HARDLY CHILLY (and) IT’S A DOG’S LIFE


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South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago
January 28th 2006
Published: January 29th 2006
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I was surprised how quickly we were out of the mountains and onto the agricultural plains of rural Chile. Just regular, ordinary farmland with some rolling hills, and huge plantations of pines and eucalypts again. Once more the smell of eucalyptus in the air...aarrgghhh always gets me!
Some of the locals are a bit sceptical when I tell them all eucalypts come from Oz.....well, that’s what I was told!

I’ve seen a couple of massive treatment plants, don’t know if I just don’t get out enough to see them at home, but these facilities are monstrous. The central construction is about 50 metres high and looks similar to the Saturn 5 launch pad, with miles of coloured pipes, matching walkways, chimneys, steam venting from numerous outlets, shiny tin walls, strange chemical odour as I ride past, local children limping past with numerous physical defects, odd looking animals trying to cross the road, a patch of totally barren land all around the plant….probably a 3 eyed fish in the local river!…and a mountain of logs! Acres and acres of piles of treated logs and mountains of timber.

And its getting HOT, back to the armour and a T-shirt, hanging out
Hollow SpireHollow SpireHollow Spire

Hollow Ideas? Hollower than Thou
for breaks, drinks and cold showers. And the little speakers are now working a treat in the helmet and with the ipod in the map cover, on the tank bag, I can control the music perfectly, certainly makes a difference on the long straight hauls, but also cool thru’ the curvery

Across this narrow, string bean of a country, green, fertile land, seemingly flat to the horizon, seems too soon to be flat after all the mountains, then I check the rear vision mirror and see, atop the triangle of disappearing asphalt, the massive dome of Volcan Villarrica, now 100 kms away, still dominating the skyline, but the only one in sight.

We take a detour to the coast to check it out before going to Santiago, the road follows the river in beautiful sweeps thru’ lovely forested land.

CAREFUL, OR YOU’LL MISS CONCEPTION!

Heading for Conception, looked like a cool seaside city on the map, turned out to be a port city with no imagination, but got me thinking about city names…you can see where I’m going there!…deception, reception, and a million others that have been left behind in the mind-numbing autopista brain strain.

So we headed up the coast a bit but it didn’t get any better…found another little port town with a million dogs and no restaurants. This thing with dogs is peculiar to Chile! In all the towns and even here in Santiago, in the city centre, thousands of dogs, and all looking really healthy, all sorts of breeds and all sleeping during the day, you’ll hardly see one move, but come the dusk, they’re up and off, constantly running around, it is truly bizzaro.

Jumped ahead a bit there, on the way up to Santiago, the land is surprisingly flat and just endless wheat, corn and lots of vineyards off to the low line of hills to the West, sort of Dandenongs looking, and to the east, thru’ a heavy haze, I can just see the vague shapes of the monster mountain range, its so hazy no camera could pick it up (except for Ted’s) and sort of unreal. There’s just the snow capped tops, massive scale for my head to get around…..maybe the flat terrain I was brought up on makes it harder to comprehend this gigantic geography.

As we get closer to Santiago they become clearer
See Food DietSee Food DietSee Food Diet

Santiago Fish Market
altho’ the haze is amazingly thick, I can’t see it being from industrial pollution, seems more like dust, but it’s thick. The mountain line is clearer now and the hills on the west are closing in, we are heading into a valley.

I’m not sure what I expected of Santiago but the feeling is good. We came in on a Friday arvo about 5pm and the traffic wasn’t too bad.

As usual, relying on gut feelings, uncanny sense of direction and blind faith…all based on a total lack of preparation, eternal optimism and Rafael’s ability to ask the way....a guy on a step-thru’ led us very kindly to an hotel.

I stuck out the side stand and it promptly fell off!! Shee-it!..Fcuk even!…but I am really glad that didn’t happen out on the ripio..or the autopista, and, of course, the oh so handy device that cuts the engine when the stand is down (so you can’t ride off with it down) is activated and I’m stuck! How fortuitous to be outside an hotel! So, a quick look on the internet and got the local BMW dealer number but not much help. Another quick call to Mariano in
Fish MarketFish MarketFish Market

Santiago Market
Buenos Aires, but he was on holiday, however, his fantastic assistant took it on board and at 8am this morning the fix-it guy turned up and made temporary repairs to get me thru’ (altho’ sans side stand) until I can get to the BMW shop on Monday.

So, this morning off to the markets and a look around, it’s all fairly quiet! I would have thought the market would have been the usual, world-wide chaos of Saturday mornings, but no, all very tranquilo, and nice to walk around the city without any hassles.

The sea food market was a treat and the flower market an amazing burst of colour, and all the people all so friendly.

So, what’s next? Plan D? Raf and I will probably head off on Monday, after the BMW shop, to Mendoza and the delights of Argentina’s prima wine area for a couple of days and then work our way North.

He has been firming up on the idea of doing the Alaska thing with me and as the whole idea of selling the bike seems more remote, it’s all becoming more probable than possible.

If that happens I will go
Flower  MarketFlower  MarketFlower Market

Santiago Market
on thru’ to Venezuela with him and hang out while he gets his business organised, then we will fly the bikes to Panama and meet up with Grant and Mary if the timing is right.

Otherwise I will fly the bike from Colombia to Panama and shoot thru’ to Nicaragua and wait for G&M there.

And no progress on the Antarctica thing but I’m still hoping something will eventuate maybe later in the season.

Crikey, this is all so beautiful, calm and almost organised!…I’d better get down to the doctor’s, I must be coming down with something!



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