What an enormous bird enjoying Christmas sun!

I don’t really celebrate 25 of December much. Unless something great happens – I tend to celebrate something good rather than days on the calendar. Oh something amazing just happened – yeah, but it’s 22 of December, so who cares 🙁 Nothing happened at all, but it’s 25th December, lets celebrate!

What does happen here quite often is that the weather is amazing most days. And today was no exception.

So I took my bike for a bit of exploring and on purpose went to the areas I’ve never been before. Just being childishly curious – I wonder what if I take this turn to a little road or gravel path?

After one of these turns I went past a few houses in the middle of nowhere and something moved in one of the gardens. I stopped, turned around and there was a huge Ostrich looking at me.

I keep telling myself that I should really take my proper camera with me on these rides, but unfortunately only had my phone on me… Still an interesting moment and a bad picture

Do the solar panels really work indoors?

Yes, solar panels do work indoors! It doesn’t happen often, but time to time you still have power outages in Chile. I experienced them in all parts of the country. In the beautiful capital Santiago, in Valdivia and all the way south to Coyhaique. It is always very short, never more than an hour, but sometimes unexpected and sometimes a little annoying. Since I am prepared for wild camping during this crazy adventure, I always have power bank or two just in case. Today we had power outage in Coyhaique. I decided to try my solar panels indoors rather than using power banks. Not that I was desperate, but I just wanted to try as the sky was clear and the sun was shining directly trough my window.

Solar panel indoors charging amazon kindle

It worked better that I was expecting and my kindle was charging pretty fast!

Genesis Longitude in the snow

In the last few weeks I started to cycle more and more again. I can stay inside with my laptop for days, but I also have this strong feeling about exploring being outside, doing exercise.

And it started to snow here in Patagonia! Coyhaique is covered in snow. Another incentive to go for a ride. The good thing is that even if it is snowing, the temperatures are not very low. No ice under the snow. Enough grip for my massive WTB tyres. You can feel a slide here and there sometimes. But it is nothing like you get on a muddy cyclocross race in late autumn in England. Oh an the tyre on CX bike is probably half the width than on Genesis Longitude.

So that is what I did – went out on “The Tank” and enjoyed Patagonian winter.

Side note on WTB Trailblazer 2.8 tyres on WTB sti wheels. They are tubeless and filled with Stans no tubes sealant. The last time I remember using the pump was in January – exactly 6 months ago. And I only did that because I was using lower pressure for gravel road crossing from Chile into Argentina. After that the road was smooth tarmac again I decided to go with the higher pressure.

That is how good they are holding air!

Just make me guapo!

It feels so good to have my first haircut since February! I went to hairdresser recommended by people who lived here when I first arrived to this hostel in Coyhaique. That is in Patagonia. Which is in Chile. And is stunningly beautiful place.

So I was on my daily exercise walk – take some big plastic bottles filled with water, stick them into a backpack, put your face mask on and go for a walk! Believe it is not easy when you are in Patagonia – it is never flat!

On the way back I saw that the hairdressers/barber place was open! And at the end of May it is like flashing lights when the last time you had your haircut was in February…

Streets of Coyhaique

I just said – make me guapo. And that’s the only word the lady understood ? She and all other people waiting were laughing ? Nobody was afraid that I am foreign. Laughing, smiling and asking me things on translation app where the fuck that Lithuania is and what language people speak there!

I am still far from guapo, but I look a bit like a human now 🙂

La Junta, where the thing of 2020 hit the fan…

I was hearing from friends and relatives about this THING spreading in Europe. Here in Chile it was still quite calm – people are more worried about recent protests than some virus. Patagonia being one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world felt safe place to be. Very limited access with the only Chilean land access being Route 7 or better known as South road, Carretera Austral. Argentinian authorities closed borders with neighboring countries, including Chile very quickly.

When I arrived to the place I booked earlier the news were already in but opposite to European madness things were still very calm here. No shortage of toilet paper.

Warm welcome by the owners. The place is very nice. And then they show me around a massive kitchen that I can use. Ran to a little supermarket nearby and got going with some cooking. Nothing special, just warm food with about a billion calories! That’s what I need!

papas-egg-bacon
This is going to be sooo good! Finally a big kitchen at my disposal

In the only other non empty room at the place was staying an English/American cycling couple. I met them at the breakfast. They were a little stressed as they both had cold – not what you want when you are foreign tourist and local media is shouting that there is deadly disease coming from abroad… They took the first available bus to Coyhaique and then flew from Balmaceda airport.

I was to stay in Patagonia for a bit longer…

New puppy friend in Puerto Montt

Costanera Puerto Montt. I was just sitting by the sea enjoying the sun and the views. Then out of nowhere came this little fellow, jumped on my legs and sat there for a few minutes. Completely ignoring the call from his owners. I even had enough time to grab my phone and make a selfie. I wonder if it’s because I’m starting to look like Santa?

My bicycle is protected by friendly dogs of Puerto Varas

Before South American trip I was a little worried about abundance of stray dogs in Chile. I visited the country before and was a little surprised by the number of dogs on the streets anywhere outside Santiago. They are everywhere!

I was preparing mentaly and physically to meet them on my travel. By physically I mean I went to a pet shop and bought some dog threats 🙂

But I was nicely surprised how stray dogs really do not care about you most of the time. Ok, when the sun starts going down they become more scared and some start chasing you, but during the day they just lay by the side of the road and ignore you.

The further I went on my trip the more often I realised that my bike attracts lots of very friendly dogs. And then it hit me – I have these nice and smelly dog treats in my Apidura food pouch! I am sure it is impossible to a dog, especialy a hungry dog not to smell them, so like in Puerto Varas, my bike was always guarded by a few local friends 🙂

It’s my dream!

Today I was very late to pick up my clothes and backpack and everything else washable from a laundry in Panguipulli. Great service, but price close to England! It’s ok – according to people at the reception of my holiday home where I was staying, it was maybe the only place in town. After that had a long phone call with the family while was waiting for someone to serve me at the Restaurant y pizzeria Florencia.

A nice bit of meat, some pure, a beer (im in Chile, you know) and a plus size bike loaded with too many things

When I was finishing that nice steak a family of four walked past. The father said something in spanish to his teenage son pointing at my fully loaded bike. They all had a chat and decided to stay at the same restaurant. The man kept looking at my bike and then again saying something to his son.
After a while he turned to me and said something in Spanish. I replied with my usual “poco español”. He thought for a few moments and then pointing to my Gensis Longitude said in in English – it’s my dream! I did’t know what should I say back and just answered what I thought was a very honest answer – Just do it! (Nike should pay me something for that, come on!)
The man made this very sad face as we all do when we are kids when we are not allowed something and pointed his finger at his wife. We all started laughing, including his wife 🙂
The kids could speak quite a good English so them being translators we had a good chat about bike touring and where I’m planning to go next.

Happy new year! Picked up by a pick up truck. And the ugly Los Lagos

After the steep gravel bits were behind me I started to enjoy great weather, the views of beautiful Calle-Calle river and finally a smooth tarmac.

Río Callecalle
Calle-Calle River

My destination was Los Lagos. Cycling friends who went the opposite way and whom I met in Valdivia told me that Los Lagos was just an ugly grim place with not many shops or places to sleep. Not what I was expecting. There are two different things – what you read on the Internet and what is real! On the Internet it wasn’t looking that bad!
I was carrying my tent – they did not, so I felt safe. But they were right. The place was ugly. Probably still is.
The guy from AirBnB texted me telling that there was as mistake and there is already someone staying in the room I booked. Nice.
I asked if he knows any nearby campsites. Nope. But he said I can camp in his garden. Good option as it was already starting to get dark.
Then I had to stop at the temporary traffic lights because of some bridge repairs. On the intersection of three major roads.
Stuck in traffic on a bicycle FFS! People were out of their cars, walking around, chatting. Since I was going opposite direction some asked how long is this jam. About 5km according to my Garmin eTrex 30 GPS… Then further into the madness I saw a little car flashing lights. I stopped.
It was the guy from AirBnB. He was waiting in that queue trying to find me. We loaded all my heavy bags into his little car. But there was no room for my bicycle.
He told me it’s only a couple kilometers and he will leave his car on the side of the road so it is easier for me to find the place.
Such a relief – I have a place to camp and I do not have to carry anything on my bicycle. My heavy bicycle felt like a Formula 1 car!
Then suddenly another car is flashing lights. I stop – hey! Es mi amigo. This time with a big pickup truck! He put my Genesis into the back of his pickup, pointed to me to get in and just shouted – vamos!

Genesis Longitude on top of the logs. But who cares.

The owner showed me a grass pitch in his garden and asked if it’s good enough. Then left and came back with a light so it would be easier for me to pitch the tent, gave instructions for the next day and left.

As soon as the tent was up a curious little dog came out of nowhere to check who is that stranger 🙂 Looks like everyone in Chile has at least one, especially in rural areas.

Curious little dog checking who is this stranger in his area

Feeling Special In A Very Weird Way

Some people like the time around Christmas because of being with their family, receiving or giving presents, not having to go to work, eating and drinking too much. Normal stuff.

I’m alone on my own in Southern Spain and it is 2020, so these normal things are a bit out of reach.

But this one day I almost jumped into the air! I walk into my local Aldi and they have brussels sprouts! They must have Christmas thing here too. Or maybe there are so many British expats that it makes it profitable to sell them for a week or so 🙂 It was more than a year… Got as much as I thought I could fit in my backpack. Girl at the checkout gave me a strange look. But I really really like brussels sprouts! Weirdo.