Dec 21st 2016 (the longest day)
Road: Puerto Montt to Osorno
Ruta 5 is a four-lane highway similar to a rural U.S. Interstate, I-10 between Phoenix and L.A. for example. The road is divided with a paved shoulder to right. The surface is very good, with only light traffic. There are tolls to pay, the booths have attendants and the cost is 200 pesos for bikes. Everyone seems to drive sane, and more on the slow side rather than fast. Service areas with gas are present, as are service areas with open space and restrooms.
Road: Osorno to Bahia Mansa.
Highway U-400 (U-40 on Google maps and others) is a two-lane, paved road in good condition. There are a few potholes which are easily spotted. There are also signs along the way alerting travelers to ‘baches’ (potholes). Nearer to Bahia Mansa is open range, watch for sheep, cattle, but mostly dogs on road. It is worth noting that coming around corners there were many instances of these animals, and for that matter, people, hanging out in the middle of the road. Dogs are everywhere so remember your charging canine avoidance technique from motorcycle school; a couple of them did make a run for us. Other vehicles were scarce, though high tourist season for this area is January and February.
Up at 5am in Santiago and into a taxi towards the airport. All a blur, got on plane, Nescafe and chicken sandwich breakfast at 31 thousand feet. Apparently Nescafe is coffee in these parts. Landing through cloud at Puerto Montt, first look is green green, England green.
Taxi to Osorno to pick up bikes was easy to arrange outside the terminal. There are puddles along the road but no rain for now. Dominic is still asleep walking until 9. Rolling hills, pastures, wooded hilltops, and areas of thicker woodland make up the scenery. There are a few billboards that mainly seem to promote antibiotics and medications for ruminants.
Paperwork for bikes takes a while, not as long as repacking all of our belongings into the panniers, tank bag and waterproof duffel. After days of weather forecasts predicting biblical flooding, the day is clear and bright and with a wind just fresh enough.
As we take our first ride through town and towards the coast, Dominic is now partially awake, or he’s doing a decent impersonation anyway. Buildings are mainly wood frame construction with wood sidings of various designs.
Many have that Bavarian style. Pitched roofs on every one, you can imagine the winters…
The streets are tidy and traffic is friendly and patient. People stop at red lights, which is always the first clue as to how your ride will be in a new country.
It is about an hour ride on paved road to Bahia Mansa. The topography is rolling hills, pastures bordered with stands of good sized trees, ridges of woods, grazing sheep and cattle below. It’s the shapes of Buckinghamshire, the Chilterns. Then you see the woods are tall straight eucalyptus, big cedars and junipers. This is definitely not Aylesbury. Twenty kilometers outside of Osorno the forest thickens and wood-sided cabins sit upon small farms and clearings. Wood smoke trickles from chimneys; chickens, sheep and cows share the yard. More and thicker forest of eucalyptus emerges, as does a river with more water than the Rio Grande. Spring flowers grow along the road for miles, white, orange and strong yellow.
2pm. Bahia Mansa, sudden view of the Pacific and down in to the village. We have dinner with a view of the bay, then sleep like the dead. It has been a long 48 hours.
Plaza de Armas, Santiago
Some views of the Lastarri neighborhood, Santiago
A view from our hotel in Bahia Mansa
Sunset in Bahia Mansa