December 29, 2012 - A few days of rain in Santiago set the scene for the next week. An uneventful ride to Chillan and Villarrica over perfectly straight roads ended in rain.
In Chillan, the only mildly amusing event was a dinner at the local fire station. The place operates as a restaurant and serves quite decent meals for mere peanuts, at least by Chilean standards. Our next stop was Villarrica, where we arrived at the start of a rainy afternoon. Despite inquiring here and there, we failed to find accommodation that wasn't stratospherically priced, although the town itself was dead, not a tourist to be seen. So we pressed on to Pucon, a tourist town twenty five kilometers further.
In Pucon, we found a place just as the heavens opened up. And the rain continued for three full days. Not just a wee bit of rain, but volumes sufficient to drench you in a few steps. Although there were some gaps, the rain didn't let up much. On day three, we managed to go for a walk during a break in the weather. We walked past a unguarded gated community and ended up in a nice enclave. It could have been West Vancouver, with huge houses tucked away in the greenery, out of sight from the main road.
From Pucon, we rode on to Puerto Varas, which is beautifully located on a lake with a volcano towering in the background.
When you are traveling, you sometimes doubt the sanity of it all. Talking to others, mostly non-travelers back home, does not help this feeling. But just in case you get the idea that riding a motorcycle around the world, without a single hotel booking, map or guidebook strikes you as foolish, rest assured there are always people out there crazier than you.
The car above is an '80s or so Polish copy of a Fiat 500. It's propped up on the curb because the driver just changed a wheel bearing. A few feet further we found a 1957 Jawa, all of 250 cc, single cylinder.
Also present were two Trabants.
Note the ingenious fuel lines coming from the tanks strapped to the roof. Did I mention all this stuff was two-stroke?
From Quellon, we took the night ferry to Chaiten to start on the Carretera Austral. We ran into a few more overlanders and I ended up chatting with Kobus (from liferemotely.com) and his wife Jessica. Jessica's write-up was the one we used to help us with the convoluted process of shipping the bikes from Panama to Colombia. It was good to be able to thank her in person.
And if you think riding a motorcycle across the world is expensive, try this on for size. A full-size truck with all the trappings.
We stayed in Chaiten for a day to relax, do laundry and repair an electrical problem. A walk around Chaiten puzzled us at first, as there were so many abandoned houses. A little inquiring and some web research filled in the blanks as to what happened here. In 2008, a volcano eruption wiped away half the town, with the balance of the residents being resettled for a year elsewhere.
The signs of destruction are still visible everywhere, with houses buried in runoff from the volcano.
And then we hopped onto the Carretera Austral.