04/09/2008 01:52:37 GMT 04/08/2008 21:52:37 Local
It’s very dark now, but still raining hard, as it has for the last week or so.
The work crew left a couple of hours ago. The hoe operator, who spent his time in the cab, was dry and happy. The other three guys, who had been standing out in the pouring rain, looked like drowned rats and were the polar opposite.
The road in was magical. Every mountain sprouted countless waterfalls, the gorges boiled, the rivers roared. It was a great show until we came to this bridge.
The river here washed multitudes of trees down the mountain and plugged the opening under the bridge. Having that way blocked, the river poured up, over and around the bridge, filling the road with trees, mud and debris. By the time we got here, about 5 PM, there was already a track hoe working the bridge and about a dozen trucks and vehicles watching.
When I walked down to check the progress it looked like an all night job to me, so we backed up the road to a level spot and parked for the night. When the hoe crew left and it was clear the road was not going to open tonight, just about everybody else left too. But, in their defense, none of the other vehicles had a camper on the back like we do.
We’re on Ruta 7 (Route 7) just north of the wettest town in Chile, where they get up to 4,500mm (4.5 meters / 177.3 inches / 14.764 feet / 4.921 yards) of rain a year, so they are used to this kind of thing here. Our Chilean friend, Jorge, told me on the sat phone that Chile never closes Route 7, it’s a point of national pride. He assured me that whatever it took, they’d have this road open sooner rather than later.
With that in mind, we’ll probably wait it out for a day or two until they get the road open and then continue north along Ruta 7, Chile’s famed Carretera Austral.
We’ve got full propane, diesel and water tanks, a fully stocked fridge and pantry, and plenty of unread books and unwatched DVDs, so we’ll be warm, dry, fed, watered and entertained until then.
We’ll let you know how we get along.
[Update: we cleared the washout and bridge the next day at 3:30PM.]