good times, bad times

Santiago Travel Blog

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Camping in the Andes mountains in Argentina

5 Month have past. Last i wrote from mendoza. Route 7 did eventually take us to the foot of the Andes mountains were we celebrated my birthday. I spoke to my grandmother who was happily planning my 30th birthday the year after. Soon though, i was due too go home from Santiago. We had 2 weeks to cross the Andes and then i would go home on a brief visit. First part of the trip would be finished.

The climb up through the Andes took 10 days. The west side of these gigantic mountains is barren, allowing the earth to show her stunning mosaic of colours; A 1000 shades of greens, reds and yellows, blues and purples constantly change with the rythm of the sun.

At dusk the mountains seemed to close in on us and we'd camp between towering walls of blue and purple.

Sunset over the Andes
one of these nights we listened to jean michel jarre, looking at the stars and  drinking wine.  we were celebrating the nice life and the trip but mostly i was celebrating the anticipation of all the nice years to come...

At dawn it appeared as if the mountains would move back and give us space. With daylight, we could see the long valleys below us; some slopes were covered in a light green grass others would show intricate patterns of red and yellow lines on their naked surface. However infront of us the mountains turned into a mess of purple, grey and black rocks. That was our way, up towards the peaks and towards the pass at 4100 meters.

After ages of passing between lush sunshine and shade with icy winds, all depending which direction our steep hairpin track led us, we were finally nearing the top.

Trying to capture the colours.
We had been racing the setting sun and the icy winds had taken up a large proportion of the climb. This combined with general lack of oxygen, had left us rather shaky, with blue lips and chest pains. Apparently there would be a hut up there but we didn't know whether it would be open. If not we would have to camp on a slope amongst the rugged black rocks and the howling wind.  The thought of that we mostly ignored on our way up. But there was a hut, and even better 2 guys spend the 4 month climbing season there. When they saw us they lit the fire, dusted down the iron beds and filled them with the saggiest, most comfy matresses i've ever sleept on and made hot chokolate for us. As the peaks outside disappeared into their own world of darkness and kold wind the guys lit a joint, we passed the wine around and again, we gratefully celebrated the niceness of this life and the beautifull people around us.
Finally, the descent into Chile.

And then, as if beauty is on a rationing scheme it ended. In Santiago i received an email: my grandmother was ill. Back in Denmark i found i could not leave her as it was clear this was the end of her journey. The family gathered and for a month we did everything we could to support her. The last 2 weeks we sleept on the floor in her nursing home. She was much loved and it was not a case of taking it in turns. she asked us to drink champagne with her, to bring oysters. So we did. we crowded round her, played music, lit candels, prayed, read magazines, did crosswords, drank champagne, cried a lot and  thanked her for all she'd done. May she rest in peace. She gave me a home and she was no ordinary grandmother.

And the summer went on. Daren came up to Denmark after having dropped our stuff off with helpfull relatives in New Zealand. We both worked hard and got to spend unexpected time with much loved people. But we attended three more funerals that summer. The last one being of our close old friend.

The thing is that these people will allways be with us. We'll tell their stories to others and to our selves round campfires, on mountains and on nice beaches. we'll tell their stories and continue to share their memory amongst friends so that they won't slip away. Dazzy, my Gran, Harold and Einar will for shure,  always travel with us.

Now we have picked up were we left. A month ago we flew back ou to new Zealand to pick up were we left of....


Rob-drew says:
Nice to have you back on the road again. Look foward to reading your continuing story. From your second biggest fan, with love.
Posted on: Oct 16, 2009
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Camping in the Andes mountains in …
Camping in the Andes mountains in…
Sunset over the Andes
Sunset over the Andes
Trying to capture the colours.
Trying to capture the colours.
Finally, the descent into Chile.
Finally, the descent into Chile.
photo by: Bluetraveler