October 2023

Early October we left Santiago and drove on to Rancagua a city south of Santiago. Kilian had ordered new tires online and here was the garage that would exchange our tires. After so many days in an apartment in a big city, we -and of course Binkie- longed for a quiet place in nature. We found one with a nice view of laguna de Acuelo in a green mountainous area. We camped here one day and then realised we had a problem: our solar panel was broken. We had replaced this one, that is fixed on the roof, less than a year ago in Ecuador, so we were slightly irritated. Our first solar panel had lasted six years, this one not even a year! And then my tablet, which wasn’t working great either, developed more problems as well. Now the camera didn’t work anymore. Since we do everything digital this was another problem.

In Chile you can order practically everything online, but you almost always need a RUT for this, a Chilean ID. Of course we don’t have one. After trying for 2 days of ordering without a RUT, we gave up and contacted Matias from the campsite in Santiago where we had also celebrated Independence Day in September. He was happy to help us but this meant driving back to the city we had only just left. Anyway we spend another few days on the campsite while ordering and receiving our goods. There were a few other things we needed as well, and now we were at it we ordered those too. Including a GPS tracker for Binkie in case he got lost. He never got to wear it…

We spend a day at the coast and then drove inland going South, finally. Or so we thought. We found a really nice place near Rio Rapel. This place had everything we wanted and needed. Beautiful, quiet, lots of space, cellphone reception for internet and a clear river, useful for cleaning and washing. We arrived on a Friday, intending to stay a few days.

But on Saturday, early evening Binkie got sick and on Sunday we left for San Antonio, a bigger city with an emergency vet hospital. On Tuesday we drove to Santiago for the third time. While Binkie was in hospital we camped on the street in the city, only a minute away from the hospital. This was in the Maipu area of Santiago. A suburb with nothing but houses. So nothing to do for us except sit in the van and worry about Binkie and visiting him once a day. And if things weren’t bad enough yet; we both got the stomach flue, the aggressive 24 hour kind. First I was sick and a day and a half later Kilian. We don’t have a toilet, only a foldable bucket…. This was truly a week from hell which ended with Binkie dying. The first day we had his little body with us but then we had to place him in the freezer of the vet hospital. We donated some of his things and food to Amor animal Maipu, a charity run by the receptionist of the clinic who had gone home to get her cat to donate blood for Binkie. The vet hospital also kindly arranged everything with the crematorium for us. On the 24th we drove to La Robleria, an animal crematorium where Binkie was individually cremated. The owner, Francisca, spoke English and explained to us that we would have to wait a few days for the urn and that she could have it send to us. We explained we would wait in the area, near a river or something since we now had a lot of laundry (2 violently sick adults and one sick cat) and then we would be back to pick up Binkie’s urn. Francisca then offered we could stay at her house with her family! This was so kind and we gratefully accepted! Francisca, Matias, their three children and lots of pets, live in a beautiful house outside of the city. They told us to feel at home and to feel free to use what we needed. That included the washing machine and the shower. We had intended on showering while staying at Rio Rapel but this didn’t happen and we didn’t want to use our outdoor shower on a busy street in the city. It was really nice being clean again and being able to clean the inside of the van. When your house is really small its even worse when its dirty. They also invited us for dinner. Their company was great, just what we needed and a distraction from our grieve. We had intended on leaving the next day after the urn was ready but they asked us to stay and join in with the family dinner to celebrate Mateo’s birthday. We did and Kilian went out on his bike to buy a few small presents. The evening was really nice and we will never forget this lovely and kind family who were there for us when we needed it!

On the 26th of October we drove off, once again south, hoping we wouldn’t have to come back to Santiago a fourth time. But it was horrible driving off without Binkie. We both felt we had betrayed him, left him behind. Even though his urn was with us, safely tucked away in a deep drawer. The first camp spot without Binkie was also a very sad affair and really brought it home to us how much had now changed. He wasn’t lying on the bed anymore while driving. He wasn’t eagerly waiting to be let out of the van when we arrived. Kilian didn’t have to put op his line, I didn’t get to put on his little harness, while giving him a little kiss on his head before opening the door (that was one of our little rituals). It didn’t matter anymore how exactly and where we parked the van as there was no Binkie to make use of any bushes or trees. There are no more “walkies” and we don’t have to be on the look out for dogs anymore. No more happy little guy running towards us… No more “mew mew” for treats. The first week or so we still made his little bed on the drivers seat and left space for him on our folded bed while driving. We have stopped doing this now. We have packed away most of his things out of sight, except his cuddly toy and blanket. We have repurposed his litter box and try to ignore his backpack which is too big to put away out of sight. Anyway we made it to Puerto Varras, a mountainous area with lots of lakes and a few volcanoes. It looks like the Alps or Scandinavia with lots of wooden houses. All very nice really and under other circumstances we would have enjoyed it. We ended October by visiting national park Vincent Perez near Petrohue and walking partly up the volcano Osoro.

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