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.
It worked better that I was expecting and my kindle was charging pretty fast!
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.
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…
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
Since I booked my flight from Santiago to Valdivia some time ago it was supposed to be an easy relaxing day. It was not. I woke up a little late after going to Club 23 bar the night before. And I maybe had one cocktail too many. No, I think I didn’t. But that was fine as it was planned. First thing after I woke up was trying to pack the bike. When you know you only got enough stuff to carry on the bike you don’t stress about that much. It doesn’t take too much time.
I took the box outside and started disassembling the bike. The man came to watch. We had a chat. An American. In a dessert camo clothes. You could tell from the army. Flew back last night from Afghanistan. Used to do bike touring himself in “young days” and was impressed with the size of WTB Trailbrazer 28 tyres. By the time I finished packing the bike his friend arrived and they left. Apparently his hotels are paid for him and he was leaving for a little more posh option.
As my friend suggested I ordered the more expensive version of Cabify for the trip to the airport as they normally have bigger cars. Yep, the car was easily big enough and only about 28000 pesos. Really good price for the journey. I paid about twice the opposite direction. The catch – neither Cabify nor Uber(I think Uber is illegal in Santiago, but apparently still exist) allowed to drop you off at the airport drop off place. I only know this because the diver spoke to my phone while waiting in a traffic jam. And the phone tried to translate it.
So a bus ride to the airport from somewhere I don’t know. I didn’t know how much is going to cost.
Luckily the bus was free – I was dropped at the official airport car park. Cabify driver helped to take THE BOX onto the bus. Then while already driving on a tight corner the box hit some other passenger, but he was ok. Just grumpy.
A little late at the airport, but it’s fine it is a domestic flight. The girl at SKY counter asked me to put me the box on the scales… and boy I was happy that they didn’t weight back home at Heathrow! Paid some $$ for exes weight. Went trough security with almost no trouble – they always stop me because of the laptop, cameras, chargers, batteries and amount of cables I carry.
And so I was sitting on the floor at gate 28 of Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. Or Santiago International Airport. Finally relaxed. With a beer that had my destination written on it 🙂
Top tip – don’t worry that Valdivia airport is more that 35km away from actual Valdivia. At the airport there are so many taxi services competing. With extra charge for my bike box I paid 18000 🙂
The hostel I was staying in Santiago has some bicycles that are free to use for those staying there. Wasn’t sure about them being single speed, but decided to give one a go anyway.
All paperwork sorted – there was a fair bit, deposit paid. I added my Garmin and bottle cage as you have to drink a bit when there’s 30 degrees outside and you are cycling. And the I went to explore a bit of Santiago. No direction, no route planned. Just going the opposite direction from the famous Plaza Baquedano as told by the locals.
I don’t think I ever ridden a bike with such skinny tyres – maybe 20mm max maybe even less 🙂 I was worried to get pinch flats all the time, but roads and especially cycling paths in Santiago are quite good so I was fine.
One thing for sure, in Santiago, and I image the rest of the Chile you probably need more than one gear to really enjoy it.