Cycling Chile/Argentina '04 | Candelario Mancilla Index Day 26 Day 28
Day 27: ArgenChile -> Candelario Mancilla 15KM Life After Dearth

"We don't like your weather forecast." Chris told me. Nothing had changed in the morning except our tent was now in one inch of water and everything was soaked. I was blamed for lying about the weather. The barometer indicator on my watch said it was rising and sunny. Wrong.

We got to get out of here. 10Am, we started packing. 11AM, we were waiting for a break in the weather to dash out. Crouched in the tent for half an hour like two wet ducks, we could wait no more. Rain or no rain, we were out.

The road from the Chilean border sign was not too bad. The only obstacles were deep, muddy puddles and one broken bridge. An old bridge 5 feet above water was 20 feet short of reaching the other side. To the left it was deep. To the right there were some plunks barely holding on in the rapids. Brian added some more to finish the job. We carefully walked the narrow boards one bike at a time. River crossing, O'Higgins way.

There was an airport - or at least used to be - right after the bridge. Airport? Who flies here? We wondered.

We cycled on and soon found ourselves at the top of a huge downhill into a river valley. Without guardrails of any kind and loose rock-falls everywhere, an inch over the edge it was over. My brake was making a lot of squeaking noise. It was the ultimate downhill mountain-biking run.

The weather was improving and the scenery was amazing with a turquoise lake in the distance. It was Lago O'Higgins at last.

Soaked and covered with mud, we rolled down the hill to Chilean border control, also served as a police station. We had a new stamp on our passport. It was marked 04/04/04. When the carabinero recorded our entries, I secretly peered through his log book. The last person who came through the border was 16 days ago. Looked like it was either feast or famine, three more customers were coming.

We got other information too. New date for the boat. I would not be on the 5th, nor the 6th, it was going to be the 7th. Well, we have learned to be patient.

The carabinero directed us to a camping area just 1KM away. We carried on, passed the boat dock (yes, we found it!), up two really steep hills, through an wooden gate, across an grassy area with a free ranging horse, and at what seemed to be the end of the world, we saw a house. Not just a shaky cabin but a nice looking house with a fenced yard, a front deck, and even a satellite dish.

We waited until the dogs started barking and that alarmed the owner inside. A 40 something man greeted us at the door and said he had room for us to stay.

Inside, it was basic but warm and cozy. An elderly couple greeted us and asked if we liked to have lunch with them. Of course. We enjoyed a bowl of meat stew with bread, Brian had two. Oh, it was heaven.

When we were having a second cup of hot tea, the rest of the crew showed up. They didn't see Brian's "bridge work" and waded right through the river. We decided to stay in. Graham, Chris, and Gabi camped outside at the grassy area.

Shower was quite an experience. Cold water was mountain stream straight down through the pipe; hot water was a big jarful from the stove top. We used a spare water bottle to mix them up for rinsing. It was not a one person job to say the least.

All five of us had dinner together inside for a small celebration. After all that coldness, wetness, and hunger in the middle of nowhere, it was unbelievable we came upon somewhere so comfortable like this. The elder lady, Senora, cooked us up rice with meat and soup with bread. Life returned at this remote corner of the world.

Index Day 26 Day 28