24: Pucon to Santiago de Chile

 Days 63 – 68 (26th – 31st Jan.)

Day 63 (26th Jan.) At Motocamp
A number of termas (hot springs) are located very near to us at Motocamp, so we visited one of them today, Los Pososnes, to continue our chilling-out experience at Motocamp. We were not disappointed – the termas was a short ride away through picturesque hills and pastures and several small villages, with a few Ostriches grazing in the fields. The hot springs were situated 150 steps down from the car park, next to a fast-flowing river. They remained very natural, being enclosed by large rocks, in contrast to some we’ve seen previously where the hot water is diverted into conventional swimming pools.
We soaked in all five pools. The temperature varied only slightly between them, and we managed to easily spend four very relaxing hours in them (leaving very wrinkly!)
We head off tomorrow on Ruta 5 since it’s the quickest way to get north of Santiago, some 500 miles away, which will be the next main leg of our trip.

Day 64 (27th Jan.) Motocamp to Victoria
In the afternoon we de-camped and had a sad farewell to the staff at Motocamp. We headed into Pucon to fill-up with fuel and joined a lengthy queue of tourist traffic into town before heading on towards Temuco where we joined Ruta 5 (the Chilean part of the Pan American Highway). After about 100 miles we diverted off at a small town, Victoria, to look for somewhere to stay as by now time was getting on and we didn’t have any accommodation booked. All we could find was a Hospedaje which was basic but cheap. We’ve decided over the weeks that our accommodation will be fine so long as it’s clean and has secure parking – after all, it’s only a place to sleep at the end of the day and we would rather spend our money on a nice meal or an unusual experience rather than more expensive hotel rooms.
Mark parked the bike in a yard behind the hospedaje, shared with a number of hens and several dozen tiny chicks scampering about in the dust and dirt. Luckily the bike was not affected by them during its overnight stay in the yard!
Day 65 (28th Jan.) Victoria to Linares
We spent most of the day riding along Ruta 5, not a very interesting road but we saw quite a lot of activity going-on in the hard shoulders. Apart from the many fruit and vegetable stalls, snack bars and cheese stalls, there was the odd person crossing the 2-lane dual carriageway taking their life into their own hands! There were also regular bus stops with passengers waiting idly on the verges. We also saw several horses being ridden towards the oncoming traffic, plus a number of hens strutting about. Bear in mind that this road, Ruta 5, is the main highway linking the north of Chile to the south – in the UK, a comparable road would be the M1/M6!
We stopped off for the night at Linares, a large town with a pleasant central plaza. However, being a Sunday, its many shops and restaurants were mostly closed. Even in the early evening the temperature was high at around 30 degrees, so, not being able to find anywhere open which served cold beer, we cooled down with large ice creams and sat by a fountain under the shade of the many trees in the plaza.
Day 66 (29th Jan.) Linares to Santiago de Chile
The destination today was back to Santiago, the point at which we started our trip some ten weeks ago. After a 200+ mile ride in 30 degree temperatures, we headed for a motorcyclists’ hostel, Casa Matte, which is located in central Santiago. It had been recommended to us by a Canadian chap, Kevin Chow, whom we’d met a few days ago at Motocamp Pucon. We found the hostel very quickly, since getting into central Santiago was remarkably easy, compared to central London. It comprised a large, old, semi-detached house situated in a pleasant, tree-lined road with several restaurants and a supermarket nearby. If in London, I would say a comparable location would be Bayswater which is similarly close to the west-end city centre. Whilst on the hostel’s roof terrace, we chatted to an Australian chap, Jose, and his mum, Vicky, who had together just completed a ten-week tour of Argentina and Chile in an ancient Fiat 600 they’d bought in Argentina. Jose himself had travelled off and on for over 14 years, usually on motorbikes, including BMW F650 in South America and his KTM 690 in Australia. We decided that we all needed a cold beer and food, so went to a nearby local Peruvian restaurant, which they’d frequented previously, for a delicious meal of cerviche and a very enjoyable evening followed.

The owner of the hostel has excellent taste in objets d’art, which happen to be two of Mark’s all-time favourite bikes – Yamaha XT500 and Yamaha XT600Z Tenere
We spent some time on the hostel’s roof terrace updating our blog, reading, drinking beer, having supper, and looking at the Andes in the distance

Day 67 (30th Jan.) In Santiago
Mark needed to buy some more branded oil (Scottoil) for the bike’s automatic chain oiler. We‘d been advised that there was a nearby road full of bike shops that may sell it, so we headed off after breakfast to try and find said oil. However, no-one had heard of Scottoil, never mind selling it. There is, however, an alternative which Mark had heard about on various internet forums, namely chainsaw oil. So, the next job will be to check out local hardware stores for this.
In the afternoon, we relaxed on the hostel’s roof terrace where Mark calculated that we have travelled some 4150 miles since we began our trip nearly ten weeks ago. That may not seem a huge amount, but bear in mind that much of this has been covered on relatively poor roads, some of which were unpaved, some of which were affected by numerous stretches of potholes and some journeys affected by tremendous head- and cross-winds. Also, we have taken time out, probably three to four weeks in total, to relax and explore many of the places we’ve stayed at.

The hostel’s garage area – room for a dozen bikes or so
There’s an Australian chap staying here who’s spending years touring the world by bicycle
This KTM 690 had been ridden down from the USA

Day 68 (31st Jan.) In Santiago
Today we made the most of being back in the city and decided to do some sight-seeing. We headed over to the Mercado Central which houses a bustling fish market in an attractive wrought iron building. It’s a massive place with every type of seafood you could imagine, and more! Unfortunately, the experience was slightly lessened by the continuous hustling of the sellers and the copious amounts of water being poured onto the floor to wash away the fishy remnants. There was a restaurant area in the centre of the building, which looked very nice, but is apparently overpriced for tourists so we didn’t stay for too long.
We then headed over to the beautiful Centro Cultural Estacion Mapocho. This is a de-commissioned railway terminus which is built around an amazing wrought iron structure of numerous columns and roof beams. It was designed by a French architect in 1912 and is now an events venue with restaurants, and is a quiet place to escape from the heat outside.

The cool interior of Mapocho  gave welcome relief from the hot sun
Posing for a photo with two others at another arts centre – they didn’t flinch at all before, during or after the photo shoot!

Today the streets were pretty chaotic with lots of impatient drivers hooting due to many diversions (being managed by the Carabineros – National Police) put in place due to the Formula E (electric car) Grand Prix which is being held here on Sunday. We saw numerous barriers being put in place along the roads, and scaffolding for seating being constructed, so it’s going to get even busier here over the next few days.
We’re really pleased to have returned to Santiago, as this time we have enjoyed it far more than when we were originally here at the beginning of our trip, and will leave with better memories of the city.

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