After about two months in Argentina on Route 40, I crossed the boarder back into Chile at Futaleufu accompanied by Mariano (Nano) and Guillermo.
We were lucky to get a sunny day after hearing about the long stretch of rainy days. Nevertheless, at the end of the first day, the rain came out to christen our ride on the infamously wet Carretera Austral (CA). Luckily, we found refuge in a barn occupied by every farm animal know to man. I had no idea up until now that these animals talk all night long. The roosters only slept after they had done their job of keeping us awake all night!
The next day it rained the entire 40 miles. I was cool with it because it reminded me of home. The trick is to try to stay dry and not get to cold. That’s when your troubles begin.
The Carretera Austral (Route 7) is a road that runs through Chile’s remote Patagonia region. It runs approximately 770 miles (1,240 k) from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. Construction of the road began in 1976 under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and was completed in 2000, although much of it is still not paved. Military men were sent to do much of the work and populated the towns along the way. As a result, people in this region are more or less loyal to the former dictator. In La Junta there is a big sign honoring the former general as you enter the town. The new government in Santiago wanted to take it down, but the people of La Junta rose up in protest and the sign remains.
So far in Chile, I’ve been able to do two spontaneous interviews. I interviewed a native Chilean from the Indigenous group called, Huilliche, in Southern Chile and a woman from Coyhaique who is a poetic seamstress. Aha! I piqued your interest. Now you will have to watch the official “documentary” to hear what “poetic seamstress” actually means and what Valentin has to say about the world that has developed around him!
Finally, about a month ago, Nano invited me to join him and his friend Guillermo on their ride through the “Siete Lagos” region. I had a blast with them. Guillermo left a couple days ago to finish his trip in Santiago and then off to ride through Cuba with his girlfriend. When he left he gave me his prized possession which I have coveted throughout the ride…his whipala! A whipala is a flag that represents the original pueblos of the Americas (ok, yes it does slightly look like a gay rights flag. It’ a two-for-one deal!). Gracias Guillermo, you’re a doll!