Posted by: paulgilders | February 26, 2012

Coyhaique to Cochrane

We are currently in the town of Cochrane after two big days of riding. It’s been an incredible 10 days since we left Coyhaique. We have experienced some incredible highs and lows. The scenery has been varied, but consistently incredible, even through the rain and clouds. We have experienced good progress on tarmac roads, and incredibly slow and frustrating progress on corrugated and slippery gravel. However, it seems that the days of hardship are always rewarded with incredible experiences.

I love landscapes, and Northern Pategonia has incredible landscapes in abundance. Once you have seen something incredible, it seems you go over another pass and there is something equally or more impressive. It seems that the beauty is always 360 degrees and many photos don’t do it justice.

We continue to mix our lodging between camping and cabins, which is working well. Even our wild camping has been good if not quite as comfortable.

The cycling has settled down. We seem to have found a rhythm that suits us all and we can manage for long periods with regular food breaks. The food is varied. We find occasional gems, but often cannot obtain what we want. It seems that fruit and vegetables are great on the day of delivery, but if you arrive at the wrong time, there is simply nothing of edible quality. A few days ago we were in town of Rio Tranquilo (which is quite a big town by Pategonian standards) and could not find tomatoes, cheese, cereal or any edible fruit. However, the bread was wonderful and the sweet apple empanadas a delight.

We have had varied weather, but one thing is for sure – it is getting much colder as we travel south. The winds are fresh and without the sun, we are stretching our warm clothing supply. In particular, wet shoes and socks, and cold fingers are the issues.

One of the other things we are noticing is that it is getting quiet. It seems that we are now just behind peak season, which means that accommodation availability is high and the road traffic is minimal. Yesterday, during the 7 hours of travel, I’d estimate that we saw 10 vehicles.

The other significant factor is that there have been roadblocks in most of the towns. Locals are demonstrating against the government requesting improved roads (something we would support). They are holding up traffic for 3 hour periods and we found out yesterday that they are also blocking the transportation of fuel. This explains the lack of fresh vegetables in the stores and the low traffic volumes. As cyclists, we have been able to ride through the blockades so far without any issues. It does seem strange that the demonstrations are causing so much pain to the local community. Not all locals agree with the actions, but there is certainly an underlying feeling that Patagonia does not receive its fair share of investment from central government in Chile.

I’ve simplified my photo publishing this time round to “The Ugly” and “The Beautiful”.

The Ugly

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The Beautiful

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Responses

  1. Soz Paul but I think you got some of the photos in the wrong catergories, the noodle and unidentifiable protein on top surely should go in the Beautiful! And as for the floating balls – dumplings? what were they? I can sense a desperation for a good fresh green leaf salad. But I think the beautiful landscapes more than makes up for the lack of fresh veg. Wow some of those mountains are just stunning and it must be such a feeling of exhilaration when you get to the top of a pass and then look back at what you have just done. Good on you all! More info on the caves in the water please! We went for another ride this morning. Got caught up in the middle of the annual Triathalon in Cleveland, not quite sure why loads of people all cheered when we accidentally broke through a ribbon some dipstick tied across the road.

  2. Pretty cool photos and looks like hard yakka, but I like your comment of getting into a rhythm, sounds like the right place to be. Looking at your photos I know you were always thin, but your now looking even skinnier, I think you need more of the chocolate to sustain you, especially if you go further south where it’s colder. I always keep my fat stores just for those cold days. And the food photos, they all look pretty good to me, sure beats the takeaways around Roma St.
    So hows the Spanish coming on? Have you all become fluent yet?
    Catch you later…Dave

    • Dave – nice to hear from you. I don’t think I’ve lost much weight in reality – and I’ve been eating like a horse. We are all on a steady diet of chocolate – normally 2 chocolate stops during the day and another few chunks before bed! As for the language, my Spanish is abismal. Like most people, I can ask for groceries at the corner store, but as soon as there is some complication (today it was whether I wanted my Empanadas hot or cold) then I look and sound like a fool. Fortunately everyone is very helpful and manage mostly by mime! Yes, it is sad I know, but if you’ve got to eat….

      Cheers…


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