Tag Archives: beach

Chilly chilling in Chile

This weeks route

This weeks route

We started out from Antofagasta 11 days ago refreshed and relaxed after our great visit with Shauna and Julian.

Thanks again guys!!!!

Thanks again guys!!!!

Checking out The Arch north of Antofagasta

Checking out The Arch north of Antofagasta

We kept heading south and found a good place to stop for the night at Pan de Azúcar National Park right on the ocean.

Checking out some bizzare artwork in the desert

Checking out some bizzare/cool artwork in the desert

In Pan de Azucar (Sugar Bread) National Park

In Pan de Azucar (Sugar Bread) National Park

Our beachside camp

Our beachside campsite

Definitely not warm enough for swimming though

Definitely not warm enough for swimming though

Dry desert hills and beaches

Dry desert hills and beaches

The next morning we dropped into one of Chile’s best seaside resort towns, Bahia de Ingles, to have lunch before deciding to head to Huasco for the night.

Lunch by they beach

Lunch by they beach

The beach and blue water

The beach and blue water

On our way to Huasco Dave felt something go with the front brakes while stopping. We looked and couldn’t see anything obvious so continued. A few kilometres down the road we began hearing some scraping and then all of a sudden we didn’t have any brakes! Brake pedal to the floor with no results… We managed to slow to a stop without hitting anything and again checked everything over. We took off the front wheel and had a closer look. We saw that the left front brake was completely missing a brakepad! Not good. The brake backing plate was still there, but all of the brake lining was gone! We tidied it up as best as we could, and then with the help of a friendly neighbour, Juan, we plugged the brake line so we could at least get to a repair shop. Of course it was a Friday night as well. Juan said we would have to go back 45 mins to the larger town of Villenar to get new pads installed. We camped out in front of Juan’s place and took off the next morning and very slowly, made our way to the mechanics.

We managed to find a brake specialist garage in Villenar, but unfortunatley there we no pads to suit our van anywhere in town. Thankfully they knew what they were doing and set about making a complete new set of pads by using our old backing plates. This involved cutting and drilling new linings and riveting these to the existing backing plates. This was all done by hand – we didn’t even know this was possible. New hand made pads fabicated and installed for less that $80. Not bad at all! And best of all they work great! We decided because it took most of the day that we’d head back to the coast and to Huasco where we hadn’t managed to see much the night before.

It was a Saturday night and we thought we could park at the waterfront for the night. However we were soon accosted by many a passersby (mostly drunks) and so we returned to the safety outside of Juan’s house! This time he invited us in to meet his wife and of course partake in some Chile Pisco. They also have a crazy dog and I was trying to ask them what his name was but with my barely passable spanish I only got doggy. Guess it turns out his name is ‘Doggy’ or when he’s misbehaving, ‘Dog-ito’! We also learned that Juan’s 3 previous dogs were also called ‘Doggy’. Juan may not be the most creative sort but he was a great help, and host, to us!

In the middle of the night we woke to hear some kids walking by and then some time later we woke to a thump and the van shaking. Both of us woke up yelling to ward off the culprit who had assaulted the van and Christine even jumped up in a flash and was at the front doors. When we quieted down we looked around, listened and heard nothing. Oh well, the punks must have done a runner! It wasn’t until well into the next day that we realized what had happened was that one of the suspension springs had given way! It was the cause of the middle of the night disturbance, not hoodlums!

So the metal spring that broke was not in our plans at all. We gingerly drove back to Villenar and went to see our new friends at the brake garage to get a recommendation for this next repair. He gave us one and said that they’d be able to look at it first thing Monday morning. Being Sunday we had to try and entertain ourselves in this small little town which we found not to be so easy…

On Monday morning we got the van looked at. The mechanic dismantled the suspension system and removed the broken spring. He tack welded it back together and then indicated that we should come with him to get a suitable replacement part. We all jumped into his car, for what we thought would be a trip to the spring shop. So we were quite surprised when he pulled up outside a car salvage yard. Because we were in a small town, and the van is an ’88, they had no replacement parts, and no way to make any. Oh well – so we started hunting around for similar size suspension springs.

Christine out spring hunting

Christine out spring hunting

Amazingly we found a great match that looked in good condition and paid by weight. It was less than $5. By 5:30pm we were back on the road with a new (to us!) spring and ready to get going south. After weeks in the deserts of Peru, Boivia and Chile we were desperately in search of trees and forests!

The next 2 days were completely dedicated to driving. We even slept on the road both nights, one night next to at a police control stop and another at a highway rest stop. Great amenities here with free hot showers at most of the rest stops. We eventually made it to the start of the Chilean Lake District that we were so excited for! We stayed 3 nights in the Villarica and Pucon area, however we had lots of rain and cold and didn’t manage to do much besides trying to stay dry and catching up on emails.

Ginger back amongst the pine trees

Ginger back amongst the pine trees

Today was the first day that we actually could see some of the volcanoes that are around these parts! We’ve come a bit further south again, and are checking out some more of the lakes district before going up and over the pass into Argentina. Our last and final country!

Volcanoes over the lake

Volcanoes over the lake

All our winter gear on again!

All our winter gear on again!

And we are also counting down the days we have left with Ginger as they are numbered…

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A quick change of plans

We are on our way to South America! Well for the most part. The most part being the van in a container waiting at the shipyard for the boat that leaves on Sunday. It was just a couple of days ago we were hanging out on a beach in Costa Rica and got an email saying that there was a fellow traveler in need of a container share. For this week! We either had to make a beeline to Panama City or risk not having a container to share for a couple of weeks. It was unanimous and we packed up and made it from the town of Puerto Jimenez, on the Osa Peninsula to Panama City in just 2 days.

This weeks travels

This weeks travels

The last 2 days were pretty much non existent. They were filled with police checks, customs lineups and of course making dozens of photocopies! It was not at all difficult or taxing on the brain but there was a ton of waiting and driving to different offices, and of course sweating in the sun and waiting.

Waiting for the police vehicle inspection

Waiting for the police vehicle inspection

We went with an agency that assisted us with the whole process along with 3 other foreign vehicles doing the same.

Ginger packed up and ready to head to the port in Colon

Ginger packed up and ready to head to the port in Colon

We locked it up this afternoon at the port of Colon and then headed back to Panama City.

A very tight squeeze into the container

A very tight squeeze into the container

Hopefully Ginger will travel safely

Hopefully Ginger will travel safely

The girls celebrating the end of two long days preparing for the shipping

The girls celebrating the end of two long days preparing for the shipping

The next time we will see Ginger will be in Colombia at the port in Cartagena. We will fly in the next couple of days but with Carnivale happening for the next 4 days flights are busy. And we don’t have to rush there because the shipment won’t be ready to unload until Wednesday at the earliest. So we are enjoying our time without the van and will check out Panama and Cartagena as traditional backpackers.

We did have a good week before all this shipping stuff got going. We got the van back from the mechanic on Monday afternoon and were really pleased at the work that was done. So confident in the brake work that we decided to head up to Arenal Volcano. Of course the next day when we went to the National Park and hiked as close to it as possible it was all fogged in. Second volcano where we never got to see anything!

We were told that the volcano is back there

We were told that the volcano is back there

Unfortunately the volcano stopped its eruptions and nightly shows in 2010

Unfortunately the volcano stopped its eruptions and nightly shows in 2010

Walking in the forests around the volcano

Walking in the forests around the volcano

After the little hike we found some hot springs to relax in. There are a ton of different swanky hot spring spas and resorts but we hit on the Termales Los Laureles hot springs. A bit more local and much more budget friendly. We stayed here all afternoon before boondocking in the town of Fortuna.

The thermal pools in Arenal

The thermal pools in Arenal

Unfortunately the rules didn't allow for much fun...

Unfortunately the rules didn’t allow for much fun…

As we headed south again we stopped in the mountains at a trout farm that also has a stocked pond for fishing with a little camping area. It was beautiful and cool up here and very serene.

Our great campsite in the mountains

Our great campsite in the mountains

They also have a 45 minute hike through the jungle to a number of waterfalls and look outs. The night was so cool and lovely that we had to get the duvet down!

Hiking in the cloud forests

Hiking in the cloud forests

Christine in the cloud forests

Christine in the cloud forests

Dave at the falls

Dave at the falls

Ginger in the cloud forests, and at a new high of 3300m

Ginger in the cloud forests, and at a new high of 3300m

We then headed back to the beach and a town called Dominical. Here we had some great free beachside camping. It’s a big surfing beach and every morning and evening the beach and parking lot would be filled with all the local expat surfers.

Our beachside campsite in Dominical

Our beachside campsite in Dominical

Amazing sunsets from our camp

Amazing sunsets from our camp

We didn’t want to move on but were anxious to get to Corcodova National Park which is supposed to be the real gem of Costa Rica.

An airplane in the middle of the forests. Not sure how it got here, but apparently its becoming a restaurant..... very bizzare!

An airplane in the middle of the forests. Not sure how it got here, but apparently its becoming a restaurant….. very bizzare!

From all our reading about it, never did we read that reservations were required. However, when we got to the Park Office there was no availability for camping in the park until Wednesday, which was still 4 days away.

The owner of our campsite feeding the local caymans and american crocodiles

The owner of our campsite in Puerto Jiminez feeding the local caymans and American crocodiles

We debated waiting it out and exploring around the Osa Peninsula but when we got the email regarding the shipping we forgot about the whole thing. The biggest pain in the butt about this trans America trip was shipping across the Darien Gap to Colombia and we figured we better jump at this opportunity. And now we’re on our way!

 

This weeks banner - containers stacked at the Colon Port

This weeks banner – containers stacked at the Colon Port

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A quick Cancun update

A very easy driving week

We left Chichen Itza and drove towards Cancun stopping only at the prison outside Valladolid to pick up a hammock. They are all double weave, great quality and made on site by the prisoners. It can take up to a couple of months to make one huge one! But I guess they do have a bit of time…

Christine testing out the new hammock

We drove right into Cancun and onto the little spit of land/sand where all the fancy hotels are located. Parked Ginger on the street and found a public access to the beach. Beautiful! So different than the Pacific Coast with the spectacular turquoise colour here. Also different in temperature – definitely a few degrees chillier, though we aren’t complaining!

The main beach in Cancun

We checked out a couple of camping options on the highway heading south away from Cancun. The Paa Mul campsite just a little bit south of Playa del Carmen did the trick for the night. It had a nice pool and restaurant/bar but it was like we were camping in the parking lot. After a night at the bar listening to the permanent resident RV’ers try and do Karaoke we decided to look for more options. And we were so happy we did! We stumbled upon La Playa Beach Club while checking out a spot next door. Nothing fancy and bare basic amenities but it has power and water and is on the most gorgeous, pristine beach.

Ginger-Lee all set up for relaxing!

We are hunkered down here for a total of 5 or more days most likely. The longest stop in one place since we left Halifax! Dave left on Wednesday and is now back in Melbourne for his brother’s wedding and to catch up with family and friends. Christine’s sister Rita also arrived into Cancun on Wednesday for 9 days. And the latest news is that Christine’s parents will be joining the party to keep Christine company and for a bit of an escape from the Nova Scotia winter.

The beach and bar where Christine and Rita will be forced to spend the start of the week….

 

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