Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting out of the Carratera Austral

La Junta
We left Puyuhuapi quite late, but managed to ride quite a lot, thanks to the road which was very good and went down almost the whole way. On the way we met a Swiss couple (Alex & Fabrizzio, diariosdebicicleta.ch) who came from Ushuaia and planned to reach Colombia in 7 months, and a very fast Belgian (bertmertens.wordpress.com) who came from Bolivia in 2 months. We followed a tip from the Belgian and decided to cycle until a bit after La Junta, were there was a camping. In La Junta, we only stopped to buy a huge onion, that was the only one in that shop. A bit after La Junta we saw the two Argentinians we met on our way to Puyuhuapi in a camping site, but decided not to sleep there as it was a bit too expensive for us (3,500 CH$). Instead we slept in a quarry, were we found oil shales.


Santa Lucia
In the morning, the Argentinians passed us long before we were ready to go, and we waved to the Swiss who passed also before we left.


At noon we met the Swiss cyclists who were getting ready to eat their lunch, and moved on as this is a very early hour for us to lunch (we usually eat at the middle of the riding day, between 2 and 3 PM). On our way we met a big group of American cyclists with mountain bikes and no gear. This was an organized group that was cycling from Bariloche to El Chalten. They were eating lunch and it seemed very reach: a pile of cheese, soup and olives. When we finally stopped for lunch we met the Swiss again, and they joined us to eat their ¨4 O´clock meal¨, even though it was only 3 PM. For the rest of the day we cycled together.



A bit after Santa Lucia we camped together next to a river.


We started cooking together, and when they finished eating and cleaning their dishes, we were almost done cooking.

In the morning all 4 of us had breakfast in our tent which got nice and warm with 2 stoves cooking oatmeal. That is what almost all cyclists eat for breakfast, with different variations. We usually eat it with sugar, cinnamon, banana, raisins, apples or other fruit. They ate their oatmeal with raisins, apples and salt (!). As they were much faster in getting ready after breakfast, we said goodbye in the morning. We passed them again before Puerto Ramirez, while their were finishing lunch, and they passed us again after we failed to buy bread in town. The rest of the day was rainy, and the road kept going up and down.


In the evening, the rain stopped, so we decided to save the money for the night and camp a bit before Futalefue. We found a nice place near the river, with a lot of mint we used to make a very good tea.



In the morning, the sky was clear, and so, we started optimistically the short ride to Futalefue. However, after just a few minutes of riding, Amit´s back carrier broke. As we couldn´t fix it this time (the metal itself broke), we decided to try and get a new one in Futalefue. Amit had to carry most of his weight on his back to get to town, were we found a small bicycle/grocery store. We bought the only carrier they had, which was expensive and weaker than the previous. We also found there cheap raisins, but we decided not to buy them, as we were afraid that it would be problematic to take them into Argentina (wrong!). As it was getting late we decided to have lunch in town, and bought a mountain of fried Empanadas (you get a discount if you buy a dozen). While eating, a group of Italian cyclists on mountain bikes (again without gear) arrived there. After seeing our Empanada pile, they all came in to eat.

Border crossing
In the early afternoon we finally left towards the border between Chile and Argentina. We enjoyed very much this road as it was paved and declining. On the way we met a German motorcyclist, that offered us delicious cookies. At the Argentinian side, non of our bags was checked, although in theory it is forbidden to bring fruit and vegetables into Argentina. The rest of the road to Trevelin was unpaved with many rocks and holes. We managed to get to Trevelin quite quickly as the road got flat, and thanks to back wind.


We asked some people in Trevelin about a camping, and they all directed us to the police camping. There we met again Alex and Fabrizzio, the Swiss cyclists, and also Guido, the German motorcyclist from the border. We found the price of the camping (25 AR$) a bit high as it didn't have any facilities apart from the bathroom and showers, but we decided to stay because of the company. The camping was full of apple trees, so we had many delicious apples. On the following day, we went to the laundry-shop recommended by the Swiss. As it was very cheap (23AR$ for a huge basket), we washed all our clothes including our fleece jackets, which we haven't washed since the beginning of the trip. For launch we got crazy and ate chicken/fish Empanadas and a beef Hamburger.


We found an internet place which was quite cheap (5 AR$ per hour). While reading emails we discovered that Amit was accepted to KTH, Graz and Eindhoven universities, with a nice scholarship (tuition waiver + 500 per month!) for the first two . He accepted KTH's offer, and now he is waiting for their final approval which should arrive soon. The British at Imperial College London are still processing paperwork. It should be funny to hear their final decision about the time that Amit would already start studying in Sweden. Shoham got accepted with full scholarships to all the universities she applied to (MIT, UCLA, Rutgers and Georgia Tech), except from Cambridge (U.K. again), that still told her nothing.

Happy Birthday Marco
On the day after, which was the birthday of Marco Letzter (March 17th), Shoham's father, we made prune jam from prunes we picked all around town. As non of the computers in town had Skype and fast internet, we asked the camping owners to use their phone. Thus, we were able to wish Mazal Tov to Marco, who called with his new iPhone through Skype, on his way to celebrate his birthday. While Shoham was talking to her parents, Amit chatted with the camping owner, and let him taste our jam. He liked it very much, and maybe that is why he let us use the police's kitchen to cook in the freezing night. In the morning we left towards Los Alerces national park.


                     Shoham & Amit

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