Chilean encounters

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Alex the intrepid

With a beautiful sunshine and an oppressive heat, we used the path leading us to San Augustin to reach a bit further the “hobbit” house of Alexander. By hearing the Ural’s engines, he came to escorte us for the last kilometre with his Ural “retro solo”. We crossed a ford, the last difficulty of our journey, before to enter in his property.

Alex is born in Switzerland and lives in Chile for many years. He built his house by following plans of the “Eco-dome” houses from the Iranian-born architect Nader Khalili. Next to his house, three containers which are actually his workshop, warehouse and garage.

It was 2pm when we crossed the portal of his property. We spent the rest of the day chatting about the travel, the Ural sidecars and his hectic life ; by going from a container to another one before to seat down with a delicatessen board.

Here, the life is simple and organised around the sun and the elements of nature. The waking up is made with the birds singing, the electricity is provided by the solar panels, the water is coming from the river running a few metres further away. 

We followed his usual daily life during these four days spent with him. No long speeches or big preoccupations, but more spontaneity and actions. As such, we celebrated New Year’s Eve with his neighbours, then we did some mechanics on the 1st of January to go to the moto club of Valpraiso the following day as he invited us. When it was time to say goodbye at this nice port city, our roads split. He went back to San Augustin, while we were heading towards Patagonia.

Rémy & Morgan, the Frenchiesonwheels

It was around 11:30pm when we left the Valpraiso moto club to go back to the hostel by sidecars. After we parked them in the little courtyard of the Villa Kunterbunt, thinking we will go back to our room, Rémy and Morgan, the two French guys from “Frenchiesonwheels” offered us a can of Escudo beer to share. With the stories and journeys of everyone, plus the tens of jokes, the time was going as fast as the stock of beers got lower. Very tired but with our mind full of dreams, we went to bed.

With a lot of enthusiasm we met them again the following evening ; after exploring Valparaiso while they were doing the maintenance of their DR, old motorbikes with an unusual look which brought them from France to Sidney before to reach Valparaiso, their point of departure for discovering South of America.

For our last evening in “Valpo”, we shared together a delicious “parilla” (Chilean barbecue) prepared by Martina’s son, our host, served with Escudo beer and Chilean wines.

Cristian & his friends from the Chillán moto club 

After a big day on the monotonous highway of Ruta 5, we met Cristian at a rest area, a few kilometres away from Chillán. He follows our adventures on the social media. When we saw that we will cross his city, he sent us a message to meet us.

We arranged this meeting at the Petrobras petrol station, before Chillán. A few minutes after our arrival, we have been surprised when we saw a small yellow BMW side-car arriving. Cristian was accompanied by two of his friends from the moto club of the city.

The presentations done, they escorted us up to the town center where they invited us to discover a local speciality: the “mote com huesillo”. A drink with as much to drink as to eat. This includes peach, syrup and wheat. We continued by visiting the cathedral of the city with a modern and unusual egg-shape architecture. This reminds the architecture of the Brasilia city.

After bringing us back to the end of the city, our ways split. We went back on the road towards South while they were preparing a trekking for the following day.

Adrian & his bicycle in Patagonia

Upon our arrival in Chaitén, the rain did not stop. We stopped our engines in front of the Tierra Vida campsite, located in the middle of the village. The owners offers the possibility to the travellers of setting up a camp in their garden. They built bathrooms with a small kitchen next to their house. Under the heavy rain, we needed a good coordination within the team to insure setting up the tents by avoiding to get the inside of tents wet as much as we can. Sheltered and warming up in the small kitchen, we shared the evening with other backpackers travelling as well on the “Carratera Austral”. Each one as his each own means of transport (by foot, bicycle, motorbike) and his own travel stories.

Adrian was exploring Patagonia with his bicycle and his girlfriend from Argentina to Puerto Montt. Both of them are physical education teachers in Argentina, they enjoyed the school holidays for travelling. We exchanged precious advice with some maté and Pisco. This moment was warming up our bodies and hearts.

Ricardo from la Nutria

After a day on the road, we were exhausted when we reached the small village of Puerto Rio Tranquilo. Small break, we bought a couple of things in the little market for dinner. We did the last 20 kilometres in the dust to reach the campsite recommended by other bikers. But 20 additional kilometres after a day like this one, it was like hell. But it was a little heaven waiting for us out there. Beret and a neat beard, Ricardo welcomed us warmly. 

After this hard day, it was not the end of our efforts as when we set up our tents, one of our tent pegs pierced the main water pipe for bathrooms which was dig a few centimetres deep in the soil. In a twist of fate, we became friends with Ricardo, with our hands in the soil trying to fix the leak of the pipe. 

As he needed to go to Puerto Rio Tranquilo for the evening, he offered us to share the following day our travel experiences during a “Pisco Party”. 

After a day spent on the Exploradores glacier, it’s with an inside fire and a bowl of popcorn that we met Eicardo at the dusk. Ricardo told us his experience, his advice and his secrets about Chilean Patagonia and Argentina. He did around 40 000 kilometres, on the Southern tracks on his old motocross bike KLR. We shared this moment with beers and pesto pasta before to taste the Pisco del Carmen.

When we woke up, we enjoyed the house speciality: the Churrasco. A generous meal before kayaking to visit the Capilla de Marmol. With his boina (Argentinian beret) still on the head, Ricardo was our guide. He told us legends about this lake and the geological formation of this unique place. 

Kayaks put on the beach, clothing drying on the front of the sidecars and the last hill climb up to go back on the Carratera Australe ; and our roads split. Ricardo were going back to La Nutria campsite while we were going back to Cochrane, still towards South…