1300 meters climbing and 1300 down, 19 km gravel
It was wet and cold over night. The tent was soaking when I packed it away. One of the riders, Ray, had stoked up the campfire again this morning and it was burning well and made us all much more cheerful as we all huddled around it to eat breakfast (it did of course make it harder to leave camp).
I was not in a hurry to leave especially as the first 3 kilometres was up a steep, wet, and slippery gravel road.
After this however we were on a highway and then side roads without much climbing, until the last 16 kilometres. It was really cold, I had all my warm weather gear on. There was snow along the mountain tops and it is hard to imagine that two weeks from now it is summer here. Most of the houses had fires going and looking at the smoke coming out of the chimney I wished that I was curled up in front of a fire (in a house) also.
There are hundreds of orange poppies along the side of the roads and some red ones as well. These have been around since the day we crossed the border into Chile and are very bright and pretty. The highway is really busy with endless trucks, and I was pleased when we turned onto a side road. Day two of the Lake District section of the trip and no lakes seen far!
I stopped at about 40 kilometres at a petrol station and had a coffee with caramel in it, usually I would find this too sweet but it just hit the spot perfectly.
Just before the 19 kilometre dirt road I stopped in a small town and sat in the plaza drinking a power aid. I could hear some really loud birds that I had not heard before. After looking for a while I could see them up in the trees, they were quite big, with a curved bill, and loud voice. Later I found they would be with us for most of the rest of Chile, and are called Buff Neck Ibis, and they have a metallic and repetitive call (the book I read this in should also have mentioned “and really loud”). They live everywhere: at the beach, in fields, rivers, and in suburbs. The other bird that has reappeared is the vulture, which we haven’t seen since we left Peru.
The 16 kilometres of gravel had some quite steep bits with thick gravel, and was wet and slippery, so I got off a few times going both up and down.
The camp had clean toilets and a hot shower – an unexpected bonus. It was sunny when we got there so we were able to dry out the tents before putting them up, but it was not warm enough to wash and dry any clothes.
The dinner tonight was uninspiring: one small dry pork chop with sloppy rice.
One of the new riders, Laurie, missed a flag just before the town, and instead of riding 154 she ended up doing a 200 kilometre day. Cristiano offered to pick her up but she wanted to complete the day riding and ended up coming in about 9pm. Two of the other riders had put her tent up for her which she was very pleased about. Understandably she was not pleased to find after a 200 kilometre ride that she had one small dry pork chop and sloppy rice for dinner (it would have been even less inspiring 2 hours after it was served).