Posted by: paulgilders | February 15, 2012

Week 4

Another week has flown past and much like last week, we’ve had some good and bad days. Our luxurious accommodation in La Junta extended another day giving us time to wash out and dry our clothes. In no time, the cabin looked like a laundromat, but the wood stove did a great job of giving us a complete set of clothes to go forward.

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There are plenty of chickens (including roosters) wandering the streets of La Junta, so we chanced our luck with some local eggs and were rewarded with excellent breakfast!

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At La Junta we realise that we have a cashflow issue. We are told that we cannot get money out until the town of Coyhaique, which is 250km away – most likely a week away, but we have limited funds. We are therefore on minimal spend for the next week.

Given this realisation, we decide to get moving – once again getting wet and dirty. Just to prove that we don’t only have beautiful weather, this is how the road was on the day we left.

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We cycled about 45km to the very small town of Puyuhuapi – arriving very cold and soaked. We have no financial option, but to seek the cheapest form of accommodation – budget camping. But this option urns out to be good in this case, since we join the heaps of other fellow budget travellers at the main campsite. The rain is so heavy that all the tents are put in a shed. The campground is cramped, but there is a cosy kitchen area and it is very social.

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The weather forecast is for more rain, but we continue in the brighter moments and slowly make our way south. We decide to stop for 2 nights at a cheap campground to wait out poor weather.

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Gill uses her resourcefulness to collect fresh mussels and cook them on the coals of our fire. Unfortunately, this backfires literally a couple of days later, when I fall sick from suspected food poisoning.

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Good weather eventually returns and we have a few great days of good progress.

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We meet a Canadian cycling couple who are much faster than us, but have had major tyre damage from the rough road. They have one tyre that is bandaged with patches and gaffa tape, and I pat myself on the back with our own bike tyres which are fairing well. It is only when I look at the trailer tyre that I realise that we are also close to disaster. The trailer tyre is breaking up rapidly. Whilst it seemed in good condition when we left, it’s age has caused most of the rubber to disintegrate. We are fortunate that we soon find tarmac road and we are careful to minimise any unnecessary stress on the trailer.

A couple of days later, we arrive at the town of Villa Mañihuales, and are given free accommodation by a gentlemen “Jorge”, who takes in all passing cyclists for free! This suits our budgetary situation nicely, but we are shocked and amazed to find a ATM in the local supermarket which puts an end to our financial constraints. We go out for a massive slap-up meal to celebrate of course!

The next day we are back in the rain, but arrive late in the day into the big city of Coihaique after a long 90km ride. As seems to happen with all big days, we finished with a flourish – A 500m climb (with tunnel) before our descent into Coihaique.

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We feel ready for some comfort, but struggle to find available accommodation (for some reason Chileans don’t publish availability or prices, which means you end up asking everywhere even if they are “completo”). We end up staying in a dull and uncomfortable room with short spongey beds. The only saving grace is a good hot shower, which we desperately need.

The following day is Sunday and there is no possibility of laundering our huge pile of dirty washing or of replacing our tyre. Here is what the tyre looked like.

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We therefore spend the morning sorting out better accommodation for the next couple of nights and are very successful – finding a wonderful cabin with full kitchen and dining area and wonderful mountain views – and all for less than previous night’s room. We are very happy again and feeling relaxed to prepare for the next phase of the trip. Even the weather forecast looks good!

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