles.
Heading up the motorway that evening we decided to make it as close to Santiago as possible so ended up spending the night again in a service station. The next morning we were up early and headed to the MAN garage in Santiago where we were warmly welcomed back having spent a few days there about 7 months ago.
It's time for the truck to have its annual service and a few other minor repairs. Whilst the garage will take care of this we are going to go on a little holiday to see one of the few parts of Chile we have not yet seen.