Friday, March 4, 2011


The Way to Coyhaique
From Cerro Castillo the road is paved for the next 200 km, so it wasn´t too hard to start cycling again. In the spare time after leaving Cerro Castillo, we managed to get up to the top of the road (1,100 m high), after a climb of 15 km. We slept there between the trees.
The next day started with a long descend which was very enjoyable thanks to the paved road. The only downside was that it was raining constantly until we got down, so we were quite wet and cold. On our way down we met a French couple with their very young daughter (11 months old!) in a carrier attached to her mother´s bicycle.
She seemed to enjoy the way very much. She had a lot of toys with her, and she was sleeping peacefully at the moment despite the bad weather and the hard climb her parents were facing. This was the youngest person on a bicycle we met so far, and she reminded us of the second youngest person on bicycle we met earlier. This was 10 year old Kate from the UK, whom we met in El Chalten. She and her parents were completing a 2 years journey from Alaska, and they were about to go back so that Kate could go to school. They were riding with 2 pairs of bicycles with carts - a regular bicycle and a tandem. Farther down we met an older cyclist who was pushing his bicycle by foot and was hoping to get to the top at that day. We don´t know if he planned to do all the way by foot, but it was strange nonetheless to see him walking.
A face wind started when we were down, but at least the rain stopped. Before stopping for lunch we found a raspberry bush, and picked a considerable amount of them while trying to hide from the house near it. We stopped at a bus station right at the junction with the road from the airport, were the traffic became heavier. With the face wind we didn´t move too quickly, and to avoid getting to Coyhaique at night, we stopped 20 km before the city, near the not so clean Simpson River (this is one of the downsides of traveling in more populated areas - the big rivers are often polluted).
In the morning, there was a truck with a group of people trying to decide whether it was safe to cross the bridge over the river that led to where we were sleeping.


This bridge was strong enough to carry some pickup trucks that passed there, but it seemed to be too weak for the 2 ton truck. They were still there when we left, but they apparently (and hopefully) decided to give up the idea of crossing the river there. The descend to Coyhaique was less windy and the scenery was very beautiful, with interesting cliffs around us.


Before getting to the city, we met an American couple, about 50 years old. They were acquaintances of the French couple, and they were happy to hear that the baby was doing well.

Finding a Camping in Coyhaique
We got to the city at noon, and started our search for a camping. We tried one which was quite expensive (4,000 CH$), didn´t find any other, and instead found a bicycle shop, that we later understood was the only one in town. They seemed very professional, so we decided to come back to them later. They where no help in our search for a camping site (they didn´t even know there was a camping site in the city, and there were 2 camping sites on their street), so we went to the tourist information stand. The girl there was very knowledgeable, and spoke English well. She told us all the camping sites in town cost the same, and sent us to a cheaper one about 1 km from the city.


We started our way there, and fortunately we found a camping right at the northern entrance to the city with a reasonable price - Camping Ayelen (70 Baquedano St., 3,000 CH$), and a welcome sign for cyclists and motorcyclists. The camping is located right on the river, and to get there you have to go down quite a bit.


As the owners of the camping have other jobs as well, the camping is usually quite empty. When we got there, the only other people there were a cold British cyclists couple. There is a closed hut there with a well equipped kitchen, with an oven and a stove, but no refrigerator. There is a stream flowing there, and they arranged it so that you could keep beverages and other things in the cold stream water.

New Glasses
After settling in, we went to town, where we visited 5 optics stores in a quest for new glasses for Amit (remember the river accident...). Luckily, we had the prescription of his lenses (they don´t run eye checks there), and to make the glasses they send the frames to Santiago. Finally we managed to find a nice and cheap frame for Amit and we where told they would arrive in 4 days.

The Bicycle Shop
On the next day, we went to the bicycle store called El Figon (805 Simpson St.,, where they were able to fix all our problems. They welded our broken back aluminium carriers, and fixed up a new front carrier for Amit. The total price was naturally high, as it is the only bicycle shop in the whole Carrateta Austral.


The guy there showed us the shop´s guestbook in which clients write their opinion about the shop, with records going back 10 years. We found records of people we met earlier (Naoki from Japan, Matt from the UK and Justin from the US), as well as some old records of Israelis in Hebrew. The time our bikes were being fixed, we spent in a cheap store selling great fresh fruit and vegetables. We bought about 20 kg there for the meal we planned to cook at the camping the following day.

The Food Feast
We spent all the following day cooking, and invited the camping owners to eat dinner with us. When everything was almost ready, we ran out of gas, so we finished cooking at their house. We were 7 people eating: us two, the owners and one of their daughters (the other was asleep) and the only other guests at the camping that night - two Chilean guys. We ate two kinds of soup: zucchini soup, and beetroot, beans and tomatoes soup. We served the soups with Focaccias with oregano and garlic. We also had baked Falafel, fried potato croquettes and a delicious pumpkin and chive quiche.


The camping man admitted he had never eaten a meal without meat, and yet he enjoyed very much our vegetarian (and not vegan anymore) cooking. The girl was also intrigued by the fact that we are vegetarian. Because she doesn´t like meat so much she enjoyed many of the dishes. For dessert we had a lemon sponge cake, a prune cake, pears cooked in white wine, a fruit salad, and sweet buns with bananas, roasted almonds, raisins, and homemade "chocolate" from bad Chilean cocoa.


The camping lady asked shyly if she could keep some of the leftovers, and we agreed of course, as there was quite a lot left. We enjoyed a lot playing with their dog, but in the morning he ate shoham´s underpants that were drying after laundry.
The past two days we spent mostly at an internet place, with great internet connection for a reasonable price. We plan to leave tomorrow, and head towards Futaleufu, where we will cross the border to Chile.

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


                     Shoham & Amit

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