We spent a couple of days in Puerto Puyehuapi, trying to stay dry and waiting for gas. We did a load of bathtub laundry that never dried and the gas never came, so it was time to go.
Our big question was “which way?” We could head north a bit and make a break for Argentina. The dull side of Patagonia. Or, we could continue on our way, the way we’ve been heading for 2.5 years. Again, this decision should have been made before we left the cabin.
We were told that roadblock on the south side of town would open at noon, so we jumped in the car and decided to go that way. We had 3/4 tank, and that would be enough to get into Coyhaique. We also have a few gallons of gas on the roof.
But, when your bus has been sitting in torrential rain for a few days, there is bound to be something wrong. Ours didn’t start, and a few replacement pieces were swapped around before Jason figured out it was the tachometer shorting out and killing the coil again. We don’t need that today.
But at this point, we’d missed the road opening. A quick check at the gas station and still no gas – though the attendant said there was some in Coyhaique. He didn’t look like he’d ever driven a car. We headed for Argentina….for about 2 miles, then we swung it around and headed south.
After an hour and a half wait at the road block, the sun came out and we had an absolutely beautiful drive. The kind of drive where you are sure you’ve made the right decision.
We breezed by the next road block with only a 30 minute wait, and the 3rd with only a 20 minute wait. Unofficially, they close the roads for 2 hours, then let cars (but not trucks) pass before closing them again.
The roads are closed in strategic spots, limiting access to towns or gas stations, but in the magic of Northern Patagonia they are all beautiful backdrops. And, we are set up for waiting. Lunch here, a game of frisbee there. The protesters don’t seem to mind, they are usually kicking around a soccer ball or grilling up an asada themselves.
But by Roadblock #4 of the day it was getting a little old. This wind had picked up and the tire burning was frankly dangerous. Thick clouds of black smoke was blowing right into the shelter the protesters had made, sending them all out into the storm. After an hour and a quarter, we were glad to pass through this one.
Since the port town of Aysen was the center of the conflicts, we planned to avoid it completely by taking a dirt back road. For some reason we were surprised that the protesters were a step ahead of us and had blocked the bridge into Coyhaique on this road too. Another hour and half wait. Meanwhile, they cooked an asada that smelled delicious.
We finally got to Coyhaique running on fumes and headed right into the center to find out the gas situation. The line circled blocks and blocks around town and ended up around the town plaza.
We learned from some guys in front of us that there was a line like this the week before. They had gotten into it at 8pm, the gas truck came at 3am, and they got gas around 4am.
So, we popped the top and got comfortable considering we had a prime spot in town (we even picked up a pizza and brought it back to the bus). Bode rode his scooter around the plaza until it got dark (around 9:30) and we settled in. Jason and I took turns staying up all night to make sure we didn’t lose our place. The locals were a bit cut-throat when given the opportunity to pass up someone in line.
Unfortunately, not much happened during the night and by morning we still had no gas.