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It crosses one of the riskiest roads in the world and transports gas from Argentina to Chile.

Cesar Fabián Panello is one of the extreme drivers. He began his career as a hazardous cargo truck driver many years ago. Today, at the age of 49, he dares to embark on the most dangerous routes in Latin America. The Chilean snails are part of his route, as is the Jamas pass, which reaches a height of 13,779 feet, which causes many drivers to lack oxygen. There is, in this step that joins Argentina with Chile, medical and nursing services to assist them.

He began his career at the age of 15 as a passenger convinced that the truck chose him from the beginning. In 2005 he was already encouraged to carry dangerous loads through the most extreme and international routes. “The Libertadores pass is one of the most dangerous passes due to the height, the curves and the weather. It has a lot of truck traffic, 1500 daily. Added to this are the cuts due to snowfall in high mountains. In those cases we must wait until it is enabled in the truck bays. One stays five to fifteen days stranded in the Andes Mountains”, comments César.

These “eternal” waits imply cooking, having special clothes, water and, above all, knowing what to do with idle time. “Unfortunately, there is not the adequate infrastructure for these cases”, the driver clarifies.

To walk these steps, in addition to the snow, they must face the risk of ice. For this reason, all trucks have to carry chains that are placed at these special times on the routes.

Another of the steps that César drives is that of Jamas, which has 367 curves and counter-curves. “The good thing about this pass -says the trucker- is that it does not have so much traffic. It is used more than anything by the people of Paraguay and Bolivia because of the area where it is”.

Being a trucker has its good and bad things for César. The bad thing, he remarks, is the distance with the family. “Although you give them purchasing power that allows them to survive and have access to education and housing, sometimes important things are lost”, he says. The good? “The rare feeling of freedom that often leads you to need to be alone”, he remarks.

In his long career he has not had major accidents. Just a head-on collision that pitted him against a Chilean colleague who couldn’t avoid him but didn’t injure either of them. “Another of the great joys is returning safe and sound after the trips. We have work schedules of 40 days for 10 days off. He sometimes takes a long time, 40 days living in the trucks ”, continues his story.

Would he change his routes? “You are used to these routes and you like it. It is what I have always done”, he emphasizes. The infrastructure is scarce in Argentina, Chile is a little better prepared. “We are very far from having stops to rest”, he concludes. And he emphasizes again, the truck chose him when he was just a teenager and it took him to see a large part of Latin America. That is where he feels free and where he loves to be. His beautiful family accompanies him from home on his tours and that is another of his great achievements.


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