After our adventure at the border with Chile we had a few more days ahead of us before we would reach our destination near Santiago. We spend those days mostly driving through the Chilean desert before we climbed the long way up to El Colorado and started our vanlife at the resort parking at 2800m.
We had two attempts to rescue dogs. The first attempt wasn’t very successful with a young adult female dog but the second time it was very successful. We found two young puppies next to the highway about to cross. We took them to Santiago, and via a dog rescue station we found them a family to live with. Because it had taken a lot of time with the dogs, we spend the night at a local petrol station before climbing the mountain to El Colorado and we were welcome to return every time since.
Easy going El Colorado
We started working for the skischool as instructors, like we usually do. This time was different though, since our Spanish was still at a basic level. This was one of the challenges we had come for. Many other things are different here as well. Compared to our previous experiences, almost everything is a lot more “loose” and “relaxed”. This allowed us to park Grisu on the parking and live the full-time vanlife. Something that was considered an absolutely no-go in some northern hemisphere places.
El Colorado is a resort town, with hotels and apartments and that’s it. Most instructors live in a place called Farellones which is a few kilometres down the road and more an actual town. Although living the vanlife sounds rough, it has many advantages above renting a place. Apart from not paying the extraordinary rent prices others are expected to pay. But it’s way closers so we don’t commute, which is essential to be able to take proper care of Layla. At least two or three times a day we go down and take her for a walk if there are no lessons. This wouldn’t have been possible living elsewhere.
The winter started promising, with a big dump of snow right the first night. Our 4×4 proved itself to be very useful and effective, ploughing through the snow no problem. But apart from one other dump we’ve had very little snow since. This had definitely made the vanlife on the parking a little easier, but made the season a very poor one due to the lack of snow. We expected to live the vanlife in the snow on the parking, but it ended being in de dirt and the mud, which there’s in abundance.
The challenges of vanlife
Because of the difficulty of the road between Santiago and El Colorado we try to limit the runs we do to the city. Stocking up for 2-3 weeks on food at a time allows us to stay parked most of the time. Just every other trip for groceries we need to drive to the other side of the city, to fill our propane-bottle. So far through all the countries our USA-connection has worked perfectly, but in Argentina and Chile they use a different one. This makes is complicated to refill, because the filling station needs to have the same connector as we do.
Most days are very sunny, which charges our leisure battery through our solar panel fine, but also melts the snow like crazy. A benefit is that Layla is never cold during the day. Sometimes we have to make sure it’s not too hot for her inside. The nights are with a clear sky usually much colder, but a small electric heater makes it nice and comfortable. For power we use and extension cord from the little instructor container next to which we park. We get the water in jerrycans from the base-building, a little mission to fill our tank, but it works well!
And more challenges
Where in the past we’ve always been able to join a gym for showers, unfortunately there’s no gym up here. This is definitely one of the harder side of things. We do have our own shower, but this is an outside one, obviously not suitable for winter time. Luckily the team of instructors is amazing, and we’ve been able to have showers at various friends places.
Another challenge is doing laundry, most friends can’t help us, since they don’t have a washing machine either. We found the solution in melting snow in a cattle in the instructor container. This way we don’t use gas (which is hard to get) and we don’t our drinking water. Since the instructor containers are heated (a little bit) and ventilated to dry boots and equipment, it works for drying laundry as well.
The vanlife on the parking at 2800m altitude has many challenges, but it suits us well. Despite the challenges we even find it convenient in many ways. Whether it’s moving in a van or stationary, vanlife is awesome!