From Costa Rica and beyond

Friday, February 17, 2012


I am writing from Chaiten, Patagonia, Chile. This town was nearly wiped out four years ago when a volcano erupted and dumped mounds of ash here. Some homes are still filled with ash. Others are now homes again, while still others are abandoned - a result of government efforts to build a new town nearby. The policy flopped.

It has been raining like crazy here. It started yesterday as we rode. We arrived in Chaiten and sought refuge. It is high season for tourists here - both foreigners and people from Santiago. The flood of people and the sparse accommodations meant we had to split up for the night. The rain convinced us to stay another night in hope of a drier morrow.

I have really enjoyed my time in Chile, but it has not always been easy going. Certainly the scenery has been spectacular. Most recently, I traveled through the famous Lakes Region. It was great to be back in an area abounding in green foliage. The lakes, mountains, active volcanoes, and German culture made it that much better.

In one of my previous posts I pondered when I would meet up with my rider friends again. It did not take long. I spent four splendid days in Santiago (one of those was actually spent on the coast in Valparaiso with a friend). On the third day, I ran into Andre at a motorcycle shop. He was in the city with Mark and Kevin. We then headed south together. Two days later, as we were on an on ramp to Highway 5, we saw two white helmets on a motorcycle pass by on the highway. Sure enough, it was Nick and Ivanka. I am still in the company of these great folks here in Patagonia.

It has been a while since I have posted a new blog entry and, of course, I could go on and on. Instead, I am going to list a number of random miscellaneous occurrences and thoughts to give glimpses of my time thus far in Chile. Here it goes:

- After about 17000 miles I received my first dog bite in Chile (no worries, it just barely scratched my boot).

- Camping on the beach in Antofagasta two dogs pissed on my tent...while I was in it.

- I was hungry at the beach in Antofagasta and was not going to leave to get food. My neighbors brought a huge tomato and onion salad over without me even asking.

- Chile has immaculate roads, but I hit a rock as I rode into and was blinded by the sun. This broke two bolts and caused my right foot peg and center stand to fall off.

- A mechanic removed the broken bolts with great ease, but then stripped one of the holes, leaving the repair job less than perfect.

- I have used Castrol oil ever since I left the US and have found it in even the poorest communities. It´s really hard to find in Chile. I now use whatever I find.

- I lost my tire wrench when adjusting my chain. I was given one for free at a shop where I had some work done (of course, the work cost an arm and leg)

- Eucalyptus trees win my award for the most versatile tree. I have seen them in every country and almost every climate I have been in.

- Many Chilenos like the USA. What a nice change.

- Cake is called Kuchen in much of Chile.

- Saw lots of familiar plants as we got farther south in Chile: Poplar trees, pine trees, blackberries (yum!)

- Camped on a nice beach south of Concepion and was greeted by an extremely overfriendly drunken family.

- The same family warned us of robbers. That night, robbers stole two tires from Andre.

- Lots of tree plantations in areas where lumber companies must have completely stripped vast regions.

- Needed to catch a five hour ferry ride south in northern Patagonia. The ferry was booked five days out. We got on on the first day when it was raining and would have been awful to be left behind.

- Rainwater started creeping into the area where where I will be sleeping in Chaiten tonight. A bunch of us helped mop it up. The owner says that has never happened here before.

- Santiago really impresed me. I will return there for a couple months after Tierra del Fuego and Buenos Aires.

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