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!
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.
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.
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!
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.