Friday, 21 January 2011
When I cycled South from Santiago 2 months ago, the last thing I expected was to be cycling the 1000 odd k´s North again on the Pan Americana, back to Santiago. However, the trip was quite pleasant as it was a nice change to have Leana cycling with me again, and we took it much easier (Leana was worried about her foot injuries, which fortunately didn´t give any trouble on the bike). On the way South I´d put in some long days, mostly camping along the road. Now we moved North along the same road, turning off to towns along the way in the afternoon where we usually booked into the local accommodation. This provided a better insight into how the people live, and most of these towns are quite pretty - usually designed around a picturesque central plaza with trees, band stands, and statues of Heroes. Speaking of heroes, every town in Chile has a street named after Bernardo O´Higgins (the Liberator), Pedro Montt, Manuel Bulnes, and Arturo Pratt (amongst others). In the South there is a lot of German influence, and many of the buildings tend to be constructed from timber with shingles on roofs and external walls. In Puerto Montt we stayed in such a 3-storey leaning timber hostal, and the day before we left we were shaken by an earthquake (fortunately there was no damage, as the wooden buildings are supposed to be fairly earthquake resistant). However, further North in Middle Chile, it was sad to see the extent of the damage caused by the huge earthquake in Feb 2010. In towns such as Chillan, Linares, and Talca we had a hard time finding cheap accommodation as those places tend to be older buldings which were destroyed (reminiscent of Padang in Sumatra where we were about a year ago). However, those earthquake-stricken places are in the famed Chilean winelands, and it is quite a scenic area to cycle through. I´ve taken a liking to the cheese in Chile, and in certain places such as Loncoche and around Temuco we got stuck into some tasty cheese bought at the stalls along the road and in the local markets. Now I´m back in Santiago for the second time in about 2 months (and more than 4000 km later). Leana hasn´t been here before, so on the first day here we wandered around the city taking in the sights. Unfortunately the air is much more hazy now than it was 2 months ago, and one cannot really see the towering mountain (the snow has melted now, anyway). I also got some necessary bike spares and I spent yesterday servicing Old Saartjie. Our intention was to get back on the road tomorrow, but Leana´s computer is buggered and she handed it in for repairs, only to be collected on Monday pm! So, now we´ll hopefully leave here on Tuesday (25th), and head North-East towards the Andes and Argentina. In the mean time we´ll probably still be cruising around the city on the cheap and efficient underground metro rail. Daily distances cycled since my last report were:- Puerto Varas 20 km; Frutillar 44 km; Osorno 69 km; Los Lagos 94 km; Loncoche 86 km; Temuco 88 km; Collipulli 102 km; Los Angeles 77 km; Chillan 113 km; Linares 109 km; Talca 56 km; Curico 73 km; Rancagua 112 km; and Santiago 92 km. Total distance cycled in South America is 4 110 km. Total distance cycled on this trip since leaving Cape Town on 27 March 2007 is 70 597 km.