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Feb 16th - Mar 23rd 2010

Chile Cont. & Argentina

 

16/02/2009

Start Mileage - 25967

Miles - 111

Lebu (Camping la Fortuna) - Tome (Camping Claro de Luna)

Nick was up early to go check out the surf and to look for some board hire shops. Although there was good surf the town isn't very touristy so no hire shops. As it’s only Tuesday, we think it’s a bit of a long time to hang around for the surf comp at the weekend, so move on again. The water came on this morning but there was no way it was going to be hot!!

We took the coast road towards Concepcion (Chile’s second largest city), although it didn't follow the coast for a lot of the way and was mostly through big industrial towns but on the other hand it was good to be away from the usual tourist trail.

Just as we hit the outskirts of Concepcion, I noticed Nick’s back tyre was a bit flat, luckily we were just outside a “Gomeria” (tyre repair shop). Whip the back wheel off and the inner tube has been ripped beyond repair. Replaced with his spare tube and we are done and dusted within the hour, for £3. Nick is having a bit of a run of bad luck, although so far, quickly and easily remedied.

Not wanting to stay in a big town we decided to run on up the coast a bit to Tome, a little village about an hour further on. Looking for a campsite without success we pulled into a fuel station to see if we could get directions, where we met a couple on their bike also looking. Luckily they were Chilean and spoke the lingo so we were soon on our way to a site about 3Km’s out of town. We got good deal for the 5 of us sharing two sites for two nights

Time is getting on so by the time we got the tents up we made it into town just before the supermarket closed. A late meal and just a few drinks before an early night. And we found out we are at another site with no hot water, we’re starting to smell again!!!!!!

 

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17/02/2009

Start Mileage - 26083

Miles - 91

Tome (Camping Claro de Luna) - Curanipe (Camping la Serina)

We thought we would stay here a couple of days but the Chilean couple were up and away early so that put paid to the good deal we had last night, it’s now reverted to the normal rate, to expensive for a site with no hot water. We are having a lot of late starts and today is no different. After a big pot of porridge it’s 13:30 before we are ready for the off. Not sure where we are going today, heading just up the road for Constitution then we will decide depending on time. The road was tarmac for most of the way, up and down and twisty through the mountains and a bit of nice coast road running thrown in made it a good  ride, and still off the main tourist route. Stopping for a fuel stop at Quirihue we decided on a coffee stop, I was fuelled up first so took a ride up the street to look for a café, found one and went back to tell Lorraine and Nick. Nick had left the fuel station and was on the other side of the road so I pointed him in the direction of the café, Lorraine had seen where I had stopped and walked on up. By the time I had turned around and got back to the café we had lost Nick!!! He had seen another café, which I hadn't, and thought that was the one I was pointing to. We were both waiting for each other to turn up. Lorraine went for a wander and spotted the bike. After coffee we moved on again, leaving the nice warm, sunny town square and heading to the mountains again, and it gets colder and colder. Riding right alongside the sea and back onto the ripio for about 30 KM’s, tight and twisty through the mountains and then back to the sea. The mist is starting to roll in off the sea and it’s getting a bit dull so we start to look for a campsite. Just as we entered Curanipe we just missed an entrance that we thought looked like a campsite. We turned around to double check and were glad we did, a really good site right on the sea front, and they let us have two spots for the price of one. And as an added bonus … hot water!!

We got supplies from the onsite shop, no meat so a veggie meal, not to worry tho, they sold wine too!! We turned in about 01:00 and  nick went off to one of the locals tents and partied till 04:00. I remember when I used to be able to do that!!

 

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18/02/2009

Curanipe (Camping la Serina)

Definitely staying here another night, Nick woke up with a massive hangover and a female alongside him, just his luck it was a dog!!!

Spent the day mingleing with the other campers and collecting firewood off the beach. Took a ride into town and watched the surfers and fishing boats for a while. Checked out the restaurants as we are going to treat ourselves to a cooked by somebody else meal tonight. Wandering around the fish market it was very tempting to get some of the nice looking fresh fish and cook on the Barbie but we decided to stick with the original plan. It was a good meal, Lorraine thought she was getting cod and chips but it turned out to be something like sea urchin, surprisingly she ate it!!  A good meal and a couple of beers and we headed back to the site for some Vino. No parties tonight, we are getting up early to go and watch a bit of the surf competition and maybe get on the road a bit early!.

 

19/02/2009

Start Mileage - 26180

Miles - 154

Curanipe (Camping la Sirena) - Vilches (Camping Los Aromas)

The alarm on my phone went off, it’s still dark??? Bugger …. I’d switched the alarm on but not changed the time from when we were doing the wind checks on the Ruta 40. lucky for me I didn't hear it, Lorraine did tho!!!!

Up at a reasonable time for a change and all packed up we decided not to go into town to watch the surfers, might be a bit dodgy leaving all the gear if it’s busy. We are going to a place a bit further North  (Pichilemu) near Santiago where there is a big surf gathering apparently, Nick will go surfing and we will soak up some rays. The weather has picked up again, getting quite hot. Niiiice!!

We had a lunch stop in Constitucion, a nice town, we would have liked to stay around for a while but pushed on North. Hopefully get to Santiago and get the bike in for an overdue service.

We pushed inland from the coast to take the Ruta 5 to get to Santiago and back to the coast a bit quicker. We stopped at Talca for fuel, coffee and to get out of the heat for a while, time to get back on the road again and the bike wouldn't start, it’s happened before but always fired up on the second or third press of the button. Not this time tho, not having any of it …..hmmmmm not good, think there might be some grot in the starter button. Eventually we get  a rumble and everythings good, I’ll strip it down and give it a clean up at the next stop.

While we were looking at the map for a likely stop, Nick said that he wasn't overly bothered about going to Pichilemu, the surf would probably be to high for him and he could probably get cheaper surfing elsewhere. The decision was made .. Cut across now back into Argentina to John and Annettes place. We can get the service in and start arranging everything to fly home :-(

Change of route, we cut across to San Clemente and found a nice site at Vilches, lots of trees for shade from the heat and on the river, no electricity, no lights and cold showers again, but a nice site nonetheless. Way out in the sticks and not a shop nearby apart from the site shop, we were limited on our food. The only meat they had in the shop was some plasticy looking chorizo sausages and potatoes, beggars can’t be choosers, at least they had wine. We saw some light and heard noise coming from the top of the site and went to investigate. A big communal area, with a burger van and an outdoor screen showing English speaking films so spent the evening there.

 

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20/02/2009

Vilches (Camping Los Aromas)

We are staying another night here so need to get into town to get some decent supplies. Hopefully we can survive on whatever cash we have as we are crossing back into Argentina tomorrow and won’t be back for a while. We had enough for food and vino and a fuel top up so we should be ok as long as we can get some money pretty soon after crossing the border. That put paid to our visit to the 7 Teacups on the Claro river Park. So we head back to the site battling the Sunday drivers, yes they have them here too!!! Managing to get past most of them easily enough I get stuck behind one driver that just won’t give me any room, spotting an easy overtake I go for it, just after passing the car I spotted the Carabinero just ahead, did they see me .. Yes!! Bugger.

So we pull over as directed by the cop and hope he’s just going to give us a bollocking, he asks for our papers, hope he doesn't ask for insurance, we only have cover for Argentina!!! We do only get a severe finger wagging and sent on our way, phew lucky escape.

Me and Nick are scavenging around for firewood, not a lot around, the site is quite busy so most of it has already been picked up. An old couple parked near us give us a couple of veg crates to start the fire with and tell us of a stash of wood they have seen, but it’s up the hill behind the campsite, might as well investigate. The gardeners have been cutting back the trees and there is shed loads of it but all big lengths, so we go back to the tent to grab some straps to make it easy to carry the wood back. Fully stocked we struggle back to the tent.

Nick went back up the hill to get more wood for some old dears that were struggling to bring their pile down and got supplied with wine for his efforts.

Only Karaoke going on at the communal area tonight so just sat around the fire chatting.

 

21/02/2009

Start Mileage - 26370

Miles - 175

Vilches (Camping Los Aromas) - Malargue (Argentina(Camping Municipal)

The women that Nick carried the wood for yesterday brought over a breakfast beer for us and later some Humitas, a traditional Chilean food made from corn, onions, basil and butter wrapped up in the leaves and cooked on the asado, very tasty. Up early but still late on the road after breakfast!

The map says we have a lot of ripio to deal with today to get over the Pehuenche Pass and through the border, could be a long hard day today. Looks like things are in our favour today, the pass is newly laid tarmac all the way to the top at 2,900 meters where we stopped for a break and the wind started blowing up, thought we had left that behind!!!

The tarmac carried on to the Chilean exit post before turning back to roadworks and ripio for the 75Km’s between the border posts. The road was in good nick and we managed to motor on quite well for most of the ride, tho I was having a bit of trouble off the straight bits and just can't do corners today. We cleared the Argentine customs after a bit of a wait, Nick had gone ahead of us and got himself in the queue but by the time we got to the post the barrier had been closed and we had to wait to catch somebody to open up for us. With all the trouble we had been hearing about UK and Argentina kicking off over the Falkland Isles again, Nick said he felt a bit uncomfortable and thought he was getting a bit of attitude from a couple of the Gendarmes. Although we didn't get the same feeling, tho there was a bit of a problem with the cops not being able to find our last exit stamp from Argentina and then not having any supplies of one of the forms that we needed to enter the country. The stamp was found, a form was downloaded from the internet and all is good. The cops tell us we have 20KM’s of ripio, 20KM’s of tar, another 20KM’s of ripio then tarmac all the way afterwards.  The first 40 KM’s were good with the ripio being manageable and some nice twisties on the relatively good tarmac. Now we are back on the Ruta 40, or what used to be the R40. the road was redirected and this part is no longer maintained, the map says that it is “tarmac but in a bad state of repair”. Expecting to just have to negotiate potholes we were in for a surprise, no tar whatsoever and just as bad as the bit we did from Tres Lagos to Los Antiguos, not as much wind tho. Nick was struggling too, not the best of ends to an already hard days riding. We were really struggling, both feet down and paddling through, Nick was ahead of us but not by much, we caught up with him and said for him to ride on and we would catch him up in Malargue, last sign posted it as 50 KM’s. he’s not going to leave us but will ride on and wait for us at the really bad bits in case we need a hand picking the bike up. 10KM’s and about 45 minutes later we turn a corner and are greeted by the sight of nice flat (ish) tarmac which we were glad ran all the way to Malargue. Just as we run into town we get hauled over at a police stop, think they just wanted to look at the bikes and chat. We get directions for petrol, supermarket and campsite from the cops, carried out in that order as time is getting on again. The campsite is very busy but we manage to find a space and get the tents up just as we get blocked in by a local. When we point out that he has put his massive tent across the entry/exit to the spot we are in he just shrugs his shoulders and says “tough titty”, we assumed that’s what he said in Spanish!! If we need to get the bikes out we’ll just unpeg his tent. A hard hot day in the saddle but the shower will have to wait till tomorrow, food and wine have priority. Just after we finish scoffing it starts to spit with rain and there is a lot of lightening.

 

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22/02/2009

Malargue (Camping Municipal)

Woke up this morning to a bit of a damp start. Apparently, the drizzle and lightening last night turned into a full blown storm (never heard a thing!!). Nick was up through the night digging trenches around his tent to try and deflect the water.

Staying here another day as we need to contact John and Annette to confirm we are ok to visit them. Nick is spending most of the day in bed, we go into town for a look around and to send emails, not much to town but manage to drag the afternoon out. Nick is still kipping when we get back. Mr big tent has packed up and gone so we can get the bikes out if no-one else parks there. We are all still a bit knackered after yesterdays ride a bit of a subdued evening.

 

23/02/2009

Start Mileage - 26545

Miles - 120

Malargue (Camping Municipal) - San Rafael (John & Annettes)

No replies from the emails or texts we have sent to John and Annette so we decide to move to San Rafael and try again from there.

We had a slow pack down as we haven't got too far to go. A Chilean guy we had been chatting to had heard the Pogues playing on our music box and asked if I could transfer some onto his phone, he also took the spag bol we had left over from last night.

Not a very exciting ride from Malargue to San Rafael, good tarmac road but mostly very flat and open countryside. As we got closer to San Rafael the scenery changed with vineyards and orchards dominating. We stopped at a YPF fuel station for coffee and free wi-fi to check the email again …. still nothing. Nick rang and left a message on Annettes phone. Several coffees later Annette calls back, we have passed their place about 10KM’s back down the road, she tells us to stay put and she will come and get us which gives her an excuse to get out on the bike.

A quick stop on the way for food for tonight and we arrive at “Finca Rita” J & A’s fruit farm. Ken and Carol Duval are staying there too, they have the spare room so we have the choice, tent up or we can sleep in a hammock on the patio, we opt for the tent and Nick takes the hammock.  A great feed and loads of drink, we never got the tent up until gone midnight and carried on chatting till 03:30.

 

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24/02 - 02/03/2009

San Rafael (Finca Rita)

Well here we are, the trip has come to a close and we are into the last few weeks. We have to sort out the service for the bike and investigate flights home.

John and Annette have said it’s ok to leave the bike with them so that’s one problem sorted.

Nick trapped again last night, Rita, one of the farm dogs decided it wanted in the hammock with him, think he has a thing for mutts!!!!!!

Jobs are allocated to us as repayment for our food and accommodation, Annette has a few extra jobs in her little book that we can do alongside picking plums and general working on the farm. We choose to make some hanging baskets, build a barbecue pit, repair the pergola and bench on the campsite and do a bit of the cooking. The next couple of days were spent doing our jobs and having fun around the farm.

Friday 27/02/2009

We are off to the speedway / stock car racing tonight along with Vincent and Betianna, friends of John and Annette. A good night with some good racing, especially the bikes. About half way through the evening we felt a violent shudder run through the grandstand, we put it down to the spectators stamping their feet in support of one of their favourite riders until we hear the commentator asking everyone to stay calm as there had been an earthquake somewhere, everyone stayed quite well behaved under the circumstances. We later found out that there had been a major earthquake and tsunami in Chile with the epicentre in Concepcion, was it fate that we decided to cut back into Argentina rather than head on to Pichilemu??? The whole area that we had planned to visit has been devastated by the quake, and there are more quakes over the next couple of days, some of which we felt here in San Rafael. News reports are saying that there are 700 people dead and at least 2,000,000 have been made homeless.

Ken and Carol left on Monday, they have been visiting John and Annette on and off over the last couple of years and this is the last time they will be here. 

 

03-08/03/2010

Start Mileage 26665

Miles 163

San Rafael - Mendoza (Hostel Independencia)

 

We are going to spend a few days just hanging around in Mendoza while we wait to get the bike serviced. We stayed at the Hostel Independencia that had been recommended to us by John and Annette on the previous recommendation  of Brian and Marie (Canada). Nice place not too far from the town.

Bike booked into BMW for Thursday.

While we are here there is a wine festival going on, the Fiesta de la Vendimia where the locals celebrate the grape and induct the new years queen of the grape. It was already throbbing in Mendoza when we got there and it got worse over the weekend, we couldn’t walk through the streets for the amount of people, a popular event but just a little overcrowded for us.

Friday, BMW rang, the fuel regulator that was bypassed in Trelew when we had the break down is a BMW recall, but the part needs to be shipped in from Buenos Aires.

The festival main parade was on Saturday, the day we were supposed to be picking the bike up from BMW. The shop was due to close at 13:00, but they were running late with the bike, having to wait for the replacement fuel regulator to be sent from BA, so we didn’t get the call until 11:30. Now we have the difficulty for us to get through the throng of the crowds and the parade that has closed off most of the roads, they said they would stay open for us until we got there, “no matter what time” … service!

 

08-23/03/2010

Start Mileage - 26840

Miles - 157

Mendoza - San Rafael

Heading back to San Rafael and Finca Rita today. A hot day but comfortable riding. We had a quick stop at a WallMart just outside Mendoza to look for a non stick frying pan for John & Annette!! No joy with that simple task.

About an hour into the ride back we noticed two familiar looking bikes going in the opposite direction. We both turned around and pulled up at the side of the road .. It was Ekkie, Fralka & the two kids, the German family we met at Viedma and along the way to Ushuaia and Northwards. They are nearing the end of their trip and are heading back home soon. After a chat we said our goodbyes and headed off.

Back at the finca, Nick & John and Isabelle are still there along with another German couple, Toby & Louisa, friends of Nick who he had met on the way.

Biding our time now around the farm until the 23rd when we fly back home. Lots of work to be done around the farm to keep us busy and earn our keep.

Nick has been contacted by a friend of his who works for a charity (Shelterbox) and he is going to go and help with the disaster relief in Chile after the earthquake.

When there was a quiet period!!!!! on the farm we had a day at the driving range and a game of golf . Good game … I won!!

John and Annette took us for a great ride to the Valle Grande, very picturesque. No luggage on the bike and Lorraine in one of the cars the bike was a different beast altogether, I felt a lot more confident and it was a lot easier to ride on the loose stuff.

Nick leaves to go and assist in Chile.

More fun working on the farm and get to drive the tractor.

 

E-Mail from Nick after he’s been there a while :-

 

Hello mate. Yep, still in Chile... Talcahuano at the moment, west of conception. We´ve been distributing tents all around the Talca to Lebu area. returned to Curanipe 2 days ago....there was nothing left of the harbour area where we had dinner....no building left AT ALL apart from the shell of the resaurant we ate in and oneor 2 others...all the rest was gone. All of it....

Then we went past the campsite and I cried when I saw it......there´s nothing left...individual spots, fenced off....gone. The house...shop...pool room.....gone.....most of the trees are stiil there but no more. Nothing...no people in the whole town..... it´s fucking devastated it all. apparently they reckon a 6 meter wave hit that beach....20 foot......cleaned it out...

Tomorrow I´m heading back to Lebu.....there´s no river to the sea anymore afterthe seabed rose 1m after the quake....all the fishingboats got washed up the river then smashed to pieces on the bridge...then the land rose and cut off the river from the sea.... the town itself is ok but the harbour area is a mess.

On the plus side ..... it´s still hot and the Chileno girls are very happy we´re here.... :)

See you for a beer sometime mate.

 

They have been hit hard and it is hard to imagine the devastation at some of the places we had been to.

 

The day finally arrives and we have to leave the great hospitality of John & Annette and head back home. The bike is stored away safely in the barn. A final drink with J&A in town while we are waiting for the bus and a 13 hour drive to BA.

Arrived safely at BA with only a couple of hours to wait for the plane.

 

 

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