We woke up to rain at 5:30am the day we were going to summit the volcano. At 6:30am we´d finished our breakfast and it was still raining, no actually pouring. We decided not to even bother walking into town to see if we were on and we went back to sleep. Several hours later, it was still raining. Did I mention the air temperature is just above freezing? We eat lunch, and then dinner, and it is still raining. Tomorrow we´re going to be leaving town. To say we were disappointed us an understatement, but bad weather had to affect us sometime right?
With the constant downpour we were needless to say depressed. No volcano, and no possibility to do much else. Fortunately, a guy at our hostel had a rental car, and it didn’t take much to convince him to go to the hot springs with us and a young British guy that night.
Two Americans, an Australian and a Brit set off down the dark road, in the rain, in Chile. Did I mention that our driver thought he was a Formula One driver? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this is going. Zipping through the dark country side at almost double the speed limit, all three passengers braced ourselves for whatever was to come. We flew over a blind hill to see a disabled car in the road.
Within seconds we hit a huge pot hole forcing our driver to slow down. It was clear we had a flat, but it took Danny stating to obvious several times before we pulled over. Rolling to a stop 20 feet in front of the first disabled car Danny jumped out to inspect the damage as our driver said nothing. It was flat all right, and there was no hiding the dented wheel rim. Popping open the truck we searched for the spare and the jack as a wet figure came running towards us in the dark.
Turns out he was Argentinian and let’s just say we learned a few new words in Spanish that night. Like jack, wrench, wheel rim, tire lever. They just don’t teach that vocabulary in class. Turns out his wrench was too short to get any torque on his tire nuts and our rental lacked a jack. Great combination.
Lacking a jack and a flash light, Danny (without the help of either the driver or our other passenger) changed our tire using “spanglish” by the light of a lighter. What couldn’t be communicated in Spanish or English was communicated through charades in what must have looked like the most bizarre game to anyone driving by. Our wrench didn’t fit their tires, so after assuring us that they had called for help, we continued on our way to the hot springs.
Unfortunately our driver didn’t learn his lesson even after the paved road ended. Flying down the gravel path, he seemed not to notice the rocks hitting the side of the car or the pot holes. We were sure we had missed the turn off, and said so, several times. As the road grew narrower and narrower, you’d think that even a Formula One driver would slow down, especially on the only spare, but our driver did not. We hit every bump and hole in the road for about 5 or 6 kilometers before it appeared that the road might actually end. Finally the driver agreed to turn around. Not 1000 feet after we rejoined the paved road did we see the sign for the hot springs. Nice.
The night’s torturous ride had ended, and while we couldn’t relax too much at the hot springs knowing we’d have to go back into town with Formula One, we did enjoy soaking in the water.
With rain in the forecast for the next few days, we headed to Argentina the next morning. Sometimes we get lucky and do incredible things. Sometimes we don´t.