I just updated the blog yesterday, but I have just driven 160km on the worst and most beautiful ever gravel road! It follows the shores of Lago Gral Carrera1:
It is the worst ever2 because of the many ripples. Kilometers of hard gravel road that, at a distance, looks really good, but when you get closer, is full of ripples (created by the traffic). You have two options… drive really really slow. That is 10km/h or so. Or drive fast (60-70km/h) that so you fly over the ripples. The trouble is that either you reach a bend in the road and you have to decelerate, or (worse) some bigger holes or ripples comes up and the fast approach do not work. Either way… it requires quite some attention to drive on and is very tiresome. Also, it rattles loose the bolts on your bike 🙁
But! It is also the most beautiful ever road to drive on. The turquoise blue/green water. The mountains. The green/yellow color of the starting autumn. It is absolutely amazing. Every bend there is a photo opportunity, and is why I just had to post a separate post with images from today. And also because tomorrow I expect to go into Argentina; if I read the map correctly, the landscape is going to change quite a bit. Argentina is rather flat and non-green (in these parts) compared to the landscape I have just driven in in Chile.
Writing my last post, I had just dissed the ferry from Quellon (Chiloé) to Chaitén (on the mainland) because the timetable was kind of inconvenient and I thought I could drive around almost just as fast myself. Well… guess what… that did not happen 😮 Partly due to other ferries, partly due to Chile introducing gravel roads 😮 But… it was a good choice none the less, because basically from Puerto Monnt (where I updated my blog last) and downwards, the landscape just kept getting more and more beautiful and interesting1.
On the way south I have also started to meet the first other biker companions. First I met Horacio and we kind of formed a need-friendship; we were both looking for solutions to the, hm… challenging ferry timetables, and he seemed almost as challenged by the dirt roads as I felt. On the other hand, the language barrier (he knew less English than my poor Spanish) made it difficult to have a fluent conversation. But practice makes better… 🙂
Later, in Coyhaique, I had an appointment to stay with Patty and Fabian (couch surfing). They live in a small (50m2) house divided into 3 rooms. It had been raining all day and I had been looking forward to spread my things out to get them dry. The house seemed a little compact, but I thought it would be ok. Then to my surprise Fabian announced that they had also accepted 3 other guests as a last minute request. I felt a little panic for my plan to go awash. How would we manage 6 persons (4 of us wet and with motorcycle gear) in this small house? But all went really well, and we all stayed there 3 nights 🙂
At the moment, I am sharing a cabaña with 3 Spanish travelers – also on motorbikes. I met them on the way to Puerto Tranquillo (where I am now) and we went on a small sight-seeing trip together to see some marble caves. Beautiful. But this time I let the language barrier sit, and stuffed myself away with my computer and blog update. It seemed a bit more relaxing than trying to learn more Spanish right now 😮
Tomorrow I will drive towards the Argentinian border. Just before the border there is a city named Chile Chico. Perhaps I will stay there a day, perhaps I will just go into Argentina and see what the fuss is about2 😉
So… when I left you last time, I promised a photo of the active volcano. Well… it did not become a great photo – there was too much artificial light around it and no good places nearby to go with a good view and no light 🙁 But here goes:
So not much has happened since last – except for small lessons here and there. Like… sit relaxed on your bike while driving dirt road. Your bike works much better that way. But after 60km of dirt road, you will still be tired in your mind and shoulders, though. And check the ferry plan before your drive an hour to the city with the ferry. While getting to Chiloé by sailing from Pargua to Chacao was pretty easy1, leaving Chiloé from Quellón was not. The next ferry was a night ferry from 2am to 9am Saturday night – and there were no cabins. Only regurlar seats in a big passenger lounge. The probability of getting sleep in that place? Close to zero :-/
Another lesson was more a revelation of why it is so good that we do not have stray dogs in Denmark. They have plenty here in Chile, and while they were not so visible in Santiago, in the smaller towns they are more visible. First of all, they love to chase motorbikes. Don’t know why… sometimes they chase cars as well, but mostly they have a keen eye for two wheels. They can lie absolute peaceful on the sidewalk (several cars passing by), but when I pass them by, they jump up, barking and running for about 30 to 50 meters. Don’t think they would bite if they could – but sometimes you do get the feeling. Other behaviour includes territorial behaviour when in pack. Not quite fun when walking alone. And if they are not territorial they can be possesive – of you (as a tourist). One dog will “make you his friend2” and follow you while you walk. If other dogs come near (e.g. just passing them by) your “friend dog” will be aggressive towards them, but still kind and friendly towards you in hope of getting some food. Almost too friendly – like walking half a meter behind you or next to you, sniffing your legs. One dog followed me for a km and I was afraid I would be stuck on it all night – it waiting outside my tent, hoping for a snack. Luckily (for me) another camping couple did the mistake of petting it. Do. Not. Pet. A. Stray. Dog. It will think you are it’s friend. So it followed them home. Unfortunately, they camped in the same camp ground as me – so I had a (luckily brief) visit from the dog later in the evening.
Ok – so much for the negative side of things. On the bright side… I liked the Chiloé. Nice roads in a hilly country side. Not quite mountains yet – but nice and green. I really liked the national park on the Island. It had a really nice little café with a beautiful view over the lake. Walking out to the sea felt a bit like walking out to the northen sea on the Danish west coast – although a bit more harsh. Not quite so fine sand and harsher waves. One little thing that you also notice (in a lot of places) are the little evacuation signs in case of tsunamis. And in case of Villarica, in case of a volcanic outburst. It all just reminds you that nature is a bit more harsh down here than in little Denmark.
And oh yeah… I almost forgot… I incidently ran into the climbing hall in Castro (the central city of Chiloé). Turns out, though, that it was “only” a bouldering hall for kids! But who needs climbing gyms when you live in Chile!?!?!?
A quick update… again the acroyoga family comes to the rescue. After a night in some not-so-fancy-hostel (read: small animal poop on the bathroom floor) I arrived in Concepción where Mónica lent me her bed while she snugged in with her flat mate. Had a great time doing acro (of course) and got introduced to aerial silks. Definitely one of the more strength-requirering sports to do. At least when you have no technique nor patience to learn it 😉 Big thanks and warm hugs to Camila for having such great patience with my non-existing spanish, and to Noelia – just for having a great time together. I’m gonna miss you! 🙂
Yesterday I drove the 400km (by small roads) from Concepción to Villarica, where I crossed my first small bridge, and got my first inauguration into gravel-road driving. I think it went well – considering I did not get the off-road course in Santiago, but instead only read about it in a magazine. I only had 2 near-falls and one time ending in the grass next to the road 🙂 Today I woke up in Villarica; a nice little (tourist-oriented) town with an active volcano. Yes, you can see the red glow from the top of it in the night. Need to take a picture of that.
Anyway… Sun is shining, and already spent too much time in front of the computer… Take care 🙂
The time is 02:14 and I have just finished packing my stuff up in my bag and panniers and (surprise surpise) the panniers are so large that I may not need to have anything in my backpack. I’m not sure that will hold up tomorrow when I pack the last couple of things in there, but still… surprisingly large panniers 🙂 Down side is that you cannot unmount the panniers easily. But oh well…
So, the last week has been with it’s up and downs. Just to mention the downs briefly… got my wallet stolen in an un-attentive moment in the metro. Not much harm done, except two days extra of paper work. Thanks to Tómas and Mick for great help here! And then it just takes bloody ages to prepare for a motorbike trip. Lots of details that need fixing, paper work, and then buying stuff (you think) you need in a country where you barely speak the language… Think you can just go down to the local super market, find some duct tape, and be back for lunch half an hour later…? Think again. And thank good for empanadas 😮
On the bright side we have
Where will I be going tomorrow…? I actually don’t quite know… that is part of the beauty of it 😀 But south… I think the aim is Puerto Montt and Isla Grande de Chiloé within the next week… but we will see 🙂
After have been in Santiago for almost a week, I thought it was time for a small update.
Arriving in Santiago was easy. Almost too easy… In the airplane, forms regarding import restrictions are handed out to be filled out before customs. Nothing new here. There is one question asking whether you are carrying (dried) fruits and nuts…? Yes. And another question regarding baggage; they have a section defining as baggage as 1 computer, 2 telephones, 1 image recording machine, 1 image replication machine (may be same) etc. etc. They fail to mention simple things as clothing! So when the question is asked whether I carry items in addidtion the forementioned baggage, I simply write “Clothes???” and expect to talk it through in customs. Also; I have also mc clothing and a gps tracker which I don’t quite know what they will think of.
Anyway… arriving in the airport, I am quickly given a stamp in my passwort and a small note. Takes 5 seconds. No questions asked. Then I go forward to the customs, thinking perhaps I need to hand in the note there.
At customs, there is a guy collecting the forementioned import forms from passengers. Again, no questions asked. He does not even look at the forms. All my stuff is sent through an x-ray machine, and on the other side I can pick it up. There is no interest in me or my stuff. I stand there a few seconds. An official starts to take interest in the baggage of the guy coming after me, so I just take my things and move on to “the next station”.
Turns out; the next station is the arrival hall…! So now, I am standing there with the little note in my hand, that I don’t quite know what to do with, thinking “this went waaaay too easy!”, feeling almost as if I had just sneaked into the country 😮 Long story short… the note in my hand is a permission to stay in Chile for 90 days. Now I’m just wondering whether they want to see the note when I exit the country by bike, or if they don’t care there either…
First impression? Hot, noisy, and dirty air. But then you start to walk – preferably in the early morning, or late afternoons – and you find all the small places you would expect to find in a big city. Nice cafés, parks, street shops, posh shops, old and new buildings residing just next to eachother. The air in Santiago is very polluted, but the streets themselves are often fairly clean, and they do have a fondness for trees in the streets. That, I think, is really nice. Especially because when you are walking around during the day (when all the shops are open) the sun is way too hot to be in.
Not sooo many photos yet, sorry. Still, Santiago is “just another” big city. Nice parks, museums, libraries etc. But I have not really been going sight-seeing. Been spending my time walking around figuring out which motorcycle I should buy, and what paper work I need to get done in order to buy it. I did, though, run in to the local slackline community (yay) and this evening there is a meet-up with some acroyogis (yay again!). Tomorrow I will move my stuff out to Ride Chile 1 where I will stay a couple of days, learning a bit of motorcycle maintenance 🙂 Tomorrow, I will try out one of their BMW F800 GS, and then probably buy their Kawasaki KLR 650…
Ps.: Bonus info… what do you do when the elevator is out of order? Well, you take the stairs to the 23rd floor, of course 😉
Only two days left to my departure and my todo-list is almost done. It’s a good feeling 🙂 Im looking so much forward to this. Excited and a little bit scared at the same time…
Anyway… just wanted to share my packing list. A little bit for those who wonders what one brings on a half year journey, but mostly also just for self reference, sorry. This is how it looks when everything is spread out:
Not on the photo:
And this is how it looks when packed together and ready to be loaded on the bike. Of course, things missing here are the food and water I’ll need, and the motorcycle repair kit. But still… assuming that I will get a bike with side cases… plenty of space 😀
I just woke up, totally excited 😀 Today is the last day at my work before I take half a years leave. The plan is to go to South America and explore. Explore the culture, the people, the nature, and myself 🙂 Next to me, right now, is a pile of stuff that I’m planning to bring. This will be my life the next half year. Scary and exciting at the same time. Looking very much forward to the adventure – but wtf am I doing? I have done shorter motorcycle trips before, but this is a whole new level. Never really driven dirt roads before. I am far from proficient in Spanish. This is going to be fun 😀
Anyway… this is more or less a stub. It has been on my todo-list for a while to create a blog – I just could not
decide on the name. Until now. So this is just to have some text; to say I’m alive. Please return later for further
Ps.: The rough plan so far is: