Xmas & 7.6 Terromoto

Day 21, 20th December.  Overstay in Coyhaique opting for a precooked chicken with Thai frozen vegetables, cooked in the kitchen of the hospedaje.  Watched a few films before drifting off to the sounds of noisy neighbours in the room next door. Kid kicking off who needed some strong discipline! [A few slaps around the head wouldn’t go amiss]

Day 22, 21st December. The bike packed, and although I’d put some sun cream on it was wishful thinking as the rain continued to pour down.  I headed out of town and made it over the highpoint North from town towards Aysén.  I was close to the snow line and it was cold.  When they forecast snowy showers I thought not at 45o latitude on the summer solstice, but there you go.  Shortly thereafter I switched right to pick up ripio on the much less used Ruta 7.  Passed Ortega, not much happening there, pushed on and started dropping down towards the junction with Aysén and Mañihuales.  Before hitting the junction I met several Gauchos droving cattle up the road.  Another awesome sight & just another reason why riding the Carretera Austral is so worth it, despite the bad ripio, winds and almost constant rain.

I stopped at a San Sebastian shrine, as it had sheltered roof, where I met Daniele who stocked up the candles in the shrine, a truck driver with a full load of leña [fire wood].  It was a short distance before I reached paved road and now picked up a tail wind to push me into Mañihuales.  On arriving in town I met two Canadians and a German, Vic Liz and Anatolia[?].  They were heading further south but I’d finished now for the day so I stayed at a local campsite.  I finished the last of the chicken and defrosted, frozen veg, some cheese and I was sorted.  I could pick up wifi in their garage, just enough to phone home.

Day 23, 22nd December.  The day was mixed windy and I planned to make the 90km to the junction with the road to Cisnes.  It was paved all the way which was pleasant given this route was ripio back in 2008.  It was another wet day, not many photos.  Wild camping and wet to boot.

Day 24, 23rd December.  I was off nice n early and after 1km I was back on ripio.  I made the 500 metre ascent over and down towards Puyuhuapi and after sage advice I made it through the road works before they shut.  I touch scary nonetheless overtaking large construction machines as they dug, scrapped and generally made the new road to be. I soon rolled in to Puyuhuapi and passed two English guys I’ been slowly catching up, although they had a few reasons for going slow & overstaying in Coyhaique longer than normal.  A Scottish guy gladly took some of my excess suncream.  He & a girl from Montana had been picking shell fish and almost done they gleefully told the owner of the campsite.  Her face fell then she started ranting about them dying from algal food poisoning.  After a shortwhile I think they got the message, but not after using a good slug of my expensive white wine for cooking!  Oh well, in the bin they went.

Day 25, 24th December.  So I would take today and the 25th December as rest days.  Met Werner and his wife who were driving the green grasshopper, an RV which I first met on the first day out from Punta Arenas.  Myself, Adam, Dave and the German couple teamed up & went for a nice Christmas meal. Met Wallace and Frederica a Swede cycling, well practically everywhere.

Now the 25th, everyone’s left and I’m nice n alone. Wifi now works on the laptop.  Was around 11:25 local time when we had a bit of an earthquake.  Sounded like someone slamming the building [a wooden shack / comedor] & then I realised it was what it was & so left for the yard.  It was a bit like having ten pints and trying to walk in a straight line.  I hadn’t had ten pints and it was kind of odd to have the earth moving around so.  Epicentre still hit around just over 100 km away.  7.6 magnitude.  Locals were a bit scared, cars jumping around, trees wobbling like they were in a force 10+.  I’m advised it was a ‘big one’ by the locals & seems the BBC picked up on it pretty quickly.  We had warning to evacuate after a half hour due to Tsunami, but this was eventually stood down, although to be honest Puyuhuapi is pretty much protected due to the complex fiords around here.

Now ready to make my Christmas dinner of: Longaniza, Pasta, onion, garlic, pepper, tomato & cheese.  Ready for a mega push tomorrow Northwards.

NB: Huemules are a mythical creature, created by Chilean and Argentinian Governments, to surreptitiously get motorists to slow down.  Check out the conspiracy theories!

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