Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Esquel - A Vision of Hell

Friday 2nd

¨AUTHORITIES evacuated hundreds of people from villages in southern Chile on May 2nd as a snowcapped volcano considered dormant for thousands of years erupted. The blast sent minor earthquakes rippling through the region.

The 1,200-meter (3,550-foot) Chaiten volcano belched fire and ash Thursday night, causing more than 60 small tremors in the Los Lagos region.¨

The fork in the road before Futaleufu takes on a significance today we never suspected. Had we continued North on the Carretera, we would have woken in Chaiten today - the town closest to (and taking it´s name from) the erupting volcano. The place was evacuated this morning and lies under several inches of ash. There were thankfully no fatalities.

The wind deposits ash across the whole width of Argentina from it´s western border to the Eastern coast and as far as Africa. Check out some amazing satellite images here

This is Esquel - roughly 75kms away.

I awoke to "snow", but warm snow and sleep confusion made no sense of it, until I heard the news from other campers. Walking through town reveals an apocolyptic scene, people are scarce, some wearing masks, a strange quiet has decended and footprint trails line the streets. Ghost cars drift silently by, greyed out, headlights failing to penetrate the gloom. The air is thick and cloying.

I guess a change of plan is in the air and I might be here a day or 2.....

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