February 17, 2012

driving through the ash plume

In getting ready for our little trip to Bariloche, and at some point while packing, it vaguely and momentarily dawned on me that we would be driving right towards the volcano. In fact, we drove right through the ash plume and were only 60 miles from active volcano Puyehue in Chile. We realized how close we were when it began to get strangely hazy. As it got worse and worse, it dawned on us that it wasn't, in fact, dust being whipped into the sky by the persistent Patagonia winds, but it was ash! *gulp*

My heart bobbed right up into my throat in a moment of, "Now what stupid thing have we done?!"

It turned out to be fine, though. We just rolled up the windows and kept driving, trusting it'd all be okay, sending up some prayers, and snapping some photos for posterity's sake. Besides, this is missions, there are supposed to be things like danger and exploding volcanos and malaria and things like that, right? Otherwise, where's all the fun? I mean challenge?

heading out across the desert towards the Andean foothills

it started getting green and hilly

oh look, kids, ñandú!  [lesser Rhea/small ostrich]

Andean foothills, also known as the Patagonian Steppe [and overheated car]

stopping to hand out water for said overheated car

Oh, look, kids - guanacos! (llamas)
starting to get very ashy now


crossing one of the many resevoirs, you can really see the ash

we stopped here for a potty break - all the white stuff on the hills is ash from June's explosion
[see some FANTASTIC PHOTOS of the eruption!]
pretty :)

driving through the heart of the ash plume

visibility dropped to about 3km

At this point, we were praying that God would shift the direction of the wind and blow the ash away.

Needless to say, we were pretty amazed when that's exactly what happened.

Right as we drove into Bariloche, after six hours on the road, four of it driving through the ash plume, we saw it happen right in front of our eyes!

the sky: half clear, half ash
there was a literal line - it was WILD!

clear skies over Bariloche (there's the tail end of the ash being blown out on the right)

We were blessed with clear, ash-free skies the rest of the weekend!

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