We packed up our things and said goodbye to Torres Del Paine just in time. It was getting REALLY cold. On the agenda for today? Drive into Argentina to a town called El Calafate. We allowed plenty of time to get there, so we could enjoy the drive and actually get to our next hotel at a decent time!
As we drove out of the park and finally got reception again, Joe called the rental car company to find out if they had completed the paperwork we needed to cross the border. "It'll be ready at 1pm." Great! We figured we'd go into town and have lunch, find an internet cafe and print off the necessary forms and then be on our way! 1pm came. Nothing. 3pm. Nothing. 4pm. Nothing--and now no one would answer their phones. 6pm. Still nothing. We went to get hot chocolates and dinner and right as the food arrived, we got a call. Paperwork would be ready at 8:30pm. So much for our early start! When everything was squared away, we hopped in the car and drove to the border. Now we couldn't find the passports. Slight frustration (if you'd like to call it that) took over. We said another prayer. We pulled over to the side of the road and THANKFULLY they were in the very first bag we pulled out of the back of the car. Another blessing from above.
Joe went in to show all of our paperwork so we could cross the border. He was in there FOREVER! When we finally got to the Argentina side, we thought it would be quick. DENIED!!!! Yes, we were denied at the border. We were told we had to go back to the Chilean side and fill out more forms...and "Oh ya--we close in 12 minutes." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
It wasn't the highlight of the trip. Joe made it through their doors again at 9:57pm.
FINALLY, we entered the Provincia de Santa Cruz. We were in Argentina.
It was 10pm at night and it was supposed to take us 4-5 hours to get to El Calafate. So much for that good night sleep! The kids finally dozed off just before midnight. We couldn't see a thing except for the gravel road through our high beams. There was NOTHING but black for miles and miles...and of course the liebres (wild rabbits) who were coming out but the dozens to see what this strange, bright light was interrupting their evening. Joe and I were actually enjoying the peace. He looked at me and said how much this reminded him of driving out on the ranch back home when he was younger. Not 5 minutes later we heard an awful noise.
Now a flat tire isn't the end of the world. But a few minor details definitely made it a sticky situation for us. I opened up the glove compartment to check the manual on where and how to get the spare tire out. NO MANUAL. Nothing. It was so dark outside, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. No flashlights. We had waited sooooooo long for the paperwork for the car, that the kids had used up 90% of the battery life on our IPADS. At least we had 10% each! When we stepped out of the car, I finally understood what Patagonia winds were. Sure we had tasted them in Torres, but that was NOTHING compared to the ice that was going right through me on this adventure.
I've never been so frigid.
In all of the cars we've owned, the spare is in the "trunk." So, Joe started unloading all of our luggage. After realizing that it did us no good, we found the tire underneath the car, but had no clue how to release it. We searched everything. The tools provided in the back of the car looked like they had been through one too many changes and they wouldn't even fit together like they were supposed to. We didn't know what to do. Kate woke up in a foggy haze and looked outside at us and started sobbing. Completely confused and scared. Thus, Jake awoke. He saw Kate crying and joined right in. THANKFULLY, Luke was in a coma state and slept through the entire hullabaloo.
That really would have put me over the edge. Hard to explain the situation to a 2 year old.
I started planning in my head what we would need to do to spend the night in the car. We were the only ones on this lone road and had no cell phone reception. How long would we have to wait before another car decided to cross our path? The incessant dripping of my nose and my numb hands needed a break. "Joe, let's warm up for a minute." We got back in the car and ALAS! Said another prayer, asking Heavenly Father if he would help us figure out our situation. We both walked to the back of the car, opened up the hatch, and I looked down and saw a little hole right next to the latch. "Maybe we are supposed to stick the tools in there?" No joke. DIRECT AND IMMEDIATE ANSWER TO PRAYER. Another sign of God's love. Joe finagled the tools together and the tire started to come down. I held the IPAD up so he could see. The jack didn't work quite right, so 2 HOURS later, we were finally loading the luggage back up in the car and were on the road again.
Pulled into El Calafate at 4am.
WHAT A DAY.
We were realizing that maybe we were supposed to be learning a thing or two on this trip. Like relying on the Lord a little more! Every time we asked for His help, which was quite a bit, He was there. He doesn't magically make the setbacks disappear-- but if you ask, He'll carry you through them.