Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monday 28 Feb: leaving the mountains (for now)

Today was a good day, today we found some tandem country.
After another later start, we set out on the paved roads to Villarrica. We had needed to go shopping for groceries, and cancel a debit card (the cash machines here don't always automatically give you your card back, even after giving you cash, and we think we forgot to get the card back from the cash machine in San Martin). It was another hot day, but there was a reasonable road shoulder to cycle on and the traffic wasn't heavy. Having failed to stop for a drink in Lican Ray (we only decided we wanted to stop as we were on the way out of town), we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. Empanadas were on the menu, so we ordered half a dozen and a salad along with drinks. We were both quite thirsty all day, I guess the hot springs are a bit dehydrating. We reached Villarrica in time for a mid afternoon snack on the lakeside, with a view of volcano villarrica. There was actually a large supermarket in town, and we stopped to pick up some meat for tea and some of the packet sauces which are not reliably found in the smaller shops. They also had snickers bars- the first ones we've seen since Torres del Paine!
The road from Villarrica to Freire is the biggest road we've been on since turning onto seven lakes drive last Tuesday. It was wide and again with a good shoulder, and very slightly (overall) downhill for about 20km. This meant we had decent stretches where were actually maintaining 'evens'! It was a great opportunity to stretch the legs and do a good stint without stopping. A nice change from the riding we've been doing recently, and more like the riding we do back home (although we don't normally have a fully loaded bike - we're not Steve Abraham!) .
We've stopped at a campsite next to Rio Allipén. A very basic site compared to
many of the sites we've seen recently, although the owners are very friendly and helpful. We both went for a dip in the river (shock, horror, Emma wearing a swimming costume two days in a row!) . It was rather cooler than yesterday's thermal pools, but quite refreshing. It certainly looked better than the alternative option (a cold shower).
We're now leaving the very touristy lake district and getting into more industrial/farmed areas. It is quite noticeable how the road to Villarrica (alongside the lake) was littered with campsites, but since turning away from the lakes and towards the panamerican highway it took 30km before we saw one. Likewise the morning was punctuated by regular shops selling "artesanal" wooden furniture; this afternoon it was sawmills and then logging yards. Also this afternoon we've started seeing the first real commercial fruit farms and have even seen fields of (poor quality) corn.
Tomorrow we head to Temuco and try to arrange a teleport north. Today wasn't a big mileage day, but satisfying nonetheless.


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