Cycling Chile/Argentina '04 | Puerto Montt Index Day 44 Day 46
Day 45: Coyhaique->Pt. Aisen->Pt. Chacabuco 25KM Cheaters

A baby wailed all night long in the hosptaje. We were up at 6AM. Downstairs, our breakfast was waiting for us on the kitchen table.

Yesterday, we decided to take a bus ride to Puerto Aisen. It is around 70K from Coyhaique. We didn't quite feel like cycling all day. An hour of bus ride sounded quite enticing.

So, we rode to the bus station after breakfast and loaded the bikes onto the bus. The driver jammed the two bikes in the far end of the seats. They fit!

After a climb not far out of the city, the road followed a river and went pretty smooth. Sun pierced through the morning fog still hanging over the hills. It would be a great ride, but we were quite happy to be at Puerto Aisen by noon.

Aisen is a very pleasant seaside town with all the amenities you need, a bit on the touristy side though. We cruised the city streets and found a bike shop where I got new brake pads. We also got some seasick medicine just in case.

Puerto Charcabuco, where our ferry will depart from, is a mere 12K away. Not very long ago, Aisen is the port of entry until its harbor silted up the narrow fjord, now a muddy river bed where vegetation already started to grow.

We filled up with a rather expensive lunch of churrasco, meat sandwich, and completo, hotdog, with some papas fritas and cycled off over a bridge toward Charcabuco.

The road is nicely paved and the traffic was not too bad. It was a perfect sunny day. I couldn't remember from when we lost the habit of wearing helmet. The wind breezed through my hair. It felt wonderful.

Around 5K from Charcabuco, we saw a sign to a dirt road pointing to a regional park, Parc Aiken del Sur. So we followed. After several fishermen's houses, we were on jeep tracks. It was nothing like the ripio we had gone through.

The park is very new and looked totally empty. We followed the sign to what is supposed to be a waterfall. It was hidden behind tall bushes quarter of a mile away. As we stood by a metal gate with a "private" sign on wondering if we could keep going, over the small hill down the road came a shadowy figure.

It was Kiwamu, the Japanese with all red bike gear who took off ahead of us in Villa O'Higgins. For all the places we could bump into him, it was so weird. He finally found a replacement to his warped bike frame in Coyhaique and he seemed to have had enough of the ripio. He was going to take the catamaran to Quellon.

We chatted for a bit more and parted. Down the road where he came was a boat dock and he was right, there was nothing to see.

Back to the main road and we were at Charcabuco in no time. At the plaza looking out to the ocean, we had some snack and watched the children play. There is an Internet cafe by the plaza, but apparently it was having problem that day. We did though, find a one room, one terminal access at Chilean Express just by the port.

The sun finally set. We were supposed to be at the ferry terminal at 10PM. At a small cafe, we ordered some empanadas to go with a bottle of wine. Those empanadas were big enough to fill my cavity. We secretly played "tuck of war" with the short store owner who tried unsuccessfully at both starting a fire and preventing us from leaving the curtain open for a hair. We were paranoid at leaving stuff out of sight now; I gave the silent owner credit for being persistent.

Dogs started barking soon as we returned to our bikes. The ferry terminal's waiting room was the only place bright out on the port. It looked really cold inside because we spotted Graham wearing a hat and gloves.

Everybody else was inside, Chris and Gabi and a number of other passengers. The waiting room is huge with high ceiling and four rows of old airplane seats.

9ish, someone came in and announced the ferry will not leave on time. It was having mechanical problems. What a shocker. So, we had some more cookies and pulled out the sleeping bag to take a nap.

It must be 2Am or later when noise woke me up. We were ready to board and not only that, because of the delay, we were given meals on board for free!

Crewmen directed us to the lower deck to lock up our bikes. When we entered our 4-person berth, a Chilean man is already there. Miguel works for a mining company and he operates a tunnel loader. On our notebook, he drew picture of the loader which looks like a Corvette with a chimney. We taught him how to say "gold" in English. He likes the pronunciation of "gold nugget". From his travel bag, he took out some quartz sample for us to pick. We felt extremely flattered.

4Am we went to bed. The ferry was not going to depart till 6AM. The fourth passenger of our berth came in late and we had to shuffle all the gear we set on his bed away. The bunk bed was quite small and I couldn't sit up on the top bunk, but the clean soft linen was quite nice.

Index Day 44 Day 46