Disclaimer: this entry is written by Hilary and therefore has significant bias. Chris is currently working and thus not available to edit.
We have spent three noches a Santiago y dos noches a Puerto Montt. We also spent a night on a bus from the former to the later.
Lessons learnt along the way:
- After our arranged hotel transfer did not arrive so we found a random guy who turned out was not a taxi driver at all. He gave us a great rate to our hostel and did a dodgy move to evade airport carpark boomgate but most importantly he was right! He could fit all a shit into his suburban SUV! 2 bike boxes, 3 people, 2 masive bags.
- Trying to assemble your bike at 6am after a 14 hour bus drive and little sleep is not funny. Having stray dogs bark at you whilst trying to put your mudguards on is a little unnerving.
- After putting bike together in arrival hall of bus terminal, cycling with complete cycle touring kit plus hiking/alpine kit in a hiking pack on your back is tiring. (@Liz: chris got his way eventually)
- People speak spanish REALLY quickly. My 535 XP points on duo lingo are no match. On the other hand Chris’s 15 XP points lead him to buy a chicken empananda by accident…
- We made several trips to investigate how the chillean postal/courier services run. We had read that you can post your parcels by bus. what the? We were (and to some point still are) dubious about the concept. You dump your bag at a bus companies cargo department and then pick it up from a different depot down the line. We will post later how efficent this process is. (The system is currently in posession of all our hiking/alpine gear) If nothing else its cheap! $50 AUD gets a 25kg bag a distance eqivalent to Melbourne to Sydney return.
- Chilleans love hot dogs! As far as I can tell this is the nations second most favourite dish after empanadas. And boy do they do a good hot dog. In Santiago we found a chain restaurant that serves soy hot dogs. there is avocado, many kinds of salsa and sauces, corn, lettuce, bits of potato chips and many things I could not identify.
Having recovered mostly from hay fever and jetlag we got through our first day without a Siesta.
Most excitingly we are about to hit the road for real. We have stocked up on food staples and have a map of some kind. 1200 kms later we will be in Argentina…
So far our short pedals around town have tought us some basics about cycling on the wrong side of the road. And Chilenos seem to be polite our lost rambles across Puerto montt.
Will post an update from THE road. The Carretera Austral! If this is the first you have heard of our trip. Look it up, it’s a long road.