Wednesday 14 March
I left Linares about 10 am and headed off back down Ruta 5. Although the purpose of the trip was now to make ground and join the tour at Osorno I didn't really want to spend all day on the motorway. I had a hotel booked and plenty of time.
Originally I had thought of heading up into the hills from Linares to Termas de Quinamavida. A hot water spa mentioned in the guide book. There were some leaflets in the hotel and it all looked a bit exclusive and expensive for me. This together with the fog and a note in the guide book that the average age of the clientele was 80 I decided to give it a miss. In a way I wish I hadn't as when I woke that morning I was very stiff, everything ached. I think I could of done with a turkish bath. I had never had one and I don't think a bit of steamy naked male bonding would of changed the way I felt about Lin - would it ?!
I charged off towards Chillan, the next big city, just over an hour south.
It was about 11 when I got there so I thought I would go and have a look. I headed for Plaza Bernardo O'Higgins and managed to find a motorbike parking bay next to the earthquake proof cathedral. The plaza was full of couples engaged in Chile's favourite past time - public snogging. It was 11 am and they were going for it. It might of been a team event. Chillan verses Concepcion perhaps. God knows.
I found a bank and topped up and went for a coffee before setting back off. Just as my coffee was served a God almight siren went off. It was like an air raid siren. My immediate thought was that it was an earthquake, but no one moved. It was as if I was the only one who had heard it. I though I'l run if they do otherwise drink your coffee and look calm.
The other noticable thing about Chillan were the hats some of the marter men wore. They were of straw, white with a larged flat circular brim and a short pillar box "hat" bit. I have since found out they are typical of the Chiilean huaso or horse
The next big city was Los Angeles - no I hadn't got lost ! Here I turned off with the intention of hooking up with the road that ran between Concepcion and my destination for the day, Temuco. This road more or less ran parallel to Ruta 5 but appeared to run up a series of valleys and of course had the advantage that it wasn't a motorway.
At first the road headed towards the coast and at the little town of Santa Fe before it swung right to Nacimiento. Nacimiento had nothing going for other than a vast industrial complex. All morning I had past confir plantations and lorries of wood. Nacimiento seemed to be the destination for these lorries as I hit the main road I came to the entrance of the industrial plant and it was marked in huge letters "Celulosa". It was a cellulose plant
I turned left and southeast. The area was very rural. Still plenty of trees, but there were vines, fruit and wheat all being grown.Much of the wheat had been harvested and the stubbled set alight. Great grey columns of smoke rose up into the sky, quite unnecessarily
in my view. My route took me through Angol and a place that for some reason tickled me - Los Sauces. It was all very pleasant but extremely hot and very mediterranean.
At Traiguen I got lost, or rather looking back that is where I must have gone slightly the wrong way. As I had got used to there were very few helpful road signs but I had seen a few for Temuco so I more or less knew up unitl Traiguen I was going the right way. At Traiguen there wasn't a sauage so I keep on going. I don't recall any turn off but 20 minutes later I found myself on Ruta 5 again. I must of taken the minor road left out of Traiguen and headed for Victoria. How that happened I don't know as the main road and what you would think would be the most obvious was the way I had thought I had gone. Oh well. I had by this time nearly been in the saddle for 6 or so hours (including my break at Chillan) and it was only a 50 or so kms to Temuco so I hadn't done so bad.
I found the hotel easy enough. Pulled in and carried out what had now become a ritual. E-mail Lin, shower, go for a walk have a beer and something to eat.
Temuco was another nice little town but hardly a tourist destination. I found the main plaza which had another awlful cathedral. The hotel though was rubbish - apart form the food. It had secure off road parking, which was good, but was hot and noisey and uncomfortably. Even the fresh scrambled eggs for breakfast didn't make up for a terrible night's sleep. And I finally lost the best part of half my nail on the middle finger of my right hand trying to get my boots off!!
Friday 16 March
I woke to thick fog, as thick as it was in Copiapo, but I set off early. I wanted to get going. Get into Osorno , meet the people I would be spending the best part of just over 2 weeks with and swap my bike.
The fog was wet and cold but fortunately soon lifted but the temperature was a good 10 - 15C colder than it had been up to now. I decided for this last push to stay on the motorway. That way I would get to the meeting point about lunch time. Hopefully I would be one of the first and be able to bag a good room and a good bike.
It would have been nice to keep off Ruta 5 more than I had but it is Chile's main artery and ran the length of the country. There were hardly any other roads that ran north/south. Most roads ran off ruta 5 to the coast or up into the mountains so I was more or less stuck with it.
The landscape, once the fog was gone and I could see it, had changed again. It was very European. Rolling hills of woodland and fields of grass grazed by cattle. All quite green and it reminded me a bit of home. .
Osorno was only 2 and half hours away and soon came up. I turned the sat nav on and started looking for the hotel. I soon reached where the sat nav said it would be but for the life of me couldn't see anything remotely like a hotel. All that there was was a huge modern complex which I assumed was an office block. I drove round town and on one curcuit passed this building from a different direction. There high on the side was the hotel's name! Bloody hell surely that wasn't it? It was. It was huge, modern, clean and very much 5 stars. I don't think I had every been to a hotel so posh in my life and I had never seen one like it in Chile.
I was expected ! I booked in but Kevin Saunders the tour leader had gone out. I assumed he had gone off to sort out the bikes. I dumped my gear and went looking for him. I had the address from the paperwork for the F800GS so I set out to find Kevin. The bikes were coming from a place called Motoaventura. It was only just under 5 kms away and it was where I had to hand my F800GS in and it was easy to find.
When I got there, just after 1pm nearly everyone, including Kevin had gone for lunch. I sat about for a while before some one came out. It seems I was expected and the formalities were completed. Chilieans love paperwork and it took an age. The lanauage problem didn't help but we got there eventually. A mechanic came out to give the F800GS I was handing back the once over. He scratched his head a few times, said some thing to his colleague and made notes. I expect that fall was going to cost me, but I had paid the insurance premium so I just hoped to God it was OK. I decided to pay the insurance the premium on the replacement bike too !
I now had a lovely dark grey BMW R1200GS, a bit like mine back home. This one though had a low seat. After being on tip toes with the F800GS it would make a nice change but I am not quite sure yet whether I will like it. My own bike is the standard height so we would have to see. It had about 19,000 kms on the clock and sounded completely different to mine so I guess it is an older bike, not the twim cam engine.
We swapped over the panniers and away I went back for a shower and a beer
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