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herbert and i

Finally green

CHILE | Wednesday, 29 October 2008 | Views [359]

I decided to stay in La Sirena for a couple of days, just to compose myself and regain some energy. The endless desert roads and the constant battering from the wind, the stress of punctures and chain problems had tired me out more than i imagined. I hung around with the boys at the bike shop and wandered the pleasant streets. Feeling much better after the few days it was time to move on, i decied to visit Vicuna and a observatory. It was a short ride cutting through a narrow valley surrounded by mountains, the slopes and heights covered in cactus, the valley floor fertile and green planted with thousands of vines some for wine but mainly for Pisco a distilled wine liquer of a around 40% proof.

I found a hostel, where another biker and his girlfriend were guests. We made a plan and decided to leave together in a couple of days and ride some back roads down towards Santiago. That night i visited the observatory, it was wonderfully clear and the altitude and lack of lights made space seem very full. On the walk back from the observatory i could smell barbecue so the next night i bought meat and the hostel host Rita from Germany let me use the BBQ. It drew all the guests out so i ended up cooking for 6. We had a great laugh and this allowed me to get to know my new travelling companions. The next day we left for Monte Patria along a back road. We reached a well graded dirt road which quickly became a stony winding hell ride. the scenery was spectacular, snow clad mountains surrounding us with the lower reaches arid and covered with cactus. The road wound its way south with tricky sand and stone hairpin bends. We were all glad to reach the bitumen, it had taken nearly 3 hours to cover the 70 kms. We found a hostel in Monte Patria with the only parking in the courtyard of their home. We had a great night with friends of the family being invited over to meet us and dinner in the hosts dining room, outside the sounds of post election festivities continued till early morning.

We needed to ride another dirt section of around 60 kms and were assured it was a good road. Again hairpin after hairpin and more stones this time larger and sharper and deep sand in the culverts. We decided to get on the bitumen after this section. Again hours to complete this road exhausted we reached the coast and the soothing sound of the ocean. Martin paraglides and the next day he flew and Emke and i relaxed. On to Villparaiso next and then the south.

Vallparaiso is a sprawling port town bordered by Vina del Mar a beach resort with little soul. We made for a hostel owned by an Italian and German couple. The town is hilly and has a touch of Wellington New zealand about it. Multicoloured homes dot the hillsides and old elevators take people up and down the hills. We sat out drinking with the owners and the next day made a short ride south. The towns along the beachfront are mainly industrial so we decided to head back inland to the mountains. Again we travelled back roads with vineyards dotting the hillsides and filling the valleys. This is the main agricultural area of Chile. The snow clad Andes in the background and beautiful blue skies making the mountains stand out. We crisscrossed the countryside trying to avoid Ruta 5 the main highway but at times had to rejoin it without options. A few days of this and i then decided it was time to move on. A wonderful parilla with the locals of Santa Barbara, on our last night together was a fitting end to a fun riding partnership. The next day i rode south with my destination being Villarica, all the way along volcanoes were visible, snow clad and perfect cones. On the way into town i was flagged down by another motorcyclist and invited to stay at there house. We rode up to Villarica together and then onto their home, what a view, the house sits at the foot of a most perfect volcano. I know i keep saying it but i am experiencing the most amazing kindness and generosity, i still think its the bike though.

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