Days 15 & 16 (9th & 10th Dec.)
Once we’d left our nice hotel in Puerto Varas, our first stop of the day was at a local motorbike repair shop we’d found via Google. The owner was just locking-up as he wasn’t open for long on Saturday mornings – it was only around 10.30am. He was very helpful and gave us the name and number of a specialist automotive welder he knew in Puerto Montt. Once there, we set about finding somewhere to stop to have a drink with Wi-fi in order to book accommodation for a few nights. This proved more difficult than one would have expected and after riding around for a while we headed out of town and spotted a small hotel that looked fine. It was more than fine as the room was in fact a little bed-sit complete with small kitchen area, table & chairs, sofa and bathroom, with breakfast being provided inclusively, and all at a very reasonable price.
The town, Puerto Montt, is a busy ferry and bus terminal for people heading down south into the fjords and onto Puerto Natales which is at the very south of the country. The south road, or Carretera Austral, is not continuous all the way so ferries have to be taken and there are several options which we have yet to decide upon. We have a large supermarket (called ‘Jumbo’) just down the road from our hotel and paid it a visit to get provisions for supper. We’ve been surprised to see that nearly every supermarket and pharmacy we have walked past in Chile so far has had security guards at the entrances and exits, and yesterday we walked past a Vet’s practise which was secured with about a dozen padlocks on the door to prevent intruders stealing the drugs, we presumed! So far we haven’t felt at all threatened when walking about, despite some areas being very seedy and not at all like Sandwich or indeed anywhere in our part of the world (Dover and Thanet included)! There are certainly some very beautiful areas in both town and countryside albeit a common street scene would be more like this:
Today (Sunday) we headed out to find the automotive welding shop we’d been recommended, and were anticipating this to be a bit of a boring task. However, when we located the address it was in the middle of a residential area and far from what we were expecting. By chance, a woman was taking-in her shopping from her car and it turned out that she was the sister-in-law of the welder. We ended up being invited into her house and chatted about the problem with her husband (also a mechanic) over coffee and strawberries in their kitchen! To top it all, Rodolpho and his son took us in their pick-up truck to show us where the welding business was, and then took us back to our hotel! We were so grateful, but they genuinely seemed to enjoy talking and helping us, and we finished off with another photoshoot in the carpark of the hotel.
Tomorrow we head to the welding shop and then, hopefully, on to book the ferry we’ll need before we start heading south.
Mark’s note for vehicle lovers:
There are loads of pick-up trucks of all makes and sizes from small Fiats and VW’s (which seem to be derived from hatchback cars with the rear portion cut off) to huge US Dodges, Chevrolets & Fords, with many Japanese plus some Chinese and Korean brands as well. I want a pick-up when we get back!
There are many Korean cars (Hyundai and Kia), along with a number of Japanese makes and quite a few Peugeots. The Renaults we’ve seen here are branded as Dacia back in the UK. We’ve seen very few so-called luxury cars such as BMW and Mercedes; I get the impression that people go for big pick-ups instead.
Most motorbikes are small capacity, the majority being Chinese albeit there are a number of Japanese as well. We’ve seen very few medium- or large-capacity bikes, probably only around a couple of dozen over the last two weeks – a few BMW GS’s, a KTM or two, a few cruisers, a couple of sports bikes, and I think one Triumph Explorer. Two Africa Twins have been spotted so far, both being the old (original) model like ours.
There are a lot of proper lorries here, namely the ones with long, protruding bonnets and a more menacing look than their European-style, flat-fronted cousins. Some of the bonneted variety are in fact European brands such as Volvo and Mercedes, along with US brands Mack, Freightliner and Kenworth. Some of the articulated trailers are excessively long, at least by UK standards, probably around 50% longer than at home: