Fully rested and stuffed on snacks we were ready to give the Carretera Austral another chance. We loaded the bikes and rolled out as a 2 for the first time in a month, or so we thought…
We had barely left Cochrane, granted we were already climbing, before we realised we had a new travelling companion. This one never moaned. Didn’t need to be taught how to pitch a tent or pack panniers. She was the ultimate lightweight traveller and she was with us for 120km. We called her Esmerelda after the lake that she found us by; Ezzy for short.
The Carretera Austral did not disappoint. The relentless ups and downs continued on a road that went from smooth well-compacted mud to loose rocks that made riding hazardous at best. It felt like I was constantly wrestling a overweight child who wanted to go only to the side where the gravel is loosest. Non of this seemed to matter however as we had something else to focus on; Ezzy.
She would race to the top of the hill where she would wait for us, if I even looked like thinking about setting off before Jess arrived she would give a small bark and start walking back down the hill towards the advancing Jess. On the longer stretches of downhill she would run as fast as she could to keep up, if we did manage to get a little far ahead of her she would give a yelp of protest. The funny thing is we found ourselves braking on the down hills, not wanting to get too far ahead of her, and here I was pretending we were trying to loose her!
It took us just over two days to get to Peurto Tranquillo and the whole time the road was amazing, following the Rio Baker the kayaker in me was loving it, every turn showed yet more rapids in the bluest glacial melt waters. The road constantly climbing then descending back to the river banks. Still tough this road was continuing to give pristine vistas at every opportunity.
It was in these 3 days that we also met the first harem of cycle tourists, they were all heading South for the Villa O’Higgins border crossing but it was nice to finally be able to chat to other cyclists and learn what we had ahead of us. We met 2 couples in as many days who were able to give us valuable information on what lies ahead. We also met our first Brazilians on this stretch, granted they were cruising in a 4x4 but still, the overwhelming friendliness of them put us in good sprits for when we finally get to Brazil.
We descended into Peurto Tranquillo under cloud and rain and again bumped into the Brazilians, Ezzy still in tow after two nights of camping. Cold and damp we opted for a Hospedaje instead of our original plan of camping and we set about getting ourselves on a boat to see the Marble Caves. Ezzy wasn’t allowed into the Hospedaje so she was forced to make friends with the locals and sleep on the street. We felt guilty but at the same time we knew we couldn’t keep riding with her, no matter how much we wanted to. She also wasn’t allowed in the boat but that didn’t stop her trying.
We got a boat trip that afternoon and off we set with some Americans and a snap happy lady from Ecuador, if every Ecuadorian is as keen on photographs as she was, we are in for an entertaining time through that country.
Danny and Jessica living the nomadic dream.