Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mission Accomplished… Into Ushuaia Jan 28

This Was The Day That Was !

From Rio Gallegos I kept heading south. First I had to cross the border from Argentina into Chile. The crossing to Tierra del Fuego, as well as the northern part of Tierra del Fuego, is Chile. Then it switches back to Argentina.

The border crossing itself was the worst I have encountered on the trip. Everybody going to Tierra del Fuego OR to southern Chile (Puerto Natales, etc.) filters through here. The lines were almost two hours long, and they have about 3 immigration agents to handle everybody. Two of them are usually at lunch. The other is retarded.

After this I arrived at the ferry that would carry me to Tierra del Fuego. This was the famous Straights of Magellen. It’s only about a half hour ride, but given the winds was a bit bouncy.

After crossing, the first 30 km of road is pavement, then it turns to dirt. However, it is a good dirt road and I was enjoying it. Also, the excitement was building. Here I was – actually in Tierra del Fuego – after all this time. I finally came to a sign that really started the emotions going into full gear, telling me that I had arrived in the Argentinian province of Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica.

My emotions at this point were really running high. I had been planning this trip for three years, had been riding for four and a half months through six countries, had ridden almost every kind of road imaginable (paved, dirt, sand, gravel, mud, rivers… you name it), had covered more than 18,000 km, had been through nice weather, rain, sandstorms, and thousands of kilometres of wind, and now I was almost there.

Parts of the road are very pretty, with pampas leading right down to the ocean, but the winds continued to be high.

After 125 km of dirt I reached San Sebastian, and the border crossing back into Argentina. This one was much easier, with little traffic. The road here also turns back to pavement… a real pleasure. The problem I was now facing was the light. The border delays had set me back a bit and I didn’t want to ride in the dark. But I kept going on.

I could see huge rain clouds in the distance, and it was beginning to get cold. I mean REALLY cold. I was, after all, getting near the bottom of the world. I stopped to put on rain gear and my electric jacket and gloves. I managed to avoid the rain, but it had left the roads wet and I was now riding directly into the sun, which was also reflecting off the road leaving me almost blind. I also hadn’t known that someone had thrown in a small mountain range before Ushuaia. I had been riding through thousands of miles of flat pampas, so I thought that sticking in a mountain range at the end was just downright inconsiderate.

The race at this point got to be with the light… I was losing it fast and there was nowhere to stop. Finally, around 10 oclock, just as it was getting dark, I reached Ushuaia.

Emotions peaked as I realized that I had reached my dream and my goal. I now have many biker friends who have also done this, and many who tried but didn’t make it all the way. But I had, and it felt awfully damn good.

Mission accomplished

Perito Moreno Through Patagonia: Jan 25 - 28

I arrived in Perito Moreno at night, and again was flabbergasted by the prices, but managed. In the morning I saw two bikers on the other side of the street and did a quick U turn to see who it was. One turned out to be Robert Vinet, who I had shared a room with (and his wife) in Antofagasta about a month before. He was on his way north from Ushuaia and couldn’t believe that I was still heading south. What can I say… you have to stop and smell the roses!

While in Perito Moreno I got an email from Thierry, the Swiss chap I had met in Osorno. He wrote me from Puerto Natales (Chile) that he had already left Ushuaia. He wanted to try to get a last minute cruise slot from Ushuaia to Antarctica, but nothing was available. He said that ships were either full, or he would have to wait around a week or two on a waiting list and then still not be certain of a space.

Now, my intention all along was to do the same: To try for a last minute slot on a cruise to Antarctica, so I was a little discouraged. Fortunately, I had gotten the card of a travel agent in
Ushuaia from some Aussies that I met in Puyuapi the week before. Her name is Alicia Petiet ( and they raved about how good she was. So after looking all over Perito Moreno to buy a cell phone chip and pre-paid card for my phone, I gave Alicia a call. I told her I needed a fast answer, because I either would go south on Route 40 to Calafate or east to Route 3 to make a fast bee-line to Ushuaia. Within 15 minutes Alicia called me back and had me booked on the Polar Star for a 12 day cruise starting on February 3. And she got me on exactly the kind of boat I wanted (100 passengers) at a very good rate (40% off full fare).

So... change of plans. I didn’t have time to visit Calafate and Parque Torre de Paines and still get to Ushuaia on time for my cruise… especially if something delayed me. Since I had just paid for the entire fare by credit card I didn’t really want to miss the boat. So it was a quick run across Argentina to Ruta 3 along the Atlantic coast, and down through Patagonia.

Now, I have to tell you that I had been warned about the ride through Patagonia: it is BORING! Literally thousands of miles of nothing but pampas (plains), broken up by occasional bursts of... nothing. And there is a constant wind of from 50 to 100 kph, usually from the side. I never got quite used to riding on a 45 degree angle to the right, but I figure I only wore down the right side of my tires. I’ll use the left side on the way back up. Photo, Pampas

The first night I camped in Jaramillo. Not much there, but there is a real lack of accommodations out here. The next day I went to Rio Gallegos.

On the way, while stopped in a gas station, I met Lobos, a Brazilian from Florianopolis. We decided to go to Rio Gallegos together and share a room (we were still appalled at the prices). It turns out he is also a business professor, so we had a lot in common. What we didn’t have in common was language: He spoke neither English nor Spanish and I don’t speak Portugese. However, between his Portugese and my Spanish we managed to communicate (in Portañol)

The window of our hotel room opened directly onto the parking area of the hotel, so we decided it was a lot shorter to use than going all the way around to the lobby to get to our bike gear. Either that, or Lobo was practicing for a new career as a cat burglar.

Lobo went on to Ushuaia the next day, while I stayed in Rio Gallegos to get some errands done. After all, I didn’t need to be in Ushuaia until Feb 2 so there was no hurry. Leaving Rio Gallegos I came to the same police checkpoint I had passed coming down. I thought that the road to Rio Gallegos had been at a T junction and I had to come back out the same way. When I told the cop I was on my way to Ushuaia he just looked at me kind of strange. Then told me I was going in the wrong direction. Oh well, sometimes detours are planned and sometimes they just happen. This one was a little 50 km jaunt back, and then I was on the way to Ushuaia.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Puerto Ibanez: Rodeos, Fiestas, and Out of Chile: Jan 24 – 25

Saturday I rode to down the Carretera Austral to Puerto Ibanez, where I had heard about a fiesta. Adam was nowhere to be seen or heard from, although I eventually got an email from him after I had left.

Puerto Ibanez is a little town on Lake General Carrera with the incredible normal population of 700. The river, laden with silt, comes into the lake there and you can see the difference it makes in the water.

The town consists of a few dirt roads, and a couple of stores and hostels. It’s basically dirt poor. However the hostel where I stayed was a beehive of activity. In fact, they moved one of the family out of his bedroom so they could rent it out to me. The owner and I got to be great friends (he told me he was going to get a motorcycle some day, too.) As you can see, definitely a resort quality place.

The owners daughters also thought my motorcycle was extremely cool, and promptly proceeded to take it over for their very own.

The fiesta was kind of a one event rodeo: Wild bronc riding. It went on all day, brought in participants and audience from both Chile and Argentina, and was a lot of fun.

The Argentine gauchos are known for their horsemanship, and they certainly diplayed it.

That night there was a big dance/fiesta. Two of the three bands that were playing were staying at my hostel, and the music started there long before the real party started.

The fiesta itself drew in everyone of all ages from the area. It didn’t really get going until about 11:00, and I understand ended about 5. I conked out about 3:00 and went back to the hostel. . When I got up to go the bathroom at 7:45 am people were still partying in the living room. They were also still going at 10 am when I finally got up. These people do know how to party!

The next day, once I had recovered, I took the ferry from Puerto Ibanez to Chile Chico. I then crossed over into Argentina and rode to Perito Moreno for the night, where I was greeted bhy the shock of southern Argentinea prices in the high season. About three times what I was used to paying! Nonetheless, I found adequate shelter for the night and planned to ride in the morning down Ruta 40, reported to be one of the most challenging in Patagonia, to Calafate.

Friday, January 23, 2009

South on the Carretera Austral: Jan 19-23

Karen left this morning, and I rode 100 km back to Osorno to get tires for my bike. This had already been arranged, and it wouldn’t have been a problem if anyone had been at the shop. Unfortunately, the shop was closed. After calling around I finally found them and they promised they would be there ‘soon’. In the meantime, I went to find some oil to do an oil change. Only I only had to try four places before I found someplace with an acceptable oil.

Back at MotoAdventuras, Victor arrived and changed the tires while I changed the oil, and then I was back on the road to Puerto Montt. This was now the fifth time I had ridden this stretch of road and it is BORING!

Adam and I had agreed to split the cost of the hotel (at a reduced rate since we wouldn’t be sleeping there) so we had a place to shower and re-pack since the boat didn’t leave until midnight. This was a real pleasure.

We began lining up to load at 10pm as instructed. And waited. And waited. The boat was full of trucks, and they all had to be loaded backwards so that they could roll off in Chaiten. We finally got my bike on and stuck in amongst some trucks.

The ferry ride itself was not particularly pleasant. Think of economy class on Aeroflot without all the luxury and you’ll have a good idea of the ferry. I grabbed a really good seat with lots of leg room as soon as we got on the boat. Then they announced that there were teeny, itty-bitty numbers on the tickets that were seat assignments. I was immediately displaced by a family with 12 kids. The smart passengers were the backpackers who grabbed space under the tables and set out their mats and sleeping bags. I, on the other hand, got to curl up next to a logger who hadn’t bathed since October… 2006. Little sleep and a cramped neck were my rewards for the evening.

But eventually we arrive, about 9 am, in Chaiten, and the ferry unloaded. This was much faster than the loading since everyone was heading in the right direction

Chaiten used to be a fairly thriving tourist town until last May when the Chaiten volcano decided to blow its top. The volcano and surrounding area are beautiful, and as you can see the volcano still hasn’t broken its smoking habit.

The town itself was devastated. It’s now a ghost town, mostly under ash. There are a few stores that have reopened, and Adam and I were able to get some food.

We had decided that we would ride to the hot springs at El Amarillo, take it easy for the day (since we hadn’t slept), and camp there. I should mention that Adam is a Brit who has been riding around the world for two and a half years. He generally camps, and is well prepared for it. I, on the other hand, do not and am not. I also like a softer bed. Adam’s longer term travel also meant that he was on a bit tighter budget than I was. Travelling with someone else has both its advantages and disadvantages. When you each have different agendas, budgets, or styles it can cause some problems. We enjoyed a few days together, and were planning on travelling down Ruta 40 (one of the tougher stretches of the trip) together, but then because of this we ended up separating.

But we did enjoy the camp, and had lots of privacy, as we were the only ones there. There were a couple of guys in the thermals for the day who worked at one of the nearby salmon farms, and I learned a lot from them about the local salmon farming industry. Did you know that a salmon bush can be harvested twice a year, then has to be dug up and replanted. The salmon themselves are picked from the branches using a kind of threshing machine. Or maybe I had a bit of a problem with the translations!

The Carretera Austral is mostly dirt from this point. Most of it is decent, but there are some bad areas where they are doing construction. Riding south on it, however, was spectacular. We just kept saying to ourselves ‘This is what I came to southern Chile for’. There are just some days that make all the crap worthwhile, and this was one of them. As you can see, incredible scenery.

There was also a bit of mystery, as we had no idea how an old plane wreck happened to be parked at the side of the road. Talk about off course!

That night (Thursday) we stayed in Puyuapi, where I found a decent hostel (although run by a semi-lunatic woman) while Adam camped. Also in the Small World department, we ran across four Aussies that Adam had met in Australia a year before. One of them gave me the card of a travel agent who had helped them get a last minute trip to Antarctica, and this turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me, as she later became a life-saver in getting me down onto the ice.

The next day we went to Coihaique, where again I found a hostel and Adam camped. After about two hours of looking at places together we decided to each look for our own accommodations. Since I had a cell phone and Adam did not, he promised to call me the next morning to make plans. Unfortunately, he never called. I heard about a local horse riding fiesta the next day in Puerto Ibanez and really wanted to go. I sent Adam an email, but got no response until after I had left the next day. So Adam (at least as a travelling companion) became history. Saturday I was off to Puerto Ibanez.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chiloe to Lake Country: Jan 13 - 18

From Chiloe we took the ferry back to Puerto Montt. Among other things, I had to see about getting a ticket for the ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaiten (the REAL beginning of Southern Chile and the Carretera Austral or Southern Highway). Not surprisingly, the office of the boat company, Naviera Austral, was completely screwed up. I say not surprisingly because we had gotten totally different information about sailing routes and schedules from the two tourist information agencies in Chiloe, it was impossible to get them to answer a phone, and their web site was down.

I wanted to take the boat on Monday after Karen left, but they told me there was no space for a motorcycle. Come on girls, ‘it’s a bike not a car’, says I, ‘it hardly takes any space at all’. But they gave me their best ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’ look and told me I would have to wait. Now, since the next available boat was 5 days later I wasn’t having any of that. And having lived long enough in Latin America, I knew that there is always someone who can make a different decision. So upstairs I go to talk to the jefe supremo (head honcho) who says those words I’ve so come to love to hear: ‘no problema’. So my trip is arranged, and off we go to the lake country.

Wednesday night was the SPLURGE. Warning: Those of you who use Lonely Planet guides on a regular basis know that their information of prices is generally a POS. For the rest, be aware. Anyway, according to the Lonely Planet, the price for day use of the spa at the Hotel Puyuehe was about $15. This was for the thermal pools. This hotel is a definite 5 star, and day use was a lot higher than we thought. When I asked them for the price if we stayed overnight, what they quoted was not much higher than day use, or so we thought. After checking in, when they gave me the credit card slip it turned out that price was per person… so a little more than planned. To make a long story short (I know, it’s already too late for that), we ended up staying in this beautiful 5 star, all inclusive hotel for the night. We decided it was our Christmas present to each other, since we had not been together for the holidays.

I’m usually not too impressed with ‘all inclusive’ facilities since they often tend to skimp on food or other things, but this one was great. Food, wines, drinks, you name it: all top notch.

Massage was extra, but after months sitting on a motorcycle I just NEED one sometimes. There are certain parts of the anatomy (not to be excessively described) that simply spend too much time in contact with the motorcycle and need to be rubbed out, as it were. When I get rich I’m definitely going back.

On Thursday we went to Argentina. The border crossing from Chile to Argentina was no hassle, and the road through the mountains was beautiful.

The first town we came to was Villa La Angostura. Very pretty, and we were told very expensive. Our original intention was to ride to Bariloche and stay there for a few days, so on we went. However, as we approached Bariloche the landscape changed. Fewer trees, somewhat barren, and very heavy winds. We decided to return to Villa La Angostura. Unfortunately, there were NO hotel rooms available, but after about 15 tries (nobody bothers to put out a ‘no vacancy’ sign… that would make too much sense) we found a room in a beautiful budget-buster. We had a great steak dinner (Argentine beef can’t be beat) at a restaurant on the lake, and the next day returned to Chile.

We got a nice little rustic cabin on another lake, and stayed for three days

We also did some hiking in the park at Aguas Calientes (the poor man’s version of the Hotel Puyehe), which kind of reminded us of the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

On Sunday, Jan 18, we rode back to Puerto Montt. On the way we stopped for lunch in Puerto Veras, where we also had coffee with Sandra Shories, the young German woman who I had met in Cuenca, Ecuador. She was working for three months at the Casa Azul hostel, which looked really nice.

While we were checking email in Puerto Varas, I found a message from Adam Lewis. Adam had seen a posting I did on Horizons Unlimited (an adventure motorcyclists’ website) asking if anyone was travelling in this area. He said he was in Puerto Varas. I told him that I was in Puerto also, and by the time we got back to my bike Adam was standing next to it. He figured it had to be mine. We decided to try to get him onto the ferry the next day with me and ride together a bit.

The next morning Karen flew back to Panama, while I rode up to Osorno for a new set of tires, then back to stay in Puerto Montt until the ferry for Chaiten left at midnight. We had managed to get Adam a ticket on the boat (also had to go back to ‘el jefe supremo’ again), so I had a travelling companion for at least a little while.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chiloe Island: Jan 10-13

Karen arrived in Puerto Montt at about midnight on Jan 9 and finally found her way to the hotel (after having the taxi driver try to take her to another hotel with a similar name). It was about time that she got a taste of what I had been doing for the last 4 months, so we were going to travel together by motorcycle for the rest of her trip. I left half of my gear at the hotel in Puerto Montt so that we could do this.

On Saturday we took the ferry to the town of Ancud on Chiloe Island, where we ensconced ourselves in a really nice cabin on the cliffs over the beach at Cabanas Eucalipto. It was nice to be able to do some cooking, relaxing, wine drinking, and walking on the beach.

That night was an exceptionally bright full moon, and the view was spectacular.

Sunday we went to see the penguin colony. Karen had worked as a volunteer penguin feeder at the aquarium in Niagara Falls when we lived in Toronto, so I figured this was right up her alley. Also, I figured that I would get to see penguins in southern Chile or Argentina, but this might be her only chance. The ride out included 17 km of dirt road, which Karen had never done on a motorcycle, but she hardly screamed at all! Good for you, kid. We then went by boat to view the Magallanes and Humbolt penguins on the nearby islands.

The next day we rode to Castro, the capital of Chiloe, for a great seafood lunch. Many of the houses here are built on stilts over the water, which reminded me of many of the ‘arcs’ along the waterfront when we used to live on the houseboat in Sausalito.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Puerto Saavedra to Puerto Montt: Jan 6-9

Leaving Puerto Saavedra towards Temuco, I passed a couple of bikers (the kind you have to pedal... waaay too much work!) on the road who looked kind of familiar. I did a U turn and discovered that they were Chris and Victoria, a Swiss couple who I had met at my hostel in Arequipa, Peru, a month before. Now how, I asks meself, do these guys catch up with me in Chile on pedal bikes? It turns out they (wisely) cheated… they put their bikes and themselves on a bus and missed a thousand miles of desert.

On to Pucon, a beautiful town on a lake with a picture-perfect volcano as a background

Actually, maybe a little too beautiful. I think you could interchange this place with Banff, Whistler, or Jackson Hole and nobody would notice. The buildings were exact copies.

And expensive! It was only the second time on the trip that I have slept in the dorm room of a hostel, but nothing else was available at anywhere near an affordable price. I thought, ‘Wow, me and two twenty-something year old dutch babes sharing a bedroom’. But – alas – for the old guy (me) it was only a distant fantasy.

That night I went with one of my ‘roommates’ from the hostel and a group of Israelis to a hot springs, where we managed to soak up a lot of hot water externally while we input a somewhat smaller quantity of red wine internally .

From Pucon I headed towards Puerto Montt, where Karen would meet me on the 9th. I spent one night in Osorno where I ran into Thierry, a Swiss guy who had ridden with David Collette (the South African I had ridden with in Colombia). Thierry proved invaluable in giving me some information about Ushuaia that would change the later part of my trip. But more about that later. I also made a stop at MotoAdventuras in Osorno to arrange to have some new tires put on the bike the following week. I figured I was going to need a new set of more dirt-oriented tires for the dirt and gravel roads down south. It turned out they stocked Metzler Sahara 3s, just what I needed.

I arrived in Puerto Montt on the 9th and waited for Karen to arrive around midnight.

Monday, January 5, 2009

South from Santiago to Puerto Saavedra – Jan 3 – 5

Leaving Santiago, for the south was mostly agriculture and freeway. Not only boring, but since Santiago is surrounded by mountains the entire valley retains the smog and pollution levels are high. I rapidly got tired of this and decided I needed a detour to the coast. The road to Constitution was nice, but very hot.

Constitution itself was not of particular interest, although there were some interesting rock formations along the coast. This is called ¨Piedra de Ventanas¨ (rock of windows).

Leaving Constitucion on Sunday morning (Jan 4) was almost a perfect day. After all that time in the desert, I felt like I was back riding in the Northwest (I really missed you, Don and Herb). The road followed the coastline, through pine forests and farming villages. Timber is a major industry in this area, and it even smelled like Tacoma, with many pulp mills.

There were also many beautiful fields of wildflowers. I was really enjoying the ride and the scenery.

I stopped for coffee in Chanco. While most of this part of Chile is quite modern, I did see one particularly interesting set of gentlemen in an ox cart along the road on their way to market. (

I decided to pass by Concepcion, Chile’s second largest city. After the holidays in Santiago I had had enough of large cities to last me for a while. I ended up that night in Lota, a former coal mining town now fallen on hard times. However, I did stop to ask the local cops for hotel directions and one of them actually went with me and helped me find a place to stay. His name was Milton, and when I told him that was my father’s name he figured I would never forget him. How true! He also was amazed that I went looking for him later just to take his picture

The next morning in Lota was really interesting. As I said, this is an old coal mining town. Since the mines closed about 20 years ago, some of the miners work as tour guides in one of the old mines, something I just had to do. We started off by going 150 feet underground in the old cage elevators… hardhats and headlamps absolutely necessary since there is no electricity and very low ceilings.

This mine extended miles underground, with tunnels even going out under the ocean. The conditions that the miners worked in, particularly in the early 1900s, were appalling. Not too far from slavery. Like many ‘company towns’, even in the US, they were forced to buy their supplies from the company store, often at highly inflated prices.

Originally all mining was done with a pick and shovel, but eventually they got hydraulic jackhammers.

Heading south, I stopped by a beautiful lake for a little picnic, I then rode on towards Puerto Saavedra where ran into 50 km of dirt road. The bad part of this was that they were re-doing the road and it was all fresh, loose gravel. This stuff is absolute crap to ride through, with constant sliding around. It was not particularly pleasant (OK, it really sucked).

However, finally I arrived at Puerto Saavedra, where I stayed at a great little hotel on the beach for the night.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

La Serena, Santiago, and the Holidays Dec 13 - Jan 3

La Serena is truly where the Atacama desert FINALLY ends. There´s all this funny green stuff around that I hardly recognized!

After 4 days resting up and doing some bike repairs in La Serena I took off towards Valle de Elqui. This is one of the wine growing regions. It looked a little different than the sand I was used to.

This is a prime Pisco region. Pisco is kind of like brandy... distilled from wine made from muscatel grapes. I visited the Capel pisco factory while here but frankly, after spending 20 years near the Napa valley, I didn´t learn anything new about the process. Now the tasting... that´s another story.

I had been planning on taking a dirt road that was recommended to me south from Elqui, and the first part was fine. But after a while I hit loose dirt on steep curves. After my experience in the sand (and a still sore back) I figured that if I dumped the bike in this stuff it was going to be too much strain to get it back up, so I returned to La Serena and went south on a secondary, but paved, road. I spent the night in Combarbalá. Nothing special.

From Combarbalá, I took another dirt road south. The road itself was fine, but then I hit a series of three tunnels. As you might imagine, tunnels on a dirt road are also dirt. They are also not lit. This makes it very difficult to tell where the wall stops and the floor begins. I went very slow through these, and after 30 miles went back to pavement.

The last stop before Santiago was the Reserva Nacional de Chinchillas (National Chinchilla Reserve). I figured I would visit my coat, while it still had a personality. The area where the chinchillas live is semi-arid with a lot of cactus. I looked all over and couldn´t spot one of the little suckers. Finally got to the visitor center (I was the only visitor, so had a nice private guided tour) and found out that chinchillas are nocturnal. No wonder I couldn´t see them. It also probably explains why they only go well with evening gowns.

The visitor center was very well done, and they had a darkened section of cages and displays where you could see the chinchillas and other nocturnal critters of the area. So my coat is still alive and well and living in Chile!

I arrived in Santiago on Christmas eve. I had been invited by Luz Muñoz, a young lady I met in Nazca, to spend Christmas eve with her and her mother, which I thought was really sweet. We spent the first part of the night cooking pastel de choclo, a traditional Chilean dish of corn, meat, onions, and other mystery ingredients. My assigned job was to stir. When I asked Luz for how long, she said ¨siempre¨ (forever). Fortunately I only had to stir for about an hour and a half, or until my arm fell off and into the corn mix.

Luz and I decorated the tree, and since we had no proper base for the tree I introduced them to the Panamanian tradition of ¨Christmas Bricks¨. Many Panamanians don´t know about this, but they are used to balance the tree and keep it from falling over (look closely at the picture). Of course, we only had ordinary bricks avaliable, not the silver or gold variety traditionally used in Panama. (Don´t worry, Luz didn´t beleive the story either!)

Luz gave me a couple of biker T-shirts and a balaclava (or is it baklava?). I either look like a biker ninja or an Al Quaida escapee. Luz´s ex had just bought a motorcycle, so we spend part of Christmas day giving him some bike lessons.

After Christmas I went out to the coast, north of Valparaiso, and visited Lucho Palma and his girlfriend Rene. Lucho is a friend of Jaime Brito, the brother of Jose Brito, a friend of mine in Panama (got that). They graciously invited me to their place on the beach at Paduco.

I then headed for Valparaiso, where I discovered that there is no hotel with parking for a bike, and all the parking lots are closed on Sunday. After a few very frustrating hours I returned to Santiago.

I spent new years with some other friends who invited me to a New Years Eve party. Lot´s of fun (the little I remember). The next day Karen walked me around to do some sight seeing (this is Cerro Santa Lucia). Santiago doesn´t have a reputation for being a great tourist destination, but there are some really nice parts.

Holidays being over, it was time to get back on the road.