A Taste of Chile - 2002

T HE T OWN OF L OS A NDES Los Andes was also on our route and it was an interesting small town that was very busy and prosperous looking. The streets in and around the central plaza were jam- packed with people in business dress as well as more casual attire. Luis told us the little city is a center for exporting agricultural products of the area. It was hot and dry here too. Cacti grow and very little else in the uncultivated areas, except for the espina trees which is rather like mutant tumbleweeds. These trees must grow in Argentina too and figure in that wonderful Argentine poem our guide, Claudia, taught us while we were there: En el campo las espinas En el cielo las estrellas En media de mi pecho La RepublicaArgentina! After leaving Los Andes, we turned north and east up into the mountains, going up and up towards Portillo. The road which replaced the railroad travel into this town is really amazing. It contains 29 hairpin curves to the top and very tight curves indeed. The trucks were laboring both up and down, negotiating this very tough road quite carefully. There are cobertizos, avalanche sheds, along the way so it was clear that lots of snow falls on this road and complicates travel between Chile and Argentina even more during winter.

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