Even though we had a wonderful time in Santiago with Maria and her family I was getting antsy and needed to move on. Saturday we took a trip with the family to Pomaire, a small town outside of Santiago famous for pottery and ceramics. What a shame that I couldn’t buy anything!! After a big lunch (with lots of meat!) we drove to the coast, strolled along the beaches of Las Cruces and returned to Santiago in the evening.
I could barely wait until Monday to go back to the public clinic, have my leg wound checked and get the okay from them to continue our trip. Everything was packed and ready, the wound was looking much better and I knew I could now take care of it, so we left Santiago on Monday.
We made it to an area just south of Los Angeles, saw a sign on the highway about a hotel and followed that into a town called Mulchen. We found the hotel but realized that it was just way over our budget and on the way trying to find a different hotel we stopped at the town plaza. A gentleman approached us and asked if we needed help and when we said we were looking for a place to sleep he answered that he also has a BMW at home and if we wanted to stay at his place he could offer us his guestroom. Bingo, there was the answer to our problem. How nice of him! We followed him home. He had to leave for another 2 hours and said we should get settled and feel like home! Incredible, and we were strangers to him!
We had a great time, got lots of tips from him, he made us breakfast next day and we left having experienced a real Chilean hospitality. From there we turned east again towards Argentina. We knew we couldn’t cross the border in one day so we stopped in Lonquimay. By then we almost felt we were at the foot of the Alps. Lots of wooden chalets, forests of Araucarias (typical for this area), wide blooming pastures with cattle and horses etc. all surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the Volcano Lonquimay. We found the simple and not very clean Hostel” Su Casa”, after several other Hostels were booked solid. Oh well, just for one night!
Another border crossing was on the agenda for the next day. The landscape remained beautiful but the closer we got to Argentina the less green it was and beyond the border it was all “Pampa” again. Our goal though was to get to the “District of 7 lakes”, which is supposedly also very beautiful. To get there we had to cross this pampa, which at first was real Argentinian with gauchos on their horses herding cattle and also horses. We even saw a Rhea (cousin of the Ostrich but smaller) with at least 15 little ones.
In the afternoon we had to stop for gas in Junin de los andes the north end of the lake district. At the gas station we met Michael and Anja, a German couple currently on one bike (KTM), because they had some mechanical trouble. In fact, both of their KTM’s had trouble and they took one apart to fix the other one so they had at least one for transportation. They were staying at a nearby campground and invited us to join them. This worked out well for us, since we were looking for a place to stay overnight anyway.
We had a fun evening, but the biggest coincidence was that Anja had learned to become a midwife at the same hospital in Germany, where I had worked for several years before coming to Canada. We both knew the same people who worked there and shared a lot of laughs and memories. What a coincidence!
Next day we said our good-byes. They were waiting for some parts for their bikes, they had to go and pick up across the border in Osorno, Chile, so they were staying put for one more day.
We continued our travels further south. In San Martin de los Andes we were lucky to get some cash money from the ATM machine. Michael and Anja had told us, that it had been a real problem to get any cash at all. They had tried for several days, stood in line for hours but then the ATM machines were simply empty. This seems to be a problem throughout the smaller towns in Argentina, so hopefully we have some better luck with our US dollars.
The “ruta de los siete lagos” was just beautiful. We were lucky with the weather and finally stopped at Lake Villarino at a free campground with great view of the mountains. Lots of volcanos around and the areas showed signs of activity with tree skeletons and lots of volcanic ash everywhere.
The plan for the next day was to ride to the end of this lake district and follow the road to the Chilean border again to go to Osorno. The border was very busy and when we came the line-up was, I think, more than 1 km, but Heinz just made his way right to the front and we squeezed in at the front (I felt really bad!), otherwise we would have been there for hours! We still had to get into another line for more than an hour at the Argentinean side to get our bikes signed out.( I thought we would be in the system by now, but…no!) By late afternoon we reached Osorno and also Motoaventura, a bike shop, where I wanted my front tire changed. It was still a good tire, but overall not well enough to finish the trip. Again we bumped into another biker. Achim from Germany, who we had met with his friend Uwe at the border of Peru/Bolivia a couple of weeks ago. He was raving about the place, where they were staying. It is run by a Chilean/Swiss couple nearby and after he phoned them and checked with them, we had our next place to stay. So we followed him to the place where we are staying now. It is awesome, swiss style, called Zapato Amarillo-yellow shoe- with wooden interiors and…grass on the roofs! Their garden almost looks like paradise and on a non-cloudy day you can see the Volcano Osorno in the distance. Nadia (Chilean) and Armin (swiss) are wonderful and sweet and…the food is extraordinary!!
So we seem to be a magnet for German people, ha,ha…I wonder why!!
We will stay here until tomorrow and then continue our travels on the famous Carretera Austral south in Chile. We might not have WiFi on a regular basis any more so just a FYI to everyone! Until then we will share one or two beers with Uwe and Achim!!