Sunday, 21 November 2010

A TASTE OF CHILE






I was rather pleased when my jetlagged internal clock managed to set itself, and I could head out from Santiago through Chile towards the Southern tip of the continent. Once beyond the city limits I was allowed to cycle on Route 5 (the Pan American highway)which runs almost the whole length of this narrow country. For 4 days I was fortunate with the weather (although there was a constant breeze from the front), and I enjoyed the scenery of vineyards and green fields agains the backdrop of the magnificent Andes. Then El Ninjo struck again, and now I´m back in the cold and wet which I hoped had remained behind in Australia. Since Santiago I´ve been camping at the roadside, so the rain was enough of an excuse to stay over in a hostel today (do some laundry, have a shower, do this internet thing, and rest my backside). The city of Temuco where I´m resting, is quite a bustling place, and I´ve found it interesting walking around the markets and watching the people ("watch" is about all I can do right now, as I´m still trying very hard to "swallow" the English/Spanish dictionary which I bought in Santiago). Even working on the internet takes longer than usual, as the conputers speak Spanish and I have to use the dictionary quite a lot to ensure that I don´t give wrong commands! So far I´ve found that things in Chile are not dirt cheap (similar to South Africa), but it is still a hell-of-a-lot more affordable than Australia. I´m a bit concerned about the Andes and Patagonia which still lie ahead of me, so today I invested in a decent rainjacket-thingy, better safe than sorry I suppose. Distances cycled since Santiago have been:- Rengo 122 km; Talca 154 km; Chillan 149 km; Los Angeles 122 km; Lautaro 124 km; and Temuco 30 km. Total on this journey since leaving Cape Town is 67 197 km.

THE THIRD SUNSET






I thought I´d just jot down a few notes about how I got from Sydney to Santiago (obviously not by bicycle, although I did cycle 20 km from Sydney to airport, and 27 km from airport to Santiago). The rest of the way was by Areoleneas Argentina (via Auckland and Beunos Ayres). Firstly, on the cycle leg to Sydney airport I picked up the Lonely Planet guide to South America, as well as a bike box from one of the shops along the way (quite a mission, as the flattened and folded box made the bike look like some sort of flying machine anyway!). I slept at the airport that night under a sign drawing attention to "suspicious behaviour", and the next day I managed to get myself and all my stuff on the plane without too much ado. The refuelling stop in Auckland took longer than planned due to a problem with the aircraft, so I watched the sunset from the airport terminal building while waiting. Twelve hours later (after crossing the international date line) I landed in Beunos Ayres about 4 hours before taking off from Auckland! While waiting for my connecting flight I watched the sun setting for the second time that day (still Tuesday 9 November!). The flight to Santiago then raced the sun Westwards, but I was glad that the sun won the race, as I don´t think I could have handled a third sunset in one day. After taking the bike out of the box and getting everyting in order, I set off for Santiago centro about an hour before dawn (and avoided most of the morning traffic). After a few attempts I found a very nice hostel - good thing as I was so jetlagged that I stayed for 4 days instead of the intended two. I found Santiago to be a rather pleasant city, and I wandered around there collecting things I needed such as maps, groceries, and bike spares. Fortunately again, it was a Sunday when I cycled South out of the city - so the traffic was quite tolerable.

Monday, 8 November 2010

OZ: DONE AND DUSTED







I guess this is it for me in Australia. After about 6000 km in 3 months I finally arrived in Sydney yesterday afternoon. As it was Sunday the traffic was mild, but I still had to contend with one or two nasty hills (as was the case almost the whole way from Melbourne). At least it wasn't raining, as I've certainly had my share of the unseasonal cold and wet weather on this stretch. However, this part of the coast is also very scenic, with lots of (hilly) State Forests, and beautiful lakes and ocean inlets. I've met a number of long-distance cyclists along the way, and all of them had some gripe about the hills (one or 2 of them looked like scarecrows or hedgehogs, with all the stuff they tie to their helmets in order to avoid being attacked by the cheeky Magpies). Now that I've seen the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, I'll fly from Sydney tomorrow into a whole new world - I guess I'll have to brush up on my Spanish (not that I have any Spanish to brush up on). I still have to find a bike box, and then cycle to the airport where I'll "set up camp" tonight. Distances cycled on the 12 days since leaving Melbourne were:- Warragul 122 km; Sale 112 km; Lake Tyers R/A 118 km; Murrungowar P/S 67 km; Genoa Forest 93 km; Eden 81 km; Quaama R/A 84 km; Waldrons Swamp R/A 99 km; Burrill Lake 71 km; Bomaderry 78 km; Coledale 97 km; Sydney 69 km. Total distance cycled in Australia is 5 942 km. Total cycled since leaving Cape Town is 66 449 km.