Monday, December 15, 2008

Here we go again....

Yesterday, Sunday, December 14, 2008, 4:30 pm. After a wonderful weekend at our house in Azul (on-going project) Greg and I scraped off varnish drippings from our faces and arms, cleaned paint brushes and traipsed up the long path to the main road. As we drove towards Futa, back to our little rental cabin, we noticed a haze which grew steadily thicker, and by the time we reached the Espolon, the surrounding mountains were completely invisible. Since there was no reasonable expectation for a hazy day, my suspicions were that Chaiten blew again. Coming into Futa, the ash cloud held high above the town, some particles filtering down, and the swirling ground ash all of it combined to make the situation almost unbearable. The town was settled in a hot, ominous haze and the water truck continued to make mad dashes spraying the streets.

Not again. Egads, this has been just about enough.

The afternoon in town was tormenting, with temperatures in the high-80's and no way to leave windows or doors open to a breeze. Little sand piles sit in window corners where there are the usual Patagonian construction gaps. A vegetable truck from Puerto Montt criss-crossed the streets announcing their offerings and I dashed out with a t-shirt tied around my face to buy tomatoes, cherries and peaches. As dark fell, the sky clouded and dampness fell, finally I could open the windows. And as if the ash seeded the clouds, sometime during the night a very light rain fell and quashed the swirling ash.

Checking several volcanism blogs I found that Chaiten erupted a huge plum around 1:00 pm on Sunday, sending a cloud of ash southeast towards Argentina. This puts us once again in the path. Disheartening.

So, we've decided to wrap up a few loose ends (which may dangle loosely for many months to come) such as the electric hook-up to the house, and make a final check of our online Christmas present purchases, and head south again. This time however, we plan to float about with the blue ice in Laguna San Rafael. We also plan this put a small mattress in the back of the truck, a tarp, a more complete set of camp cookware, and just land wherever we land, so as to avoid paying 30,000 pesos a night ($60) for what turns out to be a $10 a night youth hostel. It's a lovely trip once you get past the part of driving on a death-wish road, and eating dust the whole way. We intend to just keep going south, maybe Puerto Natales? We want to see the ice fields and maybe find a big hardware store, buy some more materials for finishing the house. Lordy, I'm wondering if -when - we slap the last bit of paint and varnish on - it will be time to look for an Assisted Living Facility. As it is, trudging up and down to the house from the road with a wheelbarrow full of paint and varnish is making me weary. (OK, watching Greg do that is making me weary!)

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