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South America by RV: Chile, Peru, and Argentina

My latest trip to South America resulted from a collision between my schedule and the timing of my friend Silvio's latest project. I flew to Santiago, Chile to travel in the RV he has spent two years building on the frame of a Mercedes truck.

Perhaps because we didn't have a firm destination in mind, we ended up waiting for a ghost in an abandoned saltpeter town in the Atacama Desert, visiting hospitable strangers in their homes on the Chilean coast, crossing into the high altitude ranges of Peru to Machu Picchu where we helped the Argentinian government search for a missing Argentine national, and finally daring the snow-choked Paso de Jama into gaucho country in Northern Argentina. We crashed country fairs, clambered through the ruins with tourists high on selfies, salvaged goods from a truck that had gone over a bridge, and negotiated for prices with village people.

On the entire trip we were conscious that the motorhome was never far away, with its shower and bathroom, water tanks and refrigerator, and cooking stove and furnace. This is not so much about the hardships of traveling as it is a report from the hidden corners of countries that are only accessible when you travel by RV.


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