2011/02/18: 64 km to Puerto Varas
We took the boat back across the river, and rode — first on gravel, later on asphalt– to Puerto Varas on Lake Llanquihue. We did most of this in the good company of Christian and Raul. At a fresh juice stop, we met our first (domesticated) llamas, and post a photo of one here especially for my nephew for whom we hope it brings back fond memories of his time in Bolivia.
Puerto Varas is the more tourist oriented alternative to industrial Puerto Montt, and since many hostels were full by the time we arrived, we camped -for a small fee- in the garden which served as overflow for one of them.
Chris’s well-travelled pedals had begun to make a clicking sound. We made inquiries at the tourist office about a bike shop, and learned there was a decent one in Puerto Montt.
2011/02/19: 84 km to Chacao on Chiloe
We rode to the bike shop in Puerto Montt, arriving before it closed for the afternoon. Lucky for us, because it would likely not reopen till Monday morning. We bought Chris some basic Shimano SPD pedals, and tucked into a grilled salmon lunch in celebration of having reached the Pacific.
After lunch, we followed the coast through a busy harbour area, and walked our bikes up a hill on which we think a truck and spilled fish oil …. a new hazard to test the unwary cyclist. We reached the short ferry crossing to Chiloe in the evening. and fell into conversation with a young Uraguayan couple, Laura and Juan Andres, who were travelling by bus.We ended up camping with them in a tiny garden in Chacao. We were arriving too late to be choosy, the price was right and the company was good.
2011/02/20: 58 Km to Puniguill and Penguins
We rode to Ancud, and inquired about visiting the penguin colonies on the west coast. On the advice of the non-cyclist tourist office lady, we rode west on horrendous gravel roads, pushing our bikes up many of the hills. We made it to the cabanas which we had reserved from Ancud, but the tourist office lady was definitely persona non grata by the time we arrived. The evening meal in a restaurant overlooking the beach restored our spirits, though.
2011/02/21: 3km and bus back to AncudAfter breakfast, we joined 4 Chileans and a German tour group for for a boat tour of the rocky islets where Magellanic and Humbolt penguins spend almost half the year. In March and April, the Magellanics will migrate south to colder waters and the endangered Humbolts will migrate north to warmer waters. They were easy enough to see at this time of year, because they’re moulting and cannot swim.Chris and I were sitting in the bow, and a wave came over as we moved out through the surf. So any of our clothing not already foul with sweat was salty with seawater! Our need to do laundry is getting dire.
We rode the 2 km back to a junction, having been told the local bus back to Ancud would accept our bikes, so we could avoid doing the loose gravel a second time. The small bus duly accommodated us, and our offer of extra payment was refused despite the fact that our gear took up many extra seats and cramped other passengers at times.
Back in Ancud, we found digs, and had supper at a cafe that specialized in dishes made from papas nativas — native potatoes. I knew the potato originated in South America, but apparently there are two very specific points of origin which have been traced: one high in the Andes in Peru, the other here in Chiloe. The Spaniards first tried to cultivate the high altitude variety in Spain, and their efforts bore very little success. The varieties from Chiloe which they later tried were much more successful, and the young woman who ran the restaurant claimed that nearly all the spuds now cultivated in Europe and North America are descendants of papas nativas from here. Her assertion rang true, and in fact jives with the Wikipedia entry for potato.