After a few somehow turbulent days, we finally reached Villa Santa Lucia. What happend:
Coyhaique – Villa Maniuales
As already written, there are some social unrest in the Aysen Region. As part of this, some of the street gets blocked. Because of this, there is a shortage of fuel in the region. Fuel is here not only used for cars but also to produce electrical power. Therefore, it wasnt that much of a surprise, when there was a total blackout when we were haveing dinner in Coyhaique the evening before we left. Our dinner was already prepared fortunately and we just got a candel light dinner ;-). Power came back during the night though.
On the next day, we kept going with the bike. First over the pass next to Coyhaique, which I cycled now already the third time, down the valley and again up the next one. On the way we met a lot of cyclists. I have problably met that many on my whole cycling trip in 2009/2010. Shortly for Maniuales, we passed the first blockage but it was not active at that time anymore. However, because of the blockages at other places, there was not a lot of traffic, which was great for us cyclists.
In Maniuales itself, we stayed in the Casa de Ciclistas of the Chilenen Jorge. He is offering a place to stay to all passing cyclist. Thank you again, Jorge! That night there were 9 cyclists at this place…
Maniuales – Near Piedra del Gato
On the next day, we kept going north. First we passed without an issue the next blockage because we were cyclists. Afterwards we drove by sunshine through a wonderful area. On the way we heard from cyclists, that there was another blockage just before Villa Amengual. This one could only be passed every two hours; also by cyclists. After a longer lunch and picture break, we finally reached this blockage. And it was opened on time. Thats also Chile ;-). We bought some food and drove over a little pass down to the Rio Cisnes valley. When I passed through here in 2010, the road was still gravel. However, now everything was paved. Shortly before Piedra del Gato, we found a place to camp at a farm. In the evening, we had the pleasure to listen with the guy there to Radio Coyhaique, which was hardly receiveable. And all this by candle light. Those are the very special moments on such a journey… During the night I made my first pictures of the night sky (see gallery).
Piedra del Gato – Puyuhuapi
After we dried our tents more or less (it always takes a long time…) we kept going. At the junction to Passo Quelat, the road changed again to gravel. Some parts of the road just got renewed and we had to push the bike up the steep path towards the pass. However, this time it felt less hard than when I did it in 2010. As steep it goes up one side, it goes down the other. On the way we met again multiple cyclists, like to sisters from Germany and a whole group from Chile. The Chilenien thougt, that the Camping at the Colgante glaciar could be closed because of the protests. Unfortunately, they were right and we kept a bit frustrated going till Puyuhuapi. At least the weather was great. After we passed again a road blockaged (this time without waiting), we stayed in the very nice Casa Ludwig, which is owned by the daughter of one of the founders of this village. Because the weather forecast was not good for the next few days, we stayed for another night. And because we couldnt just sit around, we paddled with a kajak through the bay. Was good to do once something with the arms and not just always with the legs.
Puyuhuapi – Villa Vanguardia
The protests kept going also today. One of the main goal seems to be, that the president and his minister come to the people and talk to them directly instead of sending just deputies and still deciding everything in Santiago. They see the blockage as the only way to get some attention also in the national medias. So far the media are only talking very little about the protests and mostly only on the negative parts, e.g. violance…
For us, the protests had still the positive side affect, that there was very little traffic. In scatering showers, we drove till Junta and bought there Empenadas and other food. We wanted to keep going and hoped to find a place to stay at the next few kilometers. That wasnt the case, unfortunately. Instead of a few km, we finaly got 40km. We hoped to find something in Villa Vanguardia but the owner of the hospedaje/camping was not in the mood to host anybody. We slept in a not finished Cabana, which was fine. At least it was dry.
Villa Vanguardia – Villa Santag Lucia
We left Villa Vanguardia again the next morning. Just a few km afterwards, we saw a sign where they offered coffee and bread. We had to stop there, of course. It definitively would have been a better place to stay over night… After a longer break, we kept going. It was pretty rainy today and we didnt drive that fast therefore. I was in my thoughts, when there was suddenly a very loud bang just behind me. Michu thought that somebody was shooting in the next town. However, it was my tire which now had a big whole in it. And a small crater was even visible in the gravel road…
It took some time to repair all that because I had to figure out that my spare material wasnt that great. Thats the risk if you dont have any issues for several thousand kilometers… However, with the help and patience of Michu, I finally fixed it and we kept going. It wasnt the idea to just get to Villa Santa Lucia today but we lost so much time because of the repair that we decided to stay there. We had again some issues to find a place for the night but got a cabana at the end. And it was a very nice one with a flat screen TV which even had two channels :-).
Tomorrow, we will keep going towards Chaiten. Hopefully the weather is getting a bit better again…
PS: The best pictures can again be found in the gallery.