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29/11/2013 Castro to Huillinco
D40, T3, Av15.83, max57, Tot22,674, 12,877
Overcast and cool.
The hostal provided great breakfast that I missed out on yesterday.
The trip into Puerto Montt and back took all day.
The guys at Oxford cycles did a great job repacking the bearings on the rear wheel.
Not having dismantled the bearings before. I now know there is only a plastic race on the side opposite the cassette. The front wheel has a plastic race on both sides.
The bearings just lie free on the cassette side of the rear wheel . My new bottom bracket brand is N
eco, evidently they are quite good.
Going over on the bus a couple of young school kids and I had fun with some Spanish.
We got away about 1100 and headed down Ruta 5 south of Castro.
Some trout and salmon lures were bought as we left town. They were horrendously expensive.
We took the turnoff to Cucao, this town is located on the Pacific coast.
My bike now feels like a new machine, it glides everso smoothly and imagination or not it seems easier to ascend the hills.
There was quite a bit of friction occurring between the bottom bracket and the rear wheel bearings. Some 5 km in on the road we came to the pueblito of Huillinco, here we stopped at a kiosko and bought a few things.
The owner was asked about the fishing around the shores of Lago Huillinco. he told us that down the gravel road up from his kiosko lead to a creek that flows into the lake.
Upstream from this is a trout farm. We now have google maps loaded onto to Cals
I phone, we could see it all.
It was about 1500 when we rode up the track. At the end, we crossed a paddock to the lake shore.
We found a great campsite out of the wind, it was protected by a large clump of Quila.
We set up the tents. Cal slipped down to the shore for a fish and within half an hour had a decent size Coho Salmon. Within less than half an hour this was filleted and in the pan. To say it was nice, lightly describes how good it was.
The afternoon was spent reading and oiling the cables on my bike.
Cal caught another good size fish before dusk, we let this one go.
I headed back to the pueblito for water. The lake water cannot be consumed.
The aqua culture here is a huge employment provider and income generator, unfortunately the environmental costs are huge. The Atlantic Salmon are very aggressive and when escape, subdue all native species. The rich sediment and waste from the fish farms have polluted many areas.
Salmon was first imported to Chile about a century ago. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that salmon farming in submerged cages was developed on a massive scale.
Nowadays Chile is the world’s second-largest producer of salmon, right on the tail of Norway. Puerto Montt is the epicenter of the farming and exportation industry, where, in the late 2000s, billions of dollars in investment were pushing the farming operations further south into Patagonia as far as the Strait of Magellan and the industry was expected to double in size and growth by 2020, overtaking Norway.
By 2006 salmon was Chile’s third-largest export (behind copper and molybdenum) and the future looked endlessly bright. Then the bottom dropped out. Coupled with the global recession, Chile’s salmon industry was hit hard with a sudden outbreak of Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA), first detected in 2007 at a Norwegian-owned farm, with disastrous consequences.
Between 2005 and 2010, annual Atlantic salmon production dropped from 400,000 to 100,000 tonnes; 26,000 jobs in Puerto Montt and around were lost (along with nearly US $ 3 billion) and many players in the salmon service industry went bankrupt. Chile found itself in complete salmon panic – an increase in crime in Puerto Montt and the doubling of suicide rates didn’t help matters.
But there had been signs. Veritable mountains of organic waste from extra food and salmon feces had led to substantial contamination and depletion of other types of fish; and sanitation issues and pen overcrowding were serious industry concerns for many years.
By 2012 salmon was making a comeback, with production levels on the rise, mainly thanks to an insatiable emerging market in Brazil, which overtook the USA to become the world’s second-largest global consumer of farmed Chilean salmon behind Japan in 2010.
Planet, Lonely. Lonely Planet Publications. Kindle Edition.
Later in the afternoon children came down for a fish using handlines and bait. They were catching a native fresh water species, quite large and good eating we were told.
It had been an easy day. We were in no hurry as we had 6 days to spare before getting to Quellón to catch the ferry back to the mainland.
30/11/2013 Huillinco to Cucao
D32, T3, Av1440, Max55, Tot22,706, 12909
Clear mild day, little wind
Callum was up before me, we had both had put in a pretty ordinary sleep.
He headed down for fish, with no luck.
We had a coffee and the normal porridge and raisins. Cal decided to head down for another dangle. I was just pottering about enjoying the brilliantly clear day. The sun was drying the tent perfectly.
Behind the clump of Quila, I heard a splash, Cal had just caught another fish , this time a trout.
Within 15 minutes, it was filleted, peppered and salted with salt from the Salar de Uyuni and splashed with fresh lemon juice and in the pan with butter and a little oil.
At 0900 in the morning, this was a second course parallel to none. The words, so damn nice, come to mind. It was much nicer than the salmon. The flesh though not as red had much more texture, coupled with that trout flavour.
We rode back across the paddock to the track, a well feed as any two cyclists could be.
It was twenty four kilometers to Cucao. Almost the whole passage took us around the shores of Lake Huillinco.
It was one of the most relaxing, scenic rides completed for some time.
The vegetation was lush, always allowing us glimpses of the lake to our right.
Small rural cottages many offering accommodation were in little groups along the way.
There were Buttercups, Bumblebees and Blackberry along the roadside in many places.
Stopping to look at the brilliantly yellow little buttercup flowers took my mind back to my child hood in Blenheim, New Zealand where buttercups and Bumblebees were a part of life.
We used to get the Buttercup flowers and place them close to our skin. There would be a yellow aura on our skin from the reflection.
This was a sign of anything we wanted it to be!
The Bumblebees used to spend so much time looking for just the right flower to touch down on. The Blackberry was growing as fast as it could, it looked so fresh and green. Why did it have thorns?
As children, we were transcended from all around us with these kind of wonderful distractions.
Now, at my age, again I was so transported back to those times, whilst stopped on the side of the road to ponder at the lovely little yellow beacons, and, yes there were Bumblebees looking for flowers to land on.
These special moments of recollection from all stages of my life have been made possible during this journey. They are the gifts that become available when time is not so important, where it slows down and you with it.
With this slowness, comes the opportunity to digress and connect with earlier experiences and occasions in my life.
These moments leave one rather euphoric and ever so ruminative in such a positivistic way.
Along the road, were growing other hugely foliated plants. My parents had them growing along the creek in the backyard in Christchurch, NZ.
I stopped to ask a young girl what they were. They are called Nalcas. The islanders eat the mature stems raw with sauce.
In Cucao we called into the local mercadito, on the track in a bunch of guys were drinking beer, they were fairly trashed but friendly. Whilst up at the store one of them came up for more beer.
I started chatting with him. He wouldn’t let us leave without buying us a beer. “You are in my country, this is for you”, he said
Bloody nice gesture. On the way out we gave them a big pack of potatoes chips as a return gift, they were really appreciative.
From here, we rode over the bridge and through a few kind of beach shacks and onto a gravel road.
This led us along the coast and into native lands.
The ocean could be heard, but was off to our west.
We obtained water from a house and rode on till we found a track to the beach.
A beach, it sure was, from the frontal dunes to the water line, low tide at the time, was nearly half a kilometre.
We spent time with some Aussie motor cyclists who had their camp in Ancud and were day tripping here. They were a great bunch of guys from Melbourne. They had shipped their bikes over here.
From here, we had to push our bikes along the upper part of the beach.
We found behind the dunes some kilometre down the beach away from other people, a great spot in a grassed area.
Here we set up camp, out of sight.
People were in groups on the huge open beach collecting pipis. Others were driving cars along the firm flat sand.
They were in the water, though not freezing, it was fresh. We tried to find some above the water line but had no luck.
Before nightfall, we wandered down to the surf to talk to a lady and her son fishing with a handline. They catch sharks here. Swimming was dangerous due to currents and Orcas are a common sight here.
Nalcas were growing right into the frontal dune area, they were doing it tough, nothing like the lush specimens on the roadside in the bush. Some of those had leaves a metre wide and stems as thick as baseball clubs.
As night fell a grey threatening cloud mass shrouded the hills east of us. Luckily it encroached no closer to our camp. It is normal in the early evening the fisherwoman told us.
The constant, but not rumbling sound of surf on the expansive open beach was an elixir for sleep.
1/12/2013 Beach camp to Lago Cacao
D29, T2.5/6, Av10, Max36, Tot 22,735 / 12,938
Cloudy, cold NW’er, raining pm
It had rained lightly during the night unbeknown to me, Cal had heard it.
The morning sky consisted of broken cloud. We had to man handle our bikes back across the frontal area of the dunes in the soft sand.
It had been worth it, it was a great campsite, like an oasis in the dunes, the morning was shared with grazing cattle and sheep around the locale.
Once back on the track, out of the beach, we came across a family outside their tin shack. It was no bigger than half a 20ft shipping container.
They were grouped about their home eating Nalcas, the husband was cutting wood with an axe. They may have had visitors with them. The children were eating Nalca.
We stopped for a chat. We asked to try some Nalcas, which they gladly offered to us.
It tasted like Rhubarb, quite edible I might add. They offered salt for us to dip it in.
This family appeared incredibly poor. It was cold, their house was exposed to the elements. They were probably among those collecting pipis in the sea yesterday at low tide.
They were very friendly and the children were delightful.
Riding off, contemplating the encounter. I got to thinking about this situation, it has arisen many times whilst here in South America.
It is kind of hard to explain, as it encompasses all sorts of social and other issues.
Should have I given them some money?
I thought I could have given the kids some money to buy sweets.
They did not ask for money, which to me shows they still have their pride and their way of life seemed preserved.
For me, I think, not giving them money shows my respect for them.
To me, it was more important to give them my respect and talk to them as equals, not ask silly questions that may embarrass them and most importantly not ask to take photos.
I could tell these people still had their pride and culture, regardless of superficial aspects, they enthusiastically offered Nalcas and told us all about the plant and how it was eaten.
The giving of money to these people , in this situation in my mind conveys the message that I think they are poor, hopeless people.
That someone with a few obvious material possessions of worth and from a wealthy society stops and speaks to them as equals with enthusiasm and respect, for me is a far greater gift to those people.
Not wanting to part with any money has nothing to do with it.
No matter how different or apparently poor people may seem, if they have their pride, beliefs and culture they are rich.
In Colombia in Santa Marta this situation arose, on that occasion I bought the couple a meal and shared mine with them. Importantly my respect and interest was shared with them over the meal.
In short, on most occasions, I do not give money to people, especially those in cities asking for it. Allowances are made for those with obvious health or disability problems. Though the gesture is weighed on the merit of each situation.
Whilst on this subject, I feel so sad for the Aboriginals of Australia, where I have lived for the last 26years with my family.
This is a subject that sparks all sorts of reactions.
I feel these people, firstly for the most part, have had their culture stripped from them, especially those in the urban areas.
Our government has done exactly what I did not.
They look at them and say you poor people we have robbed you of your way of life.
We can fix that for you and we will keep giving you money and other benefits. “Though don’t bother us”.
This kind of action further erodes their pride. What kind of pride would someone have when everything they own has been given to them. This is not showing them respect, it is quite the opposite. These policies are condescending and belittle ling to say the least.
Their reaction to these handouts is often their destruction. They are really trying to tell us something by these actions.
Possibly that: “We don’t want you ways, your dwellings, we want our culture, our pride, our way of life, not your money and little else.
Maybe successive governments and those on the coalface show some respect towards these people and things might change. In saying this there are many people doing this of course. Government policy and the general public’s attitude towards these people undermines them.
In the words of Goanna, an Australian Rock band of late:
“They were standing on the shore one day
Saw the white sails in the sun
Wasn’t long before they felt the sting
White man, white law, white guns
Tell me that’s justified
Somewhere someone lied, someone lied, someone lied......”
A scenario repeated in so many other colonised continents and countries
You get back what you give out.
I know the Aboriginals of Australia are a very primitive race and nomadic people, growing up in New Zealand and spending time with and sharing houses with Maoris has taught me respect.
I feel that New Zealanders on the whole have more respect for their indigenous peoples than Australians.
You could go on about this delicate topic for hours, but I wont. Other than that these people have as much to offer us we them. Our offering of money and little else, just shows our ignorance and really not wanting to address the real issues.
Talk about a side track!! We got to the little local bridge and had to wait for a farmer to bring some cattle across.
From here we road south along the coast on a really bad road, constructed of beach stones and sand.
In places it was impossible to ride, it was so steep and loose.
We were heading to Punta Bonita. Along the way we cut some Nalcas to try it, not bad again, though there must be a nack to choosing a ripe leaf.
Once over at the bay, we saw a couple of guys beach fishing on the incredibly stoney beach. Where they were sitting was 15 foot above the water. It was like a cliff down to the powerful surf.
Beach stones were packed in layers. Those that were easily moved in the surf were packed the highest.
It was like a natural gravel screening process.
We went over for a chat and ended up spending a few hours with them. They had a spare rod, which Cal used and caught a good sized fish with.
They had driven form Castro for the day. A bitterly cold nor wester was blowing, sitting on the beach saw us just get colder and colder even though frequent trips were made to the bikes to adorn further clothing.
Clouds were brewing on the western sky.
The guys said it meant rain. They were right. On leaving them, with a nice fish tucked under a cargo net, a thick wet sea mist type of rain hit the coast.
We could not find a campsite to get out of the wind so we headed back.
The hills coming in here were so steep, Cal had to help me push my bike up, just getting foot traction in the loose surface was hard work.
By now we were drenched, though still comfortable.
Once back in Cucao we took the road back to Ruta 5, in the hope of finding a campsite out of the wind and on the lake.
A brilliant grassed site on the lake shore was found at a vacant lot.
We put the tarp up in case we got more rain.
Dinner was a three course delight of fried potatoes, then fresh fish followed by soup and carnita. It was all washed down with coffee and mate.
The rain did cease for awhile but returned later in the evening.
2/12/2013 Near Cucao to Agoni
D68, T4/7, Av 14.69, Max 75, Tot 22802, 13,005
Overcast, sun one minute raining the next and cold
It had rained during the night, I had to get up to tighten the tarp to make sure it was not puddling. In the morning we had a great sleep in till about 1000 and finally got away about twelve. All our gear had dried out.
In was an unreal ride back to Ruta 5.
We had just the best westerliy pushing us along. Hills were seemingly easy.
My Golden Eagle feather enjoyed the “flight” as much as I did.
Back on Ruta 5 we went towards Castro for half a k and turned right. This road was going to take us to Conchi and on to Quellén.
For the last couple of days, a tooth has been giving me hard time so we pulled into a dentist here and he filled the hole on the spot. Interestingly he had done his training in Guayaquil in Ecuador, he had been in Chile practisibg for 10 years.
With this done we headed to the foreshores of the town and had bread with salami and cheese. Or at least Cal did. I was not allowd to eat solids for 2 hours so Yoghurt was drunk.
With my totally numb mouth it was a pretty dribbly experience trying to drink the yoghurt.
I am beginning to think the all these rough roads are shaking the fillings out of my teeth. This is my fourth trip to a dentist.
Three fillings and a crown, and still costing less than one filling at home in Coffs Harbour.
From here we rode on, the road was extremely hilly, l though only short climbs and back down again, so characteristic of cycling here on Chiloé.
Some twenty km from Quellén, we turned off to the road to Agoni on the east coast.
It was gravel and had some steep climbs, to steep to ride on the round river stones.
The rain was on and off, one minute soaking, the next the sun was out. The common denominator was the temperature, it was cold.
Dropping down into Agoni on the gravel we arrived at a remote settlement of about 20 dwellings.
There were polystyrene floats everywhere on the foreshore from mussel farms. It was quite a mess.
Some were so big you could only get a couple in a pickup.
It was wet and we were cold. The only spot to camp was in the grounds of the catholic church, this we did.
I got water from a house, the lady told me this weather is totally normal.
We are both feeling like we need to leave the island, we have seen much of it. It is a waiting game for the ferry from Quellón to Chaitén.
Dinner was rice, tuna and sauce, mighty fine and filling.
The old church at the camping spot was a sight to be seen. It was huge by other building standards in the settlement.
It had the timber slat walls and the classic Chiloé church turret at the front.
We were lucky we had the awning of the futbol club house to cook under. It was a damp place.
4/12/2013 Agoni to Quellón
D24, T2, Av14, Max66, Tot 22826, 13029
Overcast with showers.
Again it had rained overnight. Things outside were very damp and not drying atany noticeable rate.
We were thankful for our little bit of shelter.
Last night a guy aad a woman came to drop some sand off for a tomb they are building in the cemetery.
These people are used to handling heavy weights, these bags were almost impossible for 3 people to lift.
Weary of how important my back is at the moment, I helped but only to a point. The woman was a strong as an ox.
Heading off we took the same track in, however someone told us to take the other road. It was in much better condition.
Whilst taking a photo on the bridge and heading off one of my gloves must have fallen in the stream off the bike.
A walk back only found one.
We rode the 24km to Queilín and enjoyed a great mussel soup in a waterfront restaurant.
By now it was raining and a bitter wind was driving in off the heavily farmed bay.
We had a window seat in the rustic little place.
We had made the decision to catch buses to Quellón for the ferry to Chaitén.
This would involve catching one to Conchi then another.
This ferry only leaves one day a week to the mainland. We did not want to miss it.
Half the trip was back tracking the other half on Ruta 5.
This Ruta 5 on its arrival at Quellón officially marks the end of the famous Pan American highway.
The original starting place for the mainly conceptual Pan American Highway is supposed to be in the very small Alaskan town of Circle. This town is located about 90 miles west of the Canadian border and about 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Since the early 1990's, most people have started their southern bound journey from a more northern point on the Dalton Highway near the Deadhorse on the shores of the Beaufort Sea.
The Pan-American Highway (Portuguese: Rodovia / Auto-estrada Pan-americana, Spanish: Autopista / Carretera / Ruta Panamericana) is a network of roads measuring about 48,000 kilometres (30,000 mi) in total length. Except for a rainforest break of approximately 100 km (60 mi), called the Darién Gap, the road links almost all of the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system. According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world's longest "motorable road". However, because of the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between South America and Central America by traditional motor vehicle.
The Pan-American Highway passes through many diverse climates and ecological types, from dense jungles, to arid deserts, to cold mountain passes. Since the highway passes through many countries, it is far from uniform. Some stretches of the highway are passable only during the dry season, and in many regions driving is occasionally hazardous. Wikipedia
Though a common denominator on the way south it was little used, except in Costa Rica and Panama where little choice was offered.
It was nice to be on the bus in such dodgey weather.
The road from Conchi to Quellón was just a series of road works encounters.
Once in Quellón the first thing we did was buy tickets on the ferry.
Thirty six dollars each for the 5 hour passage. It leaves at 1830 and will get us into Chaitén late that night.
Arriving in Quellón one couldn’t help notice the run down nature of the town, described as a Salmon epicentre.
Along the water front where our hospedaje the Mira is were groups of men looking like they had little to do.
Equally there were groups of dogs that looked more occupied.
The hospedaje we are staying at is so homely the rooms are comfy. Anyone taller than callum though would be hitting the low ceilings.
It is a full timber construction with at least three slow wood burners.Knowing most heating here is using wood burners and having observed quite a few dwellings that have been destroyed by fire.
We chose a room overlooking the bay with big windows or at least as big as you could get in a five foot nine wall.
The need to exit rapidly incase of fire was paramount.
Our extended time on Chiloé has been enjoyable. Especially, Cucao and the pacific coast.
Looking across the pacific one would be at the same latitude as Ashburton in NZ south of Christchurch or 60 miles south of Hobart, in Tasmania.
Almost all vistas were rural, with small dwellings most with smoke rising from a stainless steel chimney. The most common plants were Gorse and Broom. The most common bird was a close relative to the Sour Winged Plover.
Most bays on the eastern shore were filled with aquaculture enterprises.
It was a great expeience to have been here, they say it is different from the rest of Chile. In the more remote areas and small towns it most definitely is.
It is nice to be in the room and showered. After 5 damp days things in the tent at night, especially the air were a little less than desirable I might add.
We had some boiled eggs the other day for breakfast. They caused a draught from the back of my pants for at least 24 hours.
I will be refraining from these in the future, partly due to Callums requests.