Madaru moto - motorbike adventures in South America

Day 55: Because I went to bed early, I woke up early. Here is a long-exposure taken before the sun rose.

Bored, I hooked up my Drift 170 cam and Ricoh battery charger to one of the USB outlets I installed on the front electrical box. Their LEDs glowed eerily in the darkness.

Wandering around the campsite, I discovered an AC power outlet that was live. So I powered up my Durabook and let it do a bit of WCG crunching.

I hooked up my Durabook and snuck in a few hours of number crunching on behalf of BOINC research.

Soon it was light, I hit the road. 

Just as I was leaving, the campground, I passed two stockmen herding cattle. Although I waved at them, they just stared at me like I was an alien. 

To me, this looked alien:

At one point I passed a huge, spectacular iron railway bridge, painted yellow. It was the Viaducto de Malleco, more than a century old and a national monument in Chile. Unfortunately I missed the turnoff to stop and photograph it, and decided to keep riding. However, I did stop at the next bridge, where the Panamerican crosses the Rio Nuble.

The bridge rumbled and vibrated with each vehicle that passed, but I was able to shoot a quick 16-shot hand-held pano (click on the image below to view it as a gigapan):

I had two reasons to pull in at Los Angeles, the next major town. One was to buy a new mirror. The other was to see if I could find the fire station where Che Guevara and Alberto Granado slept during their infamous 1952 journey. I had a description of it being a tall pale blue building, but the first three people I asked, at a petrol station, had no idea what I was talking about. At this motorcycle accessories shop, however, I was able to get a new mirror and the man behind the counter gave me rapid-fire directions.

Shortly after I took this photo, the counter man came out and called over a mechanic in overalls, and they had a hearty laugh at me and Atwakey. I expect I will get a lot more of those now that I have mismatched mirrors:

I only half understood the directions, and after half an hour of looking, I gave up and headed back out to the Panamerican.

I had reason to stop a few kms down the road when I saw my bike was about to clock up 5000kms:

I chose this spot bury another geocache, a 20 cent coin.

There was a rest area with a special viewing platform beside the highway, from where three volcanoes can be seen. Unfortunately blue haze meant the best picture I could get was this one.

I had planned on stopping in the town of Lautaro, where Che Guevara had gotten himself into a fight in a dance hall 60 years ago. The dance hall still exists, my research told me, but... its late in the day, I am in a hurry due to winter closing in on Patagonia... so I kept riding.

Earlier in the day I had seen two horrific accidents involving overturned trucks - big ones...  I turned off the highway a few kms past Temuco, looking for a place to spend the night. On one of these side roads I passed a parked lorry. From nowhere a soccer ball came bouncing across the road, a teenager chasing after it. For the first time in 5000kms I had to hit the brakes hard; I missed him by about a foot, but he had a smile on his face and didn't even look at me, picked up the ball and ran back to his game. It happened here:

A bit further down the road, at the town of Freire, I had to buy petrol. After the attendants had stopped laughing at my bike, I asked them if there were any lodgings in this town. None that they knew of, they said, and directed me to Villarica, the next large town. Reluctantly, I turned back towards the Panamericana. At the very next corner, as I was about to re-join the highway, I saw a sign that said Hosteria RucantuAnd guess what? They had a room for me, and secure parking for my bike.

After unpacking my bags I set off to snap a few photos before the sun set.  Freire seemed like a friendly little place.

This boarded-up supermarket looked like it has seen better days, but at the same time, in its own way, it looked kind of proud and defiant of the elements.

In constrast to this supermarket

or this 

A boy helps his father as he works on the underside of a Chevy.

Back in the Hosteria Rucantu, a wonderfully warm cast-iron heater  was blazing away.

And this delicious cazuela de ave was served

Two things in the La Tercera newspaper piqued my interest. One was an article by Peruvian Nobel prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa decrying the Zamudio case, and the general public's attitude (full article in Spanish here).The other was how Chile and Peru are at flashpoint about the land-mines displaced by the floodwaters around Arica  (full article in Spanish here)

After dinner I got talking with the owner of the Rucantu, Senor Pedro Matus Cofre. When I told him that the service station told me there was no accomodation in the town, he laughed and said "They are new to this town". When I told him how I rode around Los Angeles and passed Lautaro, missing the opportunity to see buildings linked to Guevara, Pedro just happened to mention that he had a load of actors book out the hotel a while back... who were employed on the film "The Motorcycle Diaries". None of them were the stars, obviously; many were local residents, and one or two of them are good friends of his. Sensing my interest, he promsied to show me something interesting tomorrow that would make up for my previous two Che lacunas. And that he did.

Day 55 route. nb this map is rotated 90 degrees, ie north is not at the top, but on the right.

Speed vrs altitude


 text and photos copyright   ©  Glen David Short 2012