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Update: Villa Mañihuales, Chile (2/20/2012)

posted Oct 19, 2012, 3:09 AM by Matthew Gorzlancyk

       RIDING WITH SWISS CHRIS

       After meeting up with Chris we had a fair amount of stories to share and planning for the road ahead to do. We were on the same page as to the route, so we decided to hit the road. The initial days heading toward Villarica were not the most beautiful, but we had tons of fun. Sleeping in various places from a greenhouse, a fire station, and in a garage, to a little shop where we even left the little critters there some dessert behind the shed we slept in.

       We also met one great group of characters along the way. In one town there was a really drunk dude who was watching people's cars for them for tips. After asking around for places to stay and being recommended a church shelter by the police, he asked me where we were going to stay. I told him, "Over there at the church shelter." He just looked at me with those yellow-glazed eyes, shook his head, and said, "I wouldn't even stay there! That place is dangerous." So, I told Chris, he told me he also thought it was a good idea for, "there are a few weird people in this town." We ended up staying indoors at the fire department.

       The highway finally led us to Villarica where you barely ride without seeing a volcano, or the effects of one (in the case of the stretch between Junin de los Andes and San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina). We had a little time off in Villarica, a day in Pucon, and a really wonderful evening with a fire by a river in one of the best camp spots of the trip right before the Pass Mamuil-Malal. It was good we relaxed though, for as soon as we entered Argentina the dry surroundings came upon us once again and we were tormented by the ash-filled air all the way down to Bariloche. We had debated routes a couple of times, but as soon as we neared Bariloche we were in agreement that we needed to get back to Chile and way from the ash the volcano Puyehue had been spitting since June of the previous year.

       We took a touristic three-boat ride, which included a short 20 kilometers of cycling over a pass, to Chile from Bariloche. It was a nice little trip and we were able to enjoy some nice views from on the boats, but the best part of this tour was not the tour itself, it was while we made the reservation! When Chris and I went inside the agency that was selling the tickets for the boat we were dirty and stinky. We both looked like we had just come out of a desert sandstorm, were sweating like piggies, and hadn't bathed in a decade (and as a matter of fact we had just come out of a desertified area covered in ash and hadn't had a proper shower in some time). We asked a question or two and then the girl said to us (mind you, we are now in the lakes district of Chile and Argentina), "Hay que traer mucha Agua!" Chris then responded with his chest in the air, his cool sunglasses, dirty ass cyclist clothes and helmet still on, "jaja, Eso no es un desierto!" ***("You have to bring a lot of water", to which Chris responded, "haha, this is not a desert!") I practically died. The look on her face was priceless. I know Chris did not mean to sound tough and was not even looking to impress the girl, he was just stating a fact for there would be water everywhere, but the way in which he said it, especially how the girl booking our reservation understood it, the response was incredible. I would do the trip over again just to see this happen once more!

       So we took the tour in two days and we landed in Puerto Varas. We then made our way to Puerto Montt, and from there would ride in Chile all the way down to Villa Mañihuales. From Puerto Montt down, we realized the hype behind the Carretera Austral. A rainforest zone, the ride was incredibly green, lush, and very beautiful. We viewed some incredible glaciers, dealt with a fair quantity of rain and experienced a wide array of flora and fauna I had not seen since Colombia, and many things I had not seen ever. It was really an incredible ride that included a couple of ferries through fjords where we even saw dolphins jumping alongside the boat.

       We arrived in Villa Mañihuales tired, but very excited about everything we had seen and experienced during our time together. From our great campsites, meals, fires, and conversations, to the silly experiences we had along the way, we both were about to separate directions quite satisfied. We remembered the good old days back from San Francisco, USA, to El Salvador. We also spoke of the recent events... Just South of Puerto Montt we had camped on a beach where a little girl and her mom warned us about the danger of crabs getting us at night if we slept there (the little girl was terrified for us). In the same place we saw a man surfing on the beach being trailed with a rope by a couple cows. Chris even kind of lost it and was telling me how much the sound of the ocean bothered him and how he didn't want to camp near the ocean anymore! **All of this made me wonder a little more about what the effects of the Hanta virus everybody had been advertising and telling me about were... Crabs, cow-surfing, ocean too loud??!!!  A whole town infected with something? ...It was a really fun stay.

       It was very difficult to say goodbye to Chris again, but we promised we would see each other again in Europe later that year. Chris was to be off South, and I was now leaving on a hitchhiking trip from Villa Mañihuales. I would leave my bike with Jorge at the Casa de Ciclistas to which I would return in one month after seeing my lovely girlfriend Gaby and picking up my buddy Sam. It was great riding with you Swiss Chris! See you soon in Europe!!!! 

Take a look at the photo album from this section!!!:

Santiago to Villa Manihuales, Chile

Even if there are not blog posts of every section, there are photo albums of the entire tour!!!!!

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