Thursday, March 3, 2011

Caleta Tortel

Challenging Road
We left Villa O´Higgins on the morning of the Fiesta, which should have included free BBQ and Rodeo shows.


After riding a bit on the unpaved road, Amit´s front carrier broke. We spent an hour fixing it, but it broke completely after another bit of riding, so we had to take the things from Amit´s front carrier to his back carrier, and to Shoham´s bike.
On the next day, we were supposed to cycle by a river, so we thought it would be quite easy and flat, but instead we had some long climbs, followed by descents going back to the river. During one of them, we were offered a ride from a truck driver, but refused bravely. We met a Belgian couple who told us there was no wind in the Carratera Austral and right after talking to them, we had strong face wind. In general, we had amazing views of cliffs and glaciers, and at some parts this scenery road passed through cliffs.

We made it well on time to the evening ferry from Rio Bravo to Puerto Yungay. This ferry runs three times a day, by the army, and is free of charge.


5 minutes before the ferry left, the Dutch couple we met near Villa O´Higgins arrived. They made it in one day from Villa O´Higgins (about 100 km, plus 20 km they had to do again because they lost their fuel bottle).
We slept right where the ferry left us, in an abandoned shed, surrounded by raspberries which we started right away picking and eating. Later we went to the expensive grocery store, where the owner told us that the raspberries were hers and that we weren´t allowed to eat from them, so we tried to hide when eating them.


The day after, we had 10 km of a hard climb in the rain, and we were again offered 2 rides we refused.

From the top, we had easy but cold 30 km (we were soaked wet) to Caleta Tortel. This town is 20 km off-road, and following other cyclists advise, we decided to go there. It is located next to a lake, and all the streets are made from wood, with lots of bridges and stairs.


This may be a heaven for kids, but hell for cyclists. The (free) camping site, is located at the other end of town (at least 2 km from the entrance), and we tried to reach it. First with our bicycles, then without them (we left them at the entrance), but it was too hard in the rain with all our stuff.


We decided to camp on some view point we found on the way. While setting up the tent we got a tempting offer from a local guy, Ernesto, to sleep at his place for 5000 CH$ per person. This was quite a good price (the Dutch couple slept for 8000 CH$ per person), and we were wet as well as all our stuff, so we agreed immediately. We ate dinner that consisted mainly of good bread made by our host, Ernesto. Then we noticed it was February 13th, which meant it was going to be Shoham´s birthday the following day, so we decided to stay another night (not a hard decision as it was raining all day long), and to cook a birthday meal.

Happy Birthday, Shoham!
On the day after, we started by going all the way up to the camping site, just out of curiosity. It looked nice although without any facilities, but you can take a shower at a local lady´s house (500 CH$) not so far from there. On the way back, we picked a lot of raspberries, and went to some ridiculously expensive grocery stores.
For the birthday meal, we made pumpkin soup, baked fallafel (with chickpeas and potatoes), mujadra (rice with lentils), and for desert a sponge cake with raspberry jam, and sweet bread. We invited Ernesto to eat with us, and in return we didn´t have to pay for using his kitchen and for his bread we ate. We learned that he used to be a replacement for the Chilean soccer team Colo-Colo from Santiago.


He also told us that his family (a wife and two girls) was away for a vacation, and that they consume 50 kg of flour in about two months. The meal was great and we had leftovers for two more meals.

In the morning, after about a day and a half of non-stop rain, the rain stopped. We ate pancakes with raspberry jam, and left the house. Ernesto helped us with carrying things back to the entrance to town, were we met again Naoki, who got to town a day before us, and planned to leave the day after. With nice weather we started cycling high spirited, after a good birthday celebration.


All the photos above were not taken by us and are just for illustration purposes.


                     Shoham & Amit

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