A little bit before dusk we reached Chaiten. The first people I noticed on the street were Eli and Gilad. I got out of the car and went with them to examine the destroyed part of town.
On 1st of May 2008 the little volcano that the local people used to consider to be an ordinary mountain had erupted. It was in the evening and the dust covered everything so quickly that it was impossible for people to leave the town with their cars – they were evacuated in the morning with the help of ships. After a while the dust that was gathered at the mountain had stemmed many of the streams. That way little water basins were formated and during a torrential rain the whole quantity of water unjammed and went in direction of the town carrying the whole dust. The river was in flood, it expanded its bed up to 200 meters and it destroyed streets and houses on its way.

As we were walking through the town the volcano still fumed over the mountains turning grey around. Part of the city appeared almost normal if we exclude the deserted houses. But the other part, where the water had passed, was destroyed. We walked on streets that were trampled down in the dust. Only the remains of the buried houses jutted out. The other houses that were situated next to the river bed were partially or completely swept. The town’s port was still functioning and about one hundred of people continue to live in there – without water and through electricity from the generators. Only they know why. Probably the few signs I saw written on the walls explained it all – I love Chaiten, “Chaiten is neither to be replaced nor to be sold”.

I spent the night at an enormous room at a luxurious hotel with a panoramic window that looked to the ocean bay. Of course it had been abandoned and its doors were wide open for everyone who wanted to get in – for free. The night was echoed with weird sounds of some birds or frogs and the sounds of the buzzing generators that were not so weird.

In the morning I took a more serious look at the town in order to take pictures. That was not possible to be done in the evening. About ten o’clock the two Israeli had gone out to wait. By the time I returned from the hotel with my rucksack they had already disappeared. There were a boy and a girl from Argentina who were waiting at their spot. However, I went to the exit of the town where there was a stop and I began to wait there. The traffic consisted mainly of local cars that were going to and fro. A drunk uncle stopped in order to explain how he was going to Puerto Cardenas but first he had to ask for gas from someone. Then he said that the gas would come the following day. The other interesting thing was a truck that was going to the town. As I was looking absent-mindedly at the truck I saw that a long piece of iron that stuck out of the truck’s carriage. I thought absent-mindedly that this thing would hit the parked pick-up. At this very moment the iron crashed at full strength into the car and flew out of the truck. It stopped and got back. A small crowd of gapers was already gathering by the pickup altogether with the police that have arrived fast. That was the same truck that had crashed into the ditch the previous evening. Obviously neither the driver nor the pick-up owner had any luck whatsoever. The latter one had his rear lights broken and his door and fore wing smashed.

Late in the afternoon a car with an Argentinian family drove me until Puerto Cardenas where Max and Coby were waiting at the stop. The last time I had seen them was at Cochrane. They were waiting at the opposite direction and soon they were picked up. I myself decided to sleep under the shelter and see if the weather would not be better on the following day. The village, if it could be called a village at all, consisted of a few houses. Anyway, I could buy bread at one of them. In general all over the Carretera Austral the bread is made on spot – nobody bothers to deliver it by trucks. There are usually panaderias at the little towns or the bread is being naked at the supermarkets. At the more little villages you can buy bread from some house that serves as panaderia. In such cases there is no bread at the supermarkets.

The weather really was better in the morning. It was better to such an extent that at least it didn’t rain… continuously. (I can’t help myself not to explain how difficult it is when you feel like going to the bathroom and it is raining all the time). I’ve been hitch-hiking and since no one would stop I decided at least to have a walk and take some pictures on my way. In five kilometers when the rain had grown unpleasantly stronger a pick-up driver felt sorry for me and I continued my journey through the rain forest on the other side of the window. We passed by Santa Lucia where it was seething with hitch-hikers. We stopped for a short-break on the other side of the lake Yelcho. Then we went on until Futaleufu. It was amazing how fast the landscape change as we moved in the direction from east to the west. Only 50-60 kilometers were enough to replace the rain forest with rarer lenga forest and the mountains became barer. There was strong wind blowing at Futaleufu and clouds were coming – it looked like rain.

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