Monday, January 5, 2009

Carettera Austral - Villa O´Higgins to Cochrane

Following hot showers, good sleep in beds and lots of relaxing with books and tea, we set off for the beginning of our time on the Carettera Austral. We had been told of the lack of wind, which seemed to be true. We had been told of the amazing scenery along the way, which appeared to be true. And we had been told of the lack of any real road, just gravel tracks, which was also true.

Our first day went well despite some rain and hail. We managed a whopping 50kms before retiring to our roadside woodcutters hut for the night. Fortunately the woodcutter wasn´t around so we had a nice spot next to river under a mountain with a huge glacier hanging off the side. Rather nice.

The next day was New Years Eve. No time for partying just yet though, we had another ferry to catch. The road slowly became more rubbly and nobbly and we were faced with our first big pass on this route. Some pushing was involved due to a lack of chocolate and biscuits. Luckily once over the pass and down the other side, the ferry took us to Puerto Yungay. This port was barely 5 buildings big.

One wonderful lady had managed to stuff her little hut full of chocolate, bread, cakes, nuts, sweets, more chocolate and coke. After spending all our remaining cash in her hut we headed off down the beach to start our big New Year party.

Obviously after cycling hard all day we were rather tired. We decided it would be better to celebrate New Year on English time which was 9pm for us. Full of sugar and bread we were snoring and dreaming by 9.06pm.

Our sleep was disturbed all too soon when the ferry staff decided to find us just before midnight. After much shouting they left us briefly. Just enough time to set up a firework display right outside the tent which was nice of them.

With sugar come-downs we woke up and headed for Cochrane. The road again worsened. Some parts looked as though they had just planted mines in the floor, detanated them and then declared it a road. Cyclists who travel here find bruises in places they really shouldn´t be bruised and may never have children.

The scenery along here was absolutely fantastic. Mountains, lakes, waterfalls, tracks through forests, a great feeling of isolation, skunks and hoards of horseflies.

We arrived in Cochrane expecting neon lights, skyscrapers and people. Just cold beer and steak would have been good enough. We managed to arrive just after closing time though. The bank had shut, the shops had shut, the restaurants were shut and the ATM did not accept Visa. Due to the weekend this left us waiting until Monday to be able to change any money. An English couple came to the rescue and changed some US$ for us, enabling us to buy enough food for the weekend. Our hungry tummies were also pleased to find a cherry tree, a raspberry bush, a redcurrant bush and a beer tree next to our tent in the campsite. Yummy.

The weekend is now over, we have once again got Chilean cash and a pannier full of food (chocolate and biscuits). Tomorrow we leave Cochrane and make our way over some hills on reportedly horrendous roads towards Coihaique. This could take us a week so we will be in touch when we get there.

Lots of love, Ian and Gemma.

Ooh.. massive thankyou to all the family who sent us emails from Naomi´s Christmas bash - thanks for the photos - but where are this years head measurements?

1 comment:

Globalmum said...

I'm glad you got your money sorted out - man cannot live by raspberries alone!