Punta Arenas II

12 03 2008

I’m still here. It would be unfair to blame Stefan and Sabine for this prolonged stay. So I’ll blame the fish.

Bad, bad, yummy fish. Quit tasting so good, and I can go on and finish this thing. Only 450km of slog to go, but we just can’t seem to get moving. Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after.

Whats the rush? As soon as I hit Ushuaia I have to think, and maybe even make a decision, about what’s next.

penguin.jpgwhosthepenguin.jpgOh, and we went to see some penguins today. See look. A penguin. Magellanic Penguin, even.





HELP!

10 03 2008

SalmonI’ve managed to escape for a minute to register a call for help. The Germans are trying to kill me with food. If we don’t leave Punta Arenas soon, I’m afraid I may explode.

mariscos1kg of salmon. 0.5kg of Something else (Congrio – salt water eel – I think). A whole pot of mussels.

And Icecream.

Arrgggghhhh.





Punta Arenas

9 03 2008

3stoogesI’m not feeling lyrical today, so bear with me. Sabine just made chocolate brownies. And hot chocolate. There is a chocolate theme here. It’s cold outside. I’m happy to be doing nothing inside with a computer. Yes, I am thousands of miles from where I normally live, and sitting inside. We may even switch on the TV later. Occasionally one must. I can look around the city… tomorrow.

The last 250km was a bit of a slog. From Puerto Natales we rode east – always a good direction when the wind comes from the west. After saying goodbye to Michiel (he’s heading for warmer pastures), we continued and made good time for 100km. Then the road turned south (yes, there was a distinct corner) and we slogged out another 150km over a day and a bit. Now we are in Punta Arenas. We may stay here or a few days: see some penguins; eat some fish. That is, I’ll be eating the fish if I can get it away from the penguins.

The last section hasn’t been very interesting riding, especially when the wind comes up, and tries to bury you in the ditch on the opposite side of the road. You end up watching either the line on the side of the road, like a hawk, so you don’t crash into those drafting you on the left, or the wheel of the person in front of you, like a hawk, so they don’t crash into you. When you do look up, the pampa is, well, pampa. The same it was hours ago.

There were a few things to look at: Some of the trees were covered in a whispy growth. Some of the fences (or rather gates) provided interesting objects for photography. Some of the trees are amazing – there are no branches on the eastern side, and the tree looks as though it is continually windswept. Which it is.

In fact: to work out which way is north in Patagonia:
Find west and turn 90° to the right.
How do I find west?
Turn into the wind.
What if there is no wind?
Get out of the house.
I’m outside and there is still no wind!
Climb out of the ditch then.





Torres del Paine

5 03 2008

choc-fondue.jpgWe have just had lunch. A little more civilised than a sandwich. Chocolate Fondue. Maybe a bit rich. Actually, hideously rich: I have a headache and don’t think I can eat tonight. But I’ll try. The joys of being in a city 🙂

pampa.jpgBut back to the trip: Southern Patagonia. In general it’s flat, windy, and pretty dull around here. (And it never seems to rain. Or is that Southern California?) For those that might disagree, on the bus you miss the greatest area of Patagonia, by blasting through it. But trust me, the majority is pretty dull. Unless you happen to like flat, featureless expanses of land – like the people I’m travelling with seem to do. If you do like that, come to Australia. You can also see sheep there.

But (and this is a big but) there are some parts that are simply stunning. Unfortunately, this is also where the buses tend to stop and hordes of tourists (yes, like me) jump out and tramp around. The Carretera Austral, Fitz Roy, Perito Moreno, and further south Torres del Paine. There are other parts I’m sure, but the cyclist trail hits these highlights. A few times we’ve come out of the Andes, and onto the pampa because that’s the way the road goes (and there are not so many options when it comes to roads around here). I suspect there is not too much coming up further south, but Tierra del Fuego is supposed to be interesting. In a flat kind of way.

siesta.jpgFrom El Calafate the group – still Michiel (Holland), Stefan and Sabine (Germany) and I (stupid Australian who only speaks English) – rode west and south for a couple of days. The first day was a little windy, we were scooting along at up to 50km/h on the flat (ok, when we were racing). Fully loaded. That’s much more like it. I think on a road bike, unloaded, with fresh legs, you could keep up that speed all day. Seriously windy, and from the correct direction (behind). We felt sorry for the two French, Mitch and Virginie who were battling into the same wind to visit the glacier. We managed to make a few more kilometers than we’d planned, despite the road turning more or less into the wind at the end of the day and the lunch stop (pictured). So we made it back into Chile in only two days, despite fearing it could take longer – many cyclists skip this section of road because it is just too windy (especially going north) and there is nothing to buy along the way. Even getting water is difficult.

We spent the night in a ditch by the side of the road just outside Cerro Castillo (Chile). It was a pleasant ditch, deep enough that our tents didn’t get ripped to pieces by the wind. This is also the first and last townvillage in Chile before the Torres del Paine National Park. Most hikers stop in Puerto Natales, buy food and then get a bus to the park. We didn’t want to have to go there and then back, so we made do with the provisions we could buy. Which wasn’t much, but we’re getting used to pasta and red sauce every night. It keeps us alive. Just.

Based on the distance we’d made the last few days I thought getting to the park the next day would be no drama at all. Until we got out of the tent and were almost knocked down by the wind. Luckily, we didn’t need to ride directly into the wind (often) so we could manage an almost respectable 50km in 4 hours of riding before we were exhausted (a lot of that distance came in the last hour!). There may have been a few occasions when it was simply too windy to ride. It is a little disconcerting to feel a strong gust of wind, suddenly be in the ditch on the other side of the road and then covered in dust as a bus passes by. Most of the traffic was very understanding as we weaved our way down the dirt road, and gave us plenty of room. We stopped at Laguna Amarga – right before the entrance to the national park. We voted the water undrinkable – even after filtering there was a milky precipitate when we boiled it. God knows what chemical is in there. We got a pretty good view of the Torres from there, except with cloud. But we thought it was pretty good.

The next day we cycled even slower than the day before through the park. The cause this time was not the wind, but the mountains and the view. We took quite a few photos. We thought that we’d probably seen all we needed of the park until we arrived at the only car camp ground. While considering going a bit further, out of nowhere two Swiss cyclists that Sabine and Stefan had met on and off since Bolivia (but never ridden with) got out of a car. So, of course, we had to stay. Petra and Reto had just finished walking “the circuit”, a lap around the Torres del Paine and adjoining mountains. As cyclists they knew what we’d already seen and offered the advice that going to visit the glacier Grey and cycling the way we had just come was probably all we needed to do. So we adjusted our plans accordingly. The plans changed again though.

condor.jpgMany condor photos later, and a sunset and sunrise (I’m over sunrise photos) we said a final goodbye to “The Swiss” as they’ve been described to me. They’ve run out of money and are going home via the Galapagos Islands (possibly the most expensive thing a cycle tourist can do in South America – go figure). Now we have My Swiss (Jörg and Rahel), My Other Swiss (Brandley-Fisch) and The Swiss (Petra and Reto). And a few other The Swiss that require further explanation when brought up in conversation.

Everything is outrageously expensive in the national park (for Chile), but we had no choice – things are definitely set up for bus tourists arriving from Peurto Natales. We also hadn’t seen a Chilean bank since part way down the Carretera Austral, so supplies of Chilean Pesos were running low. We stretched the remaining lot pretty thin and just made it. Changing US$ cash was possible, but at an even more crazy price. So we stocked up on food and piles of biscuits, basically what we could get our hands on and afford. They ran out of bread. A minor disaster.

We left our bikes at the park administration, loaded all we would need for a few days, and were about to leave when a youngish park employee stopped us. It turned out he was a tourism student doing his practical experience before finishing his degree. Antonio took a look at Michiel and I stuffing all our gear into my two day packs, and ran off to get us a rucksack we could borrow. What luck! A good rucksack! It was bigger, and hence heavier (after we put more of the group gear in there), but Michiel decided that he far preferred the harness and would take the heavier pack from the second day onward. What more luck! Perfect for me! “You want to carry the heavy pack? Be my guest.”

So we hiked out of the administration area, on the long walk in (to avoid an expensive ferry shortcut). Stefan with a crazily heavy pack (cans on a hike – what was he thinking?) with no waist strap and Sabine with a similar style pack, just less crazily heavy. Michiel and I with basically a day pack each, I think I only had a bit more than 12kg for most of the trip. Pretty good.

Torres Walk inThe walk in was in almost perfect weather. We seem to be getting more than our fair share of good weather down here. Of course, I’m not complaining. Good views of the (relatively small, but dramatic) mountain range of the Torres del Paine. Apparently it is not a part of the main Andean range. Different muscles being used. We’re reasonably fit by now, so it wasn’t a big drama, and we didn’t go very far each day. The campground surprised me. I didn’t realise I would be sharing the trail with quite so many gringos. But there you are. Possibly the most popular park in the region, so of course there will be plenty of people there. I should have expected this. What I wasn’t expecting was the hotel and store at each of the big campsites. This is hiking? Come on. But it makes it easier. We even had a hot shower twice in the week. Luxury.

Softies hiding from rain… in Patagonia!We had some rain on day two, so we sheltered in the camp kitchen like softies until it had passed. And then headed up the first valley to see this Glaciar Grey. There are two main walks in the park. One is the circuit (7-9 days), the other is the ‘W trek’ (about 5 days) that visits the three main valleys, and all the highlights. We started to just visit the glacier, but decided to do an extended W after three days. The weather was pretty good, and we were enjoying the hike.

glacier-grey.jpgWe camped in a free campsite (the downside of serviced campsites is, of course, the cost). One of the few in the park – we found and used two more, later. The camp was right above the glacier. This one was far less active on the leading edge than the others had been, but we had a completely different perspective. We were about 100m above the glacier and could see all the way back to where it began. It’s strange really. I’m still a bit surprised that we spent two nights there. But it is a pretty special place, and we walked up to a lookout (the biggest pass on the circuit walk). Wrapped in cloud and blown about, we came back and watched as the sun came out from out lookout near the camp (Campamento Los Guardas if you’re interested). Yep, I like glaciers.

stevo.jpg <- “The Strange Australian Animal” glacier watching. Keep your eyes peeled folks, it might race away any century now.

The sun was shining, Sabine wasn’t whole hearted in her wishes to go back to the bikes, we’d met Marinka (Dutch) on the track who was going on… We couldn’t stop now! We had some food left (ok just pasta, some oats and chocolate biscuits), stocked up at the main store on the track, and headed on to Valle Frances. tdp-sunrise.jpgAnother glacier, hanging, with frequent avalanches to a secondary glacier below. The first few startle you a bit – it’s a big noise! On the way up we met Mitch and Virginie again. They had arrived and were hiking the same way as us, but had got slightly in front because of our obsession with the big glacier. We camped at the top of the valley (another free campsite, Campamento Británico – partially because the cash reserves were now extremely tight and partially because we thought we’d get another good sunrise from there). The sunrise was rubbish, all cloudy, but worth the risk, and the campsite was almost empty because of the extra effort required to reach here – a bonus for us. So we went back to sleep after sunrise, and didn’t manage to leave until 3 in the arvo. I’m not sure where that day went, but I wasn’t tired for a change. The rest of the day back down the valley, and one more around to the camp below the Torres. An early start to view sunrise on the main attraction of the park. We had pretty good luck (again), with nice colours on the rock for sunrise, and a completely clear sky just after (a bit annoying though – we saw the sunrise from a distance the next day, and it was cloudless, oh well). The towers are quite impressive, and well worth a walk to go and see them. However, I rather liked Fitz Roy in Argentina, for several reasons. Ahh, what am I saying, they’re all different, and all spectacular.

tpd-steve.jpgThe towers came out to play, just after sunrise! Cheeky buggers!

.who’s that?We walked out of the park, slightly smelly (ok, so we stank, but that’s not abnormal :)). Caught a bus back to our bikes. I think this may be the first bus or car since Santiago. A few weeks months at least. Jumped on, and rode less than a kilometer before realising we were actually pretty tired, camped behind the ranger station.

One more day on the bike to reach Puerto Natales and the dreamed of food and bed. There were few complaints at the time, but apparently I was riding too fast. Yeah? Well, I was tired and hungry and over cycling for a few days. So I may have jumped in front of the group and just headed for town.
Sabine: “Would you have stopped for lunch if we hadn’t?”
The Strange Australian Animal: “Nope”
Can you believe the names I’m being called?

And now we are here, only 700km to Ushuaia. Well fed, rested, and apparently not leaving until Friday. Why so long? Because Stefan and Sabine want to rest. So why don’t I leave them and go on alone? Don’t ask stupid questions. They came up with the idea for a chocolate fondue. Why would I leave people like that? And secretly I don’t mind stalling a bit longer. When I get to the end of the road I have to turn around and come up with a new target.

Now. The chocolate has worn off. Where do they keep the seafood and chicas around here…





Puerto Natales

4 03 2008

We’ve survived Torres del Paine. Now the group, Michiel, Stefan and Sabine are putting our feet up. We’ve been looking forward to good food, or at least lots of food, for about a week.

Michiel is leaving us here – heading north. For some reason he doesn’t like the sound of 700km of flat, windy, road to Ushuaia. A town who’s main distinction is that it is a long way from anywhere. I don’t know why.

More about Torres del Paine and the road from El Calafate… soon.





End of Carretera Austral

11 02 2008

With some disapointment we’ve completed the Carretera Austral. The scenery is truely amazing on almost the entire route, and is best viewed by bicycle (the point was demonstrated when talking to a German who we’ve seen a few times driving a tank – ok, it’s just a truck with a house on the back – who hadn’t noticed a few points of scenery we tried to discuss, you just move too quickly in any other vehicle). Perhaps a horse would also be pretty good.

Unfortunately I can’t find a few words to sum it up, and rather than resort to a blow by blow description of the last three weeks (which would likely send all of us too sleep, despite it being quite good at the time), perhaps refer to the last post until I can come up with something better.

We met more and more cyclists until we arrived at Villa O’Higgins. Suddenly there were hordes of them/us. And lots were dissapointed – the ferry from Villa O’Higgins (at the end of the road) across Lago O’Higgins was fully booked for several days (tip to anyone following, use www.villaohiggins.com to book your seat – they stick to the capacity of the vessel, 60 seats). So only 6 cyclists made it on this trip, although I know of another 6 who missed out.

We crossed, and decided to spend some more time sitting in the nice comfortable boat visit the O’Higgins glacier. And what a good decision that was. I’ll post a photo when the computer is slightly faster than the glacier. 60-80m high. 3km long. That’s pretty big. We hung around for a few minutes, and watched a few huge chunks fall off (or calve if you insist). Much much bigger than a house. Pretty spectacular.

The crossing to Argentina I’ve been looking forward to for weeks – it’s supposed to be devilishly difficult. We exited Chile on the lake shore, and headed uphill rather steeply for 15 or so km. We met two Dutch coming down who tried to freak us out about how difficult it was going to be, but really, they over-exagerated. We camped a few km into the climb (part riding, mostly walking). The land owner almost threw us out, but we charmed him into letting us stay. He was actually a nice guy, but he’s probably sick of cyclists (since you can only cross this way by bicycle, horse or foot).

At the top, as we entered Argentina, the dirt track disappeared completely (after we’d crossed a river without a bridge) and turned into a walking / horse track. Which started out reasonable, but degenerated and took us a few hours to do the 6km. Mostly walking, with considerable sections needing the bikes to be carried. Over many logs and obstructions. The final was a steep descent that really needed the front panniers of most bikes taken off. But impossible? Hardly. I managed without removing any panniers or bags, but then I don’t have front panniers. Still a challenge and something a bit different (but I think the crossing around the volcano in Ecuador was more fun, and far, far more scary).

Another lake crossing by boat, and a camp by the river (and some freshly caught trout in addition to the normal pasta for dinner – gracious Michel and Virginie!), and today we’re in El Chaltén, only a short distance from Fitz Roy. A more impressive massif than I expected.

The wind and weather until here has been exceptional. The rain still hasn’t dampened us significantly (a bit in Villa O’Higgins and some yesterday, but for Patagonia it’s been exceptional). Today the wind started. I expect it to get stronger, but as an indication we had a tail wind for a few kilometers today. On a rough, horizontal dirt road, no peddaling, the wind gusted to push me from 8km/h to 28km/h at one point (and often above 20km/h). A few times we’ve almost been blown over. Steve and Kev, remember the wind that blew Steve over in Tassie? The same, but all day. She’s strong.

I’d upload some photos, but we’re on a satellite connection (sloooow), and really I’d still prefer to be outside. Sorry. Perito Moreno and Torres del Paine are around the corner and my camera card is almost full! Ahh, the stress of a traveling life 🙂





Carretera Austral

3 02 2008

I don’t want to be here.

I mean, of course, in the internet café missing out on even one minute of the glorious weather and scenery of this place. So this will be brief. We are slightly stuck for a day (because we need food for the next, and final, part of the Carretera and it’s Sunday – everything is closed).

Highlights:

  • Glaciers. Huge, amazing slabs of ice. All over the place.
  • Mountains. But I’m getting used to those. What will I do back in (flat) Australia?
  • Lakes, like you wouldn’t believe. Really, I never knew water in a lake could have so many colours.
  • Rivers, with amazing blue/green water. It’s not blue, it’s not green; and it’s cold.
  • Camping every night. Lots of stars, almost the same as back home – but I can tell we’re far south, the southern cross is pretty high in the sky.
  • Washing in freezing cold streams. The Dutch I’m with seem to be crazy, they swim in water I can hardly stand in – it’s too cold!
  • No rain for almost 2 weeks! We are counting our blessings! Sun, blue skys and a little sunburn.
  • Cyclists. We were a group of 9 for a few minutes and have been a group of 6 for a few days now, and there are lots of others just in front of us. All relatively long distance cyclists.
  • The road. Ok, its a bad, corrugated, poorly laid dirt road, but it keeps the hordes of tourists away. And it’s not so bad if you slow down (to 10-15km/h).
  • Not being at work. Yep, I still realise I’m lucky to be away from ‘normal’ life. But I’m feeling more and more like not going back as the end of the continent grows close (5-6 weeks to go…). Where too next?

The main bad thing is there is only 230km to go until Villa O’Higgins – and the end of the road :(!





Carretera Austral Part 1

28 01 2008

North CarreteraNorth CarreteraNorth CarreteraI’m in Coyhaique, half way along the Carretera Austral. I’ve written an entry, but I’m not happy with it for now, and I haven’t managed to upload any photos.

So, I’m alive, tired, and continuing south. More details to come when I find another computer. That could take some time in this region. Maybe give me a week or two.





Daylight around here

16 01 2008

Someone should slap the Argentinians. They’ve instigated daylight savings. So now, on the western side of the country the sun rises about 8am, and sets – get this – at almost 10 at night. Add twilight to that, and you’re well into sleeping territory when the fire for the barbecue is being lit.

Which means catching a 9:30 ferry, 25km from the campsite, was rather ambitious. I don’t enjoy 5am starts, especially since this is (in theory) a holiday. But we made it, and began the touristy Crus de lagos from Bariloche in Argentina to Petrohué (or Puerto Montt) in Chile. A rather scenic, and rather expensive, way to cross between the two countries. I must admit it was rather scenic, and I’m not sure if the constant bombardment from the horse flies was part of the price, or at no extra charge just for the cyclists. The most used word is slipping from “wow” to something like “f&%$ing flies”. Really, I catch myself saying “wow” more than you could imagine on this trip – there is so much that is different from the normal – sitting in front of a computer – life. I hope that starts again soon – Patagonia is just there!

But we’re in Peurto Montt for a few days at least. Some gear needs repair, the bikes need cleaning. And the ferry is full for 8 days. Bugger. So I think we’ll ride around the inlet, and the short jump to Chaitén will instead be a ride. But there are two parks on the way, so it’ll be pleasant (if we end up going there). Not sure. Will sleep on it, and a bed for the first time in several weeks.





Lagos District

13 01 2008

Is living up to it’s name as a great tourist attraction. Unfortunately, the Argentinians have also heard of it and it is currently summer holidays. So I am meeting many, many cycle tourists each day – mostly Argentinians from the big cities (read: are city folk who don’t respond to a friendly wave or hello most of the time). The campsites are FULL and the roads are also relatively busy with mad Argentine drivers. I’ve also bumped into a few more long term cyclists – a Dutch family, a couple from Lithuania and two couples from Germany. Looks like the further south we head, the more cyclists are around!

After the comparative boredom of the highway south from Santiago to Victoria, the roads have been far more pleasant. I have also managed to drive myself into the ground with a desire to get south quickly. In ten days of riding I’ve travelled 1300km, with only one rest day. Not a bad effort if I do say myself. But now I am tired, really tired. The sort of tired I can only compare to after a hard lot of exams at uni. I don’t really know, but it’s probably not that far from the same tiredness as those with new children. My legs are buggered, and I can hardly stay awake. The best news is that I’ve caught up to Jorg and Rahel, and the next few days will involve several (relatively expensive) ferries – and not a whole lot of riding. So I’ll be back to my old self soon.

After Victoria the road I’d chosen headed straight at Volcano Llaima. The military control informed me that this one was, indeed, the volcano that had erupted on 1 Jan this year. So? Well, the lava had flowed far enough down the volcano to cut off the road. Ahhh. Change of plans. In a burst of usefulness, the soldier told me about a similar dirt road that went more to the west, and had (so far) been outside the lava flow, and more importantly was open to traffic. It followed the “Ruta Interlagos” a sort of ‘tourist drive’ (and wasn’t on my map). So, rather than go back the way I came, I took it. The road deteriorated. and then seemed to hit a cliff. I rarely have to walk, but this road was steep. Lock the bikes brakes on, take two steps, haul on the bike, lock the brakes on. Repeat. Was real fun at the end of the day. Someone (on horseback) told me about a lookout at the top that would suffice as a campsite, so I kept looking out for the top. After a while I noticed I could again see the volcano, only 15-20km away. I didn’t hear anything, but suddenly there was a significant cloud of smoke. Another eruption. No danger, but a pretty special occasion.

I camped within sight of the top hoping for a lava show after dark – but the clouds had better ideas and instead sent me to bed early.

I continued to follow the Ruta Interlagos for the next day, since I had no better offer, and it continued to head toward Villarrica (the right way anyway). The dirt road, lakes, views of volcanoes, trees, green farms, flowers… just kept coming. Pretty nice stretch.

In defiance of the blue skies, I performed a (successful) rain dance by washing my cycling gear – while camping, alone, at a great spot by a river. Not even any bugs – sometimes you just get lucky. The next morning, everything was wet, but I was prepared – I have a second set of clothes now. So no real drama, the rain cleared in the afternoon, and I though that might have been it. The next night I camped next to a waterfall, much higher in the mountains, as I was heading back toward Argentina. Again, nice campsite. Again rain in the morning. Except this day, the rain was more like a bucket of water had been emptied over me, more or less continuously. The whole day I only managed 80km, and a two hour ferry ride. I was cycling along the edge of the lakes, but occasionally though maybe I was in one of them. It was wet!!! Pity that my rain coat really is too old. So I got cold and wet. Remember the washed clothes? Well, the main set were wet, the spares were wet and it was still raining – not so comfortable now. But I did avoid the snow that I later found out was only a little way south. Of course snow always looks great in the mountains, and huge forests cannot survive without rain – so you take the bad and hope that the good is better. The forests and terrain around here are worth a day or two of discomfort. It’s just a pity that I kept going through the bad days – if I’d stopped I could have been reasonably comfortable in a campsite somwhere and seen the views after the weather cleared. One lives and (hopefully) learns.

So after many miles of grinding my chain away (rain does wonders to the dirt roads, and doesn’t assist in maintaining a clean bike), I arrived in San Martin, and another two days (one of more exceptional views of lakes and mountains, and dirt roads, one of wind) took me to Bariloche. From here, there are several options, but Jorg, Rahel and I narrowed it to two. Take the asphalt road in Argentina for several hundred kilometers past more lakes, but on a road that essentially looks, err… long and cut out some of the Caraterra Austral, or take a reasonably expensive ferry back into Chile and head toward Puerto Montt and the start of the Caraterra Austral. The views promise to be worth the ferry (and legs took a small part of the vote – moving without further killing the legs seems like a good idea right now).

So we’re on the edge of Patagonia. The weather has already given us a taste of what is to come. The cyclist heading north haven’t yet scared us off (100km/h wind – pah!). The scenery is just getting better. I think I’m getting to the good bit 🙂





Volcanoes

7 01 2008

Always seem to provide the most excitement. This one (Volcano Llaima) is currently errupting, so the police wouldn’t let me get near. Again helping to save me from myself. Pity though, the road I had planned to take was cut, and the only alternative is horribly steep. And dirt. But scenic. So I took it.





Warning: 600km of boredom ahead

6 01 2008

street-sign.jpgOr the sign should have said that. The main road south of Santiago is a thumping great two lane divided highway, and I’ve seen little else for four days. At least the surrounding land is irrigated, so it is green and ocasionally some trees grant some shade. But it is, in essence, dull. The great, almost flat road, makes for fast riding though; I’ve cracked just over 600km in 4 days. Ushuaia here we come!

About 100km before Victoria (the turn off as far as I was concerned), around Los Angeles – hang on, did I take a wrong turn somewhere and end up in california? – the road started to undulate more, forests appeared and it wasn’t quite so boring. I passed through Collipulli. Similar to Collie, Richard. They have a thumping great bridge across a valley, possibly the only thing of note about the town. It is a big bridge.

But, since Victoria, on the 50 odd km road to Curacautín, everything has changed. The summer flowers are blooming amongst the grasses in the fields. The smell of the grasses, is well, summery. The trees are big. The valleys are also deep, but that doesn’t matter – the views are worth the climbs. Oh, and the sky is blue. Blue like it should be, no smog anywhere.

The next part is into the lakes district, and if it is like this, it’ll be very pleasant. Past a volcano or two. Possibly the odd lake. If you are stuck in an office, hope you enjoy it 😉 I’m out here, loving it!!





Solo again

3 01 2008

After a week in Santiago, culminating in the New Years thing (with mucho fireworks), we saddled up and headed south once again. It was expected to be a little boring – mountains on one side, desert on the other, and a thumping great motorway full of cars, trucks and buses to follow. And it was exactly like this. Except the desert is actually green farms – there is a lot of irrigation here, and lots of wineries.

But it was still boring. Same ol’ for a long way. So Jörg and Rahel talked themselves into a rapid cycling day, which will see them riding about 450km south in one hit (riding a bus perhaps). The real reason we wanted to speed up a bit is summer is advancing, and Ushuaia is still a long way away. I, being a little crazy, would like to ride the whole way, and so I’m riding the boring bit. I hope to catch up to Jörg and Rahel in a week or so, when we get to the good stuff again around the Siete Lagos (7 lakes), or possibly in northern Patagonia. Depends on how speedy we are.





New Year

1 01 2008

Another day in Santiago. We woke up, began packing and realised how much we had unpacked in 6 days, and so taking another to put it all together. Tomorrow, for sure, back on the road.

So I’m killing time on the internet. Seriously killing, lots of time. For example, finding innane things on Youtube.

“Travels around and around and back again” has been replaced by Adventures of Stephen. The round and round is missleading, I’m just going south for now 😉 Also the back again seems to be in the distant future.