On a recent trip to Regions X and XI in Chile I
experienced one of those "adventures" that make for
great story telling around the fire with good friends
on a winters evening. I was in Puerto Varas on my
last day before returning home to the states and had
scheduled a float trip on the Rio Petrohue through
the Tres Piedras Fly Shop. At 7:30 AM our guide
Francisco picked Jack and me up at my hotel for the
trip to the river. He and a driver arrived in a new
Mitsubishi 4x4 diesel van, pulling a trailer with a
McKenzie River style drift boat.
The trip to the put-in took about an hour, and by 9 AM
we were on the river, fishing a sink-tip line with black
seal buggers. I picked up two McCloud River strain Rainbows
in the first few minutes of the float so figured this was
going to be another great day of fishing.
Around 1 PM we pulled into a small, side bay off the
main channel and immediately saw actively rising fish
working along a weed bed finger that extended a couple
of hundred yards into the bay. Switching to my dry fly
rig I started casting a Chernobyl Ant pattern along the
outer edges of the weeds and was rewarded with a nice
Rainbow. As this was where we intended to have lunch,
Francisco beached the boat and unloaded. While he was
busy getting things set up, Jack asked if he could row
me around a bit and Francisco said yes. I managed to
pickup another nice fish before lunch was ready.
After lunch we worked along the edge of a sand spit,
casting over the weeds to cruising fish and then returned
to the boat. We continued to work the small bay and I
picked up two more very nice fish, one of which went
22 inches and around 3 lbs.
We continued the float and finally reached our takeout
point about 7 PM and this is when the "fun" started.
Francisco had arranged to have his brother bring the
van and the boat trailer. The evening prior it had
rained most of the night and as a result, the spot
chosen for the takeout had become soft. We were
greeted with the sight of the van, with its front
end buried and the trailer jack knifed behind it.
While my Spanish is not that good, I had no trouble
understanding the exchange that went on between Francisco
and his brother.
We unhitched the trailer and attempted to drive out
with the additional weight of three of us standing
on the rear bumper. All we succeeded in doing was
digging it in deeper and winding up with the van down
in the mud to the undercarriage. At this point Francisco
decided to send his brother for help.
In Chile you don't call Triple A; instead you call
"Double Ox". Fortunately the well-chastised brother
was able to locate a local peasant farmer with an ox
team, and they arrived back at the van around 8.
The farmer had thought to bring a shovel along; I
suspect this wasn't the first time he had been
called on to rescue someone.
After much head shaking and walking around, the shovel
was used to dig out around the tires and the oxen were
hitched to the rear bumper. With encouragement from
both the farmer and the rest of us, the ox strained
but the van remained stuck.
More shoveling and another attempt with the oxen
resulted in the same outcome; still stuck. By now
it was about 9, dark with a three-quarter moon
providing most of the light. Francisco decided
our best course of action would be to carry our
gear out to the road and try to hitch a ride back
to Los Trancos, about 10 km out of Puerto Varas
where his home was located and he could get his
Jeep with a winch on it. He would take us back
to the hotel and then come back to the river to
pull the van out.
We hiked about a third of a mile out to the road
which was in the middle of nowhere, and dark as
the inside of a cave. Francisco continued to
apologize and I continued to reassure him that
stuff happens and I was enjoying the adventure.
Over the next half hour we were passed by three
trucks, one pickup, and one car; none of which
even slowed down. I was beginning to think we
would be spending the entire night out there when
a white van pulled up and stopped. Francisco had
a discussion with the driver and his wife and they
agreed to give us a lift. When the driver got out
and came around to open the sliding door we discovered
that the van was full of jug wine, wine boxes, beer,
and Pisco (the Chilean equivalent of Tequila). The
couple said they owned a small market in a tiny village
out of Ensanada and were bringing supplies in.
Boxes were moved, jugs were rearranged and soon we
had seats on the cargo for the ride back to Los Trancos.
The only problem was that the fumes from the jug wine
were like what you encounter in a racking room at a
winery, and before long we were starting to feel the
effects. We kept opening the side windows to get
some air in our faces and to clear our heads.
The trip to Los Trancos took about 40 minutes and when
we arrived our savior pulled off the road in front of
a small Catholic Church and we unloaded our gear.
Before leaving, the driver came around to the side,
opened a box and presented me with a 2 liter box of
Gato Negro; a red table wine. Francisco asked if we
would be alright waiting there while he ran the 10
minutes or so it would take to reach his home. We
agreed and off he went. Jack and I were still in our
waders and boots so we took the opportunity to change.
Jack then produced some crackers left over from lunch.
I opened the box of wine and we sat on the church steps
toasting the evening with a beautiful moonlight view of
Lago Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano.
When Francisco returned with the Jeep, we loaded up and
headed into Puerto Varas. The next morning I went by the
shop to see if they had gotten the van out. Francisco
said that by the time he got back the farmer had drug
some boards down to the river, jacked up each wheel
and placed boards under them. They were then able
to drive the van out. He said he didn't let the
farmer leave until the boat was back on the trailer
and the van was on solid ground. ~ DS