……finally confident about returning home after two difficult weeks of coverage around the volcano……
First attempt: Santiago-Puerto Montt-Castro-Chaitén-Puerto Montt.
May 2: Puerto Montt (1016 km south of Santiago). It’s 10 p.m. at the local airport and I must reach Chaitén, a village which is in a state of alert. The Chaitén volcano, of which there are no historic records, has awoken after a 9,000- year slumber.
I drive to Pargua, cross the Chacao channel by ferry to Chiloé island, drive 81 kilometers further to Castro. In Castro I await another ferry for a 12-hour trip to Chaitén.
May 3: It’s 3 a.m. in Castro. The Kavala ferry docks with the first evacuees from Chaitén. I take pictures without light at a very slow shutter speed. The people disappear in different directions thinking that they will be able to return home soon. We still don’t know that the volcano will dictate otherwise.
The Kavala’s captain allows me to embark towards Chaitén, with space for me but not for my car. The crew offers me coffee and a blanket as we head towards Chaitén.