De Mendoza à Santiago du Chili

P1000399 Nous ne quittons pas l’Argentine pour longtemps, mais, d’une part nous voulions voir l’Aconcagua – le plus haut sommet du continent sud américain, 6962 m – proche de la frontière chilienne, et d’autre part, il nous faut renouveler notre visa pour pouvoir rester plus longtemps en Argentine : le fait d’aller au Chili, nous permet d’obtenir un nouveau visa de 3 mois lorsque nous reviendrons en Argentine.

Le trajet se fera par étapes. La route est superbe.

1. USPALLATA

Durant le trajet en bus (2h30 à partir de Mendoza), nous échangeons quelques mots avec de jeunes argentins qui se rendent à Las Cuevas,  petit village dans les hautes Andes, à 10 kms de la frontière chilienne.  Ils suivent une formation  de guides de montagne. L’ un d’ eux transporte dans son sac à dos, outre le matériel de montagne nécessaire à son expédition, un grill portatif : c’est dire à quel point les argentins ne peuvent se passer de manger de la viande !!!

USPALLATA est une petite ville de 3200 habitants, située à 1700 mètres d’altitude. Les montagnes qui l’entourent ont inspiré Jean-Jacques Annaud qui y a tourné son film « Sept ans au Tibet ». Nous n’ avons bien sûr pas manqué d’ aller boire un coup au « Café Tibet » décoré avec des accessoires utilisés lors du tournage…Cependant, le village en lui-même n’ offre rien d’ extraordinaire, et nous reprenons la route dès le lendemain…

2. LOS PENITENTES

Los Penitentes est une petite station de ski bien connue des habitants de la région de Mendoza. Mais à l’ époque où nous arrivons, la plupart des bâtiments sont fermés et à l’ hôtel Refugio Aconcagua, nous sommes les seuls touristes. Les montagnes environnantes ont encore les sommets enneigés, le décor est superbe, il fait un froid de canard et il se dégage de cet endroit une atmosphère  de « bout du monde »…

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Après information, une petite randonnée est possible dans le parc de l’ Aconcagua : en montant à « Laguna Los Horcones », nous pourrons admirer de près ce majestueux sommet de l’ Aconcagua…Mais en cette basse saison, trouver un moyen de locomotion pour nous rendre dans le parc n’ est pas chose aisée…Après recherche laborieuse d’ informations, nous trouvons enfin un bus qui nous dépose à l’ entrée du parc. Hélas, le sentier qui mène à « Laguna Los Horcones » est fermé car un avalanche s’ est produite dans les parages quelques jours plus tôt…Et nous ne verrons pas l’ Aconcagua caché dans les nuages…Il fait froid…

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P1000412 Les gardes du Parc nous  indiquent qu ‘il n’ existe pas de sentier pour revenir à Los Penitentes…Nous allons donc devoir rentrer  à pied (16 kms) par la route nationale 7 : c’est la route qui mène au Chili et le trafic y est intense – bus, camions qui roulent très vite. Nous décidons de ne pas emprunter un tunnel – trop dangereux – et après quelques essais infructueux d’ auto-stop, nous le contournons avec un peu de difficulté en raison d’une avalanche qui obstrue les abords du tunnel…

Petite halte à Puente del Inca où nous visitons le Cementero Andinista (cimetière des Andinistes) où reposent des grimpeurs morts dans l’ Aconcagua…impressionnant et émouvant…

P1000411 Le pont de l’ Inca doit sa couleur orange aux eaux chaudes sulfureuses de la rivière. On peut y voir les ruines d’un ancien hôtel thermal détruit par une inondation.

De retour à Los Penitentes, nous allons dans un hôtel voisin du nôtre, l’ hôtel Ayelen, qui vend des billets permettant de se rendre à Santiago du Chili en minibus  (les bus ne s’arrêtent pas ici). Après quelques minutes de conversation avec l’ hôtelier, Armando PINI, celui-ci nous apprend que son fils, Daniel, est actuellement pour quelques mois à ANGERS, à l’ École Supérieure d’ Agriculture !…Incroyable, non ?…

Le soir, Bernard discute longuement avec Gustavo, employé à l’ hôtel. Gustavo est chilien et nous donne plein de « tuyaux » sur son pays. Il nous suggère de passer la fin d’ année à VALPARAISO : la ville y est en fête du 26 au 31 décembre…Nous nous interrogions pour savoir où passer les fêtes et l’ idée nous paraît séduisante…A creuser…

3. En route vers SANTIAGO du CHILI

Il nous faudra pas moins de 6 heures pour faire les 200 kms qui nous séparent de SANTIAGO du CHILI !!!…Et le confort du minibus laisse à désirer !…Le passage de la frontière est particulièrement long : nous restons bloqués 2 heures (ce qui, aux dires de certains passagers, n’ est pas beaucoup !…). Les chiliens et les argentins redoutent par dessus tout que ne s’ introduise dans leur pays – par l’ intermédiaire de la nourriture, et notamment des fruits – une mouche particulièrement dangereuse pour leurs cultures…L ‘introduction de toute nourriture est donc très sévèrement punie et les contrôles sont drastiques…Tous les bagages sont sortis des véhicules et contrôlés un par un…Des files d’ attente se forment pour les formalités administratives et seulement deux guichets sont ouverts…

Côté positif : cela laisse le temps d’ échanger avec les autres passagers !…Nous conversons  un long moment avec un chilien vivant en Argentine et parlant parfaitement bien le français : après avoir travaillé durant plusieurs années à PARIS – à Air Inter – il est revenu en Amérique du Sud depuis une vingtaine d’ années. Il a quatre enfants : trois sont architectes en Argentine – car nous dit-il, la vie y est plus facile qu’ au Chili – et une fille vit en France où elle vient d’obtenir un doctorat de philosophie à La Sorbonne.

Annick

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