12: In Puerto Montt

Day 17 (11th Dec.)

After breakfast, we rode to the welding shop and asked for Harry Meyer, the owner.  As it happened, he arrived in his pick-up just after we arrived, along with an Italian colleague, Luigi, who spoke good English and to whom we explained the problem with our bike, i.e. the stripped thread on one of the sidecar connecting points.  He suggested that it would be far better to detach the sidecar and replace the defective threaded section rather than weld a piece of metal over the defective connection.  We agreed with this.  Our kind host of yesterday, Rodolfo – Harry’s brother – then arrived and took charge of the matter.  The welding shop, as we’ve termed it, was actually a sizeable engineering workshop with a number of lathes and other pieces of metal-working equipment, all of which instilled some confidence in the repair process which was about to begin.

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It was going to take a few hours, so although a bit anxious about the procedure, we decided to wait in a small café opposite the workshop.  After several cups of coffee, some sugary doughnuts, and getting out our crossword book, the time went by surprisingly quickly. Luigi came in to buy some lunch and we chatted for a while about his past involvement with bikes.  He apparently used to test ride Suzuki and Yamaha bikes for Italian racing teams before the races, at a time when the late Barry Sheen was in his prime.  He had even ridden the Isle of Man TT races, and had had a very interesting past. Then, another person entered the café….we both recognised him to be Ivan, the motorcyclist we’d chatted to at the Pan-American Highway services a few days earlier on our way to Puerto Varas!  None of us could quite believe it and all the more incredible was that he had known Rodolfo and Harry Meyer and their father for more than 20years!  He invited us back to his house, which actually fronted the Pan- American Highway and was about 10 minutes away, to continue our wait as the welding shop had closed for lunch.

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We listened with interest as Ivan described how he’d been detained for six months by the Pinochet government, possibly because of his family left-of-centre views, but he had done nothing wrong himself.  Following his release, he had exiled himself to Canada (his mother was French Canadian) and had stayed there for a number of years before returning to Chile.  He had become a successful Civil Engineer with homes in Lican Ray, Puerto Montt and Chiloe, and was now retired.  What a small world….with Puerto Montt being a town of some 250,000 inhabitants, the chances of bumping into Ivan were pretty small!

When we returned to the garage in the mid-afternoon,  the bike was ready and had been cleaned and polished.  Rodolpho was amazed to see us with Ivan, so we explained how we had met.  When we asked for the bill, he insisted that he only wanted a token amount for the repair which was very kind of him.  We said that if his son ever came to England, as he apparently wanted to, he could stay with us, given that his father had been so helpful and kind to us.

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