22nd till 28th of September 2019.
I might be wrong.
Letting go and no planning can have some adverse effects. Speaking the language and no longer checking if what you think you read is what it actual is, can accumulate to this adverse effect.
We understood that the boat leaving Chiloé island will only leave from Quellón and read it would leave on Tuesday. Leaving the sleepy city of Dalcahue we still have two days to reach Quellón. Following HW 5 we agree that if you would only have time to bike over the 5 and would not have time to follow the coast of this island as we did last week, we would not recommend to visit Chiloé. Even having more time to see the parks at the end of the 30-40 kilometer roads to the shore would be recommended. Due to time restrains and no loop possibilities we just continue South. The main road is relatively busy. Just rolling hills and space for bikes. Little communities with their famous churches.
Lunch in Castro, the main city of Chiloé, first on a bench with the left overs of yesterday. Can’t resist the first great coffee and cake in ages. Real coffee can be such a treat!
A bit outside of town we see a few pudú, the smallest deer in the world and normally very shy. When born only 700gr. If not killed by predators or disease they can live up to 12 years.
Chonchi offers the possibility to stay with a lovely old lady. Able to use the kitchen but definitively not the same vibe as with Mirella.
It’s a mistake.
Arriving at the ferry ticket office in Quellón we discover that the ferry does not leave on Tuesday but Thursday. No martes but jueves, how could this have gone wrong? Only one per week but also one boat per week from Castro, on Sunday. What a bummer, we could have biked to one of the coastal parks, or could have taken the ferry in Castro. As the weather is not perfect and we plan to hike or bike a bit during these days we are super happy to find a small apartment overlooking the harbor for a more than reasonable price.
Our little home for 3 nights. Great supermarket and market offer the possibility to cook seafood and other lovely dishes. Days are spend staring out of the window while crocheting, working on the blog, preparing amazing food, discovering how they build boats (with polyester coating!), biking to the final point of the Pan-American and just chilling out. Not too bad to have not pre-planned. I do think that this would never have happened to Karin!
Having time to visit a shipyard, see how they steam the planks to make them flexible so they can be bent into place, chat with the people, is an eyeopener. Until mid 18th century the bulk of Chile’s ships were built at Chiloé, now there is not much left of it.
At the tip of the island we visit the spot where the Pan-American Highway starts (or ends). Why this is on an island only accessible by ferry and with a dead-end is not clear.
Our time in Quellón confirms how we have changed, what you can’t change you must accept and we enjoy ourselves, embracing the luxury we have.
Thursday morning at 6:00 we are finally able to board the ferry which brings us in a few hours to Chaitén.
Meeting New Zealander Chris, who has been working at a farm and now is discovering Chile. Hearing people speaking Dutch. When leaving the boat starting to chat with Joss, Dutch, professional photographer, travelling with her husband Arthur in a mini-van for 10 weeks around Chile. Good vibe!
Arriving at mainland with tall looming snow-capped mountains is different from the rolling, steep short hills of Chiloé. As it is only noon we are happy to jump on our bikes and discover some different scenery.
What ever you like.
Not stocking up on food as we still have for a day or two and want to get going. Our first kilomtres on the famous Carretera Austral! A biker in a flashy outfit is approaching us. Pavel is from Czech and on his first bike trip, one week in and he has decided to find an alternative for biking. One week in the saddle but too cold and to steep, bad weather forecast and being on his own made him decide to follow an other path. For him today a day without luggage but tomorrow probably hitch hiking. We offer to bike together but no connection possibilities make us lose track of each other.
Out of gas.
Beautiful ride with mild headwind takes us to El Amarillo. Running very low on cooking fuel we are concerned on how we will be able to cook when the only gasoline station appears to have run out of gas. And they will only get new gasoline in a few days. Next gas station is 150 km away or return to Chaiten (but there is no bus and no taxi). How sweet as Cathy calls around and helps us find that liter of gas needed for our cooking. We have to bike back a few kilometers and ask at the white house. From a big barrel a liter is transferred to our Primus bottle. My crochet pan holder is an appreciated thank you. Here people really help each other! As everything is fenced off we are happy to find a camping place. Being solo on the site is even better! The season has not yet started!
Kindness and helpfulness is confirmed the next day when we stop at the fishing lodge Yelcho, hoping for a real coffee. Not yet open for the season as the Chinook salmons still have to swim up to the lake. A beautiful lodge nicked in the bay of the Yelcho Lake is the fishing heaven for fly fishermen from all over the world.
Open the door.
The Argentinian manager, Rogelio, asks how he can help us and is glad to offer us a real espresso from a real espresso machine, even if they are not yet open. Being part of a team to manage the German owned lodge, being able to live a remote life but with the joy of facilitating dream holidays for the happy few. Such a special place. No decision has to be made if we can stay as the place is still closed.
Views are breath-taking, jaw dropping beautiful. Some steep climbs challenge our legs and arms but the rewards are amazing, green hills, blue lakes. Breathing the clean air, road climbing through the forest is the Patagonia we imagined.
And then we are faced with how brutal nature can be. The green trees are suddenly gone. Here we enter the area where 2 years ago a natural dam broke and released the debris of a glacier lake. A massive landslide swiped the whole area clean of all vegetation, covering everything with a layer of mud and stones over a distance of 8 km. Even destroying half of Villa Santa Lucia and taking the lives of 22 people. Talking to people you still feel the pain as this is a very small community. What a disaster, 10% of its inhabitants were killed. Road has been cleaned and restored, electricity is working but people are building new fences, are still restoring. Strange feeling. Good to stay here and contribute some money to the society.
After a few days mostly up-hill, days with rain and headwind we are happy to find a warm room in La Junta and stay in a hostal which feels more as a museum, it is also called Casa Museo. Again we are the only guests but in high season it is often fully booked.
Oeps and again a week has passed. It was a week with some planning surprises and extra rest days, with getting the first feeling of Patagonia, with cold, lots of rain and freezing hands, but rewarded with great nature.
Stay tuned as we will see our first glacier in Patagonia next week!