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Chile, Peru, and Argentina
Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina
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South America by RV

Chile, Peru, and Argentina

My 2017 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.

Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina

My 2018 trip to South America was meant to be much more than just a return to the continent. Silvio had readied his RV for the three-country excursion, and more importantly, planned particularly enticing meetings with alligators and presidents.

After arriving in Buenos Aires we almost immediately crossed to Uruguay where we met José "Pepe" Mujica and enjoyed the beach. Then we drove north into Brazil where Silvio had promised tropical swamps and alligators. After hundreds of kilometres crossing rich farmland and marveling at the country's infrastructure, we came to the pantanal region. The vast swamps of the pantanal were rich with life, and although the tourist trade had slowed to a trickle, we spent our time watching for the sudden animal through the trees and listening for the prehistoric calls of birds.

Between an abortive attempt to cross the Bolivian border and an equally effective attempt at Paraguay, we photographed butterflies and coatis in the world famous Iguazú Falls area, spent time with locals and learned about police corruption and cross-border smuggling. Back in northern Argentina we went against the advice of nearly everyone, and set out to explore the poverty-stricken and forgotten provinces of Formosa and Chaco before we turned south to Cordova and Sante Fe. There we spent long days in the mountains before seeing the cousins on our way back to Buenos Aires.

Travelling by motorhome meant that we were more versatile than most tourists. We could pull over at remote vistas and extend a conversation that otherwise would be cut short. We didn't require anything other than the truck's shower and bathroom, water tanks and refrigerator, and cooking stove and furnace. This is not so much a story 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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