I thought my days by the Pacific were over after the unrivaled shitfest of my Peruvian sojourn, but I just couldn’t resist giving it one more shot. There was no way this coastal venture could be worse than that, but then sitting in a bathtub of milk with Piers Morgan would be preferable to another trip to Barranca. I didn’t know a lot about the Chilean coast as it’s not too well traveled by gringo cyclists but after weeks stuck on La Cuarenta I was game for a bit of adventure so off I went.
Well, I can safely say made the right choice in crossing over to Chile. My two weeks here have not been the most memorable or exciting but in terms of cycling it’s been the closest thing I’ve had to a holiday. As it turns out coastal Chile is basically England with more hills and better weather and I’ve been treated to fresh sea breezes, quaint seaside towns, verdant countryside and mile after mile of pine scented forest road. The hills, while tough, have kept me entertained and provided a welcome respite from the boring flats of Northern Argentina. They’ve also given me a serious workout and I’ve never been in better shape.
It hasn’t all been great, though. While I’ve met some good people along the way, conversation has been scarce. I’ve been forever smiling and nodding at strangers throughout this whole trip but a lot of Chilenos just stared at me as blankly as the cows in the fields chewing their cud. As such I’ve become more selective with my friendliness of late. Internet access has been scarce in the coastal villages so I haven’t been on couchsurfing and as I’ve strayed from the typical route I haven’t met a single other cyclist. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken less in my life. Outside of swearing my way up hills and the occasional madman ramble to myself I’ve probably averaged like 200 words a day.
That evening I spilled wine on my laptop rendering the ‘a’ key useless, then my phone, feeling left out, decided to put itself into a coma . In the space of 3 hours I’d lost
my books, my maps, my podcasts and the letter ‘a’*. I couldn’t even tell the time without turning on my laptop.
I tried to see the positives. I’d go analogue. I’d buy a real life map and read books with actual pages like… practically every other cycle tourist ever. And without podcasts I could finally dedicate myself to appreciating jazz and listening to War and Peace (god, I’m such a cliche). The letter ‘a’ though. That was a big loss. Let’s just say that writing this blog took more copying and pasting than any human being should ever have to endure.
I am now safely ensconced in Pucon under the shadow of a volcano where I shall buy some boots and bike stuff in preparation for my return to Argentina through the Andes. My phone, excited by this news, has awoken from its coma.
Bring on Patagonia, baby!
Tunes: Blondie – Parallel Lines, Cyndi Lauper – Greatest Hits, The Band – Music From Big Pink, David Bowie – Hunky Dory, Talking Heads – Remain In Light, The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash
Reads: War & Peace – Leo Tolstoy, In Patagonia – Bruce Chatwin, Isabel Allende – Tales of Eva Luna