After four days on the road, and my body trying to tell me that it is no longer in the condition it used to be in, I am having a rest. Villaricca seems as good a place as any to stop, especially when it is at a hostel run by a pair of RTW cyclists who decided that here was where they would stop.
From Santiago I got a bus with Linea Azul to Chillan, to avoid the crap riding on the motorway south of Santiago. Since then I’ve had 3.5 days on the dual carriageway Ruta 5, and half a day on the (good) road to Villaricca. After here, the dirt roads will start.
From Chillan, I rode to Salta del Lajos, a waterfall, where I was the first camping tourist of the season. Apparently the others are still 3-4 weeks away. I was all alone in the campsite. Still a ripoff at $10USD for cold water. Prices are per site, rather than per person, making it expensive for one.
Next stop was a very dodgy town, Chollipulli. There’s something odd about seeing Chilean kids trying so hard to look like an American skater, right down to the pants down low showing their boxers. Especially when you’re in the middle of a town that is very much NOT the USA.
There is quite obvious disparity here in people’s incomes. It’s odd stopping at a services area that could be in Europe, then next stopping at a little shack on the edge of a field, to grab an empanada. I don’t think it’s coruption (like say China or Central Asia), more it’s that some people have adapted faster to the changes since Pinochet’s time. There is some serious money behind the agricultural procesing plants, and huge houses in the Lake District here.
Another day down the Ruta 5 from Chollipulli to Temuco, then a nice easy ride out here to Villaricca. Didn’t expect Villaricca to have as many flash places as it does, but I guess it’s a rich person’s playground.
Met my first touring cyclists yesterday, and had a chat about where to go from here. The current thinking is that I may be better off going to Argentina in the next day or two, moving south, then crossing back to Chile around Futaleafu. Seems as good a plan as any.