Panamericana roadtrip memories 4

The Panamericana road trip started in December 2011. A car trip through South America with 83 classic Volvo's. In 35 days and 16,000 kilometres, these Volvo enthusiasts drove from Buenos Aires in Argentina, via the south to Cartagena de Indias in Colombia. On our blog we will share memories of this memorable journey in the near future.

Chile is an elongated country: we’re driving from the south to the north

Team 21

Day 16: Temuco - Santiago

Team 41
We’re still blaring across the Ruta 5. We have an iPod in the car and it’s full of heavy metal. When I put it on (on the car radio) people protest: ‘this music sounds as if the car is falling apart!’ This calls for a different approach. Last week I started with a very light category: Bon Jovi, followed by the quieter Guns & Roses albums. The essential part is not to turn the volume up too high.
 
This has been working so far and today I thought it was time to take another step. I put on Iron Maiden (Seventh Son)... Hard rock that is easy to listen to, but definitely a tad harder than Bon Jovi. I didn’t consult anyone about it but no one’s complaining and it looks like my tactics are working. If things keep going like this we’ll be listening to death metal in 3 weeks. But I shouldn’t get too greedy, 2 more days of Iron Maiden and turning up the volume. After that I’ll slowly transition to Metallica.

We’re driving to Santiago. To our right we constantly have the Andes with its snow-capped mountains. The temperature rises, it’s 30 degrees Celsius by now.

Day 17: Santiago

Team 21
Chile is an elongated country: we’re driving from the south to the north. Below Santiago the landscape is mostly green and sloping, above Santiago it’s mostly dry and barren. Santiago has a turbulent past. We walked to the government building where Pinochet staged his coup and where Allende killed himself to keep Pinochet from taking him prisoner. A statue has been erected for Allende on the plaza. It’s remarkable that the Chileans have two ways of seeing this period. A youth we were talking to confirmed our impressions. Dubious despots usually give their county an enormous economic boost, that’s probably why opinions are so divided. We saw something along the same lines in Russia. Stalin was regularly praised there.

Day 18: Santiago - Caldera 

Team 41
In the Netherlands we’d just call it the A5 but here it’s called the ‘Ruta cinco el norte Pan Americana’. And today we’re back on this ‘A5’. Next stop is Caldera, 920 km farther.
It’s a highway and the shoulder is being used very efficiently: you can ride your bicycle, there are stalls with food, there are people with wheelbarrows, horse and carriage, etc... And stray dogs in all sorts and sizes: big, small, standing, lying down, backed over. I wonder if those stalls sell hot-dogs.
 
We were just stopped by the police. They just stand on the side of the road and they can stop you for absolutely no reason. We have to hit the brakes really hard to avoid hitting them. They want to see our driving licenses. We also give them our photo maps. Well, that is a great deal more interesting than a driving license! They shake our hands and wave us off with a smile.

Book Panamericana roadtrip

As a reminder of this memorable journey, the book 'Panamericana Roadtrip' has been published. The story is told with the stunning photographs from travel photographer Thijs Heslenfeld, supported by a selection of some of the many stories written by the heroes of this journey. For everyone that did not participate in this journey, it is a wonderful book to dream away with. The proceeds of this book go to the special projects of the HoPe Foundation. This organisation - founded by Walter Meekes - is involved in developing education in the remote mountain villages around the Peruvian city of Cuzco. 

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