Travel Story: Hitchhiking Villa Cerro Castillo (Part I)
Heeeello you sexy readers! How are you? Let's hitchhike to Villa Cerro Castillo in Chile and suffer going up the mountains.
Hey, you aren't thinking that I gave up, are you? No, no! There are many more insane and fun trips to tell you. This will be a short intro, because I know I get carried away when it comes to writing the Travel Stories, somehow they become really long.
Anyway... this time you'll come with me to Villa Cerro Castillo in Chile, where we'll have some incredibly unpleasant moments going up mountains on unmarked trails to reach the base of the Cerro Castillo peak. We'll get drunk, almost lose a backpack, we'll suffer, swear and shout. But in the end it'll pay out. Enjoy!
Click any image to enlarge!
Obs.: This story is part of a bigger journey that I plan to tell you one day. Since it would be incredibly long I've decided to release parts of it, featuring the most crazy bits. It'll not follow an order of events, but I'll put it in a way that you can read as parts of a book. Hope you enjoy.
This happened when I was hitchhiking Argentina and Chile in summer 2017. Carrying only the essentials and little money for the journey. I had left Buenos Aires in early January with the main goal to reach Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the Americas. Plan was plain an simple: Work if needed, camp, hitchhike all the way, have loads of fun and let my desire guide the way.
February 2nd, 2017. After leaving Chile Chico, my friends Tânia, Melanie, Lois, Juliet and I crossed the General Carrera lake - the same one that killed Douglas Tompkins, founder of the famous equipment brand The North Face.
The trip, even though done inside a big ferry, was shaky and turbulent with the boat attacking the strong winds and waves and making that characteristic noise *Booom pshhhhh, boooom pshhhhh*. Getting out of the cabin was insane with so much wind, however inside, the seats looked like bus style armchairs. I rolled the back down and took advantage of the boat's up and down movement to sleep. Not a hard task when you are tired as hell, I must add.
For those who don't know, if you are travelling through the Andes, there are three main roads you can take to cross the massive General Carrera lake (1850 km²). You'll either be on the Ruta 7 (Carretera Austral) in Chile, this will pass by the left side of the lake. Or you'll be on Ruta 40 in Argentina, this passes by the right side, and also the argentinean side, of the lake. The third, and for me the coolest way, is crossing right in the middle, where you'll travel by ferry from Chile Chico to Puerto Ingeniero Ibañes. This trip alone takes 2-3 hours depending on the wind, you better have strong guts.
Afterward we hitchhiked from Puerto Ibañes to Cerro Castillos, not many cars passing by, but guarantee a ride if you are patient enough, it pays out. What a view, my friend!
Hitchhiking to Villa Cerro Castillo.
No cars passin by.
That day I wrote on my diary in Villa Cerro Castillo.
Once we arrived in Puerto Ibañez the girls went home in Coyhaique, it's only me and my french friends now. Luckly, hitchhiking to Cerro Castillos didn't take long, a fun ride on the back of a truck. Now we'll figure out where to sleep.
Day was beautiful and the sun could be seen amidst the clouds, it was cold, but a pleasant cold that makes you wish for a hot chocolate. A luxury I'd never see travelling without money. That day we were all broke, but some other backpakcers had told us about the beauty of the Cerro Castillo (peak).
- You'll cross the street, keep on going there's a bank where you'll cross the wire fence, don't worry, it's legal. If you keep on going you'll see the river. Free camping anywhere. - they said.
That's what we did, following their explanation step by step until we found a cozy hidden spot to place the tents on the outskirts of Villa Cerro Castillo. The next day we'd figure out what to do.
Villa Cerro Castillo
February 3rd, 2017. Waking up with your 'door' facing a great view is one of the biggest gifts life can give you, it's instant energy straight through your body, no matter how tired and hungry you are; you'll wake up and motivation will be there to boost your enthusiasm immediately, even if you have to get out of the sleeping bag to face the freezing temperature, even if you have to go figure out how to earn some money to buy food.
Morning routines included breakfast and washing myself on the river. The freezing water touching the body and face sending that shoking sensation through the spine - it was surprisingly cold to be shirtless.
Instant energy recovery.
When you don't have money you gotta think creatively, anything can turn into money if you are willing to work and try. Not being shy helps, indeed, but you'll lose your shyness once hunger struck you, I'm sure of that. Playing an instrument on crowded areas, singing, juggling, selling soul on a crossroad; those are the most common forms of earnings you'll see out there, none of them I could master though.
I had been carrying a box of power bars that I bought for a bargain in one of those big supermarkets, the main intention was to sell those bars somewhere crawded and profit a little bit from it. First I thought about trying the idea on the ferry, but they already had their own store. Secondly, I would try to sell them near the touristic center in Villa Cerro Castillo, since there were loads of backpackers around - the hungriest especimen in history are the backpackers, for sure. So, that's what I did.
Time passed fast while we where near the touristic center, we got maps for all the trekkings but informations seemed to be difficult to get, not even the 'guides' knew exactly about all the trails. I also asked on the radio if they could announce a broke backpacker looking for work; I didn't get the work, but I managed to sell two power bars to the nice lady. My business was a success and many passersby gave me money for the bars and refused to take them, as a donation to the cause, a beautiful atitude that I'll never forget.
- What do we do guys? - I asked my friends.
- I have no idea! Information is not precise, they don't know anything, it's getting late. - Louis said.
- Well... I'll try to gather money, but I think we'll go up the mountains tomorrow maybe... - I said.
We continued our conversation laying there when a the same truck that gave us a ride stopped with a bunch of backpackers on the rear box. They were all laughing and a strange girl was wearing a GoPro on her head.
- Wtf! Isidora?!? What are you doing here? - I recognized her. I had met Isidora weeks prior to that in El Chaltén, many kilometers to the south, funny how backpackers always manage to find themselves again.
- Amiiigo! Long time no see! What's up? - She asked.
- Well, I'm trying to sell some stuff, we'll go up the mountains tomorrow. - I explained.
- Hahahahaha, you are a legend dude! I'm also going to the trails tomorrow. Wanna team up? - She said.
- Absolutely, one more to the craziness, welcome to the party.... - I said.
Now our group of three turned into a crazier group of four. Isidora was a great travel friend, a unique person who left her job as an architect, a good position I must say, to travel the world. She was a cool girl, her only problem was her hyperactivity. Talking, talking, talking without stopping.
- So, we camp somewhere, right? Then, yeah, we can cook something. I'll buy some wine, absolutely, I'm buying some wine today. Then tomorrow we pack early, I know those trails, I have this map here *shows map*. You see, we go up here, then we go higher. Some say we need to be careful with altitude, it's humid, you know! - She spelled words like a machine gun.
- Ok.... so, Isi.....Isodora.... let us show you the hidden place to camp. Ok? - I said.
Just like that the day had gone when we reached the camping spot again. In the end it was actually a good idea because we'd need that extra energy to go up the Cerro Castillo (peak) trails the other day. Only if we didn't decide to buy wine.
For dinner we prepared rice, pre cooked beans, fried egges and wine, one of those cheap ones sold in boxes; divided by 4 it meant 500 ml for each one of us, enought to be happy. Loads of dialogues, planning, talking about life and wine. More talking, more wine. More talking and some tobacco appeared, why not? Until...
- Fuck it, I'll bring more wine! - Louis said.
Oh my dear life, what was meant to be a day to rest before some hard uphill trails, turned out into a 'get wasted party' - tobacco and wine until night. Needless to say I went to sleep completely dizzy, going to the 'bathroom' at night without the flashlight became an adventure of itself. I may have spent 30 minutes walking to find the way back, or was it 1 minute? Maybe more like 5? I can't remember. Finally I made my way back to the sleeping bag where I could sleep. The other day was not going to be easy.
To be continued later today...
Would you sleep on the city outskirts? Drop a lovely comment down below, I love talking to you.
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~Love ya all,
Disclaimer: The author of this post is a convict broke backpacker, who has travelled more than 10.000 km hitchhiking. Following him may cause severe problems of wanderlust and inquietud. You've been warned.