Friday, 12 March 2010

Better weather and bitey things

After my moan about the rain in our last entry we have, miraculously, not had a grey day since!!! The amazing sunshine has meant we have been able to fully enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the county we are cycling through, and everyday the views along the Caretera Austral seem to be more amazing. As tends to be the ying and yang way with these things however, when the sun came out, so did a huge number of enormous black and red bitey flies, more like pitbulls with wings than the variation of horsefly that I think they are.
Like pitbulls they seem to take great delight in chasing along behind us and attempting to bite at any exposed flesh. The only thing worse than hearing them buzzing round is hearing them stop, as it invariably means they have landed somewhere on you and are about to take a chunk of flesh (and they obviously have teeth the size of a dogs as they can bite through clothing). This has resulted in many hours of windmill like arm flailing (particularly dangerous on a bike) and significantly increased our speed as we try and escape (no bad thing as we seem to have become somewhat tardy in our pace of late!). These, together with the killer mozzies we have been encountering of late resulted in Ja insisting on donning the above outfit involving prety much every item of clothing that he owns before he would agree to put the tent up!!

In the very lovely little hamlet of Puyuhuapi we had a fantastic hospedaje to stay in and made the most of the good weather with a couple of days of sea kayaking. The arm flailing practice we had with the flies turned out to be good practice for the paddling, and it made a nice change to be moving arms rather than legs! Our intention had been to find one of the hot springs that are common in this volcanic region, but we were over enthusiastic in our efforts, ending up miles out to sea instead, where we met a number of penguins and were joined by a pair of seals who were playing with a fish they had caught, and were extremely interested in us and our boat-repeatedly diving down underneath us and then popping up a few meters away!

The towns we passed through after Puyuhuapi on our way to Chaiten were very different; far less friendly and very run down. Wildcamping out of the towns of La Junta and Villa St Lucia would have been preferable to staying there, but unfortuantely we needed to get some work to my bike after I damaged it (and myself, although rather less badly than the bike) losing control on some really bad ripio as we left Puyuhapi.

It was in St Lucia that we first heard about the earthquake, although in fact we seemed to have managed to sleep through it, and weren't able to find out any detailed information about it until reaching Puerto Montt nearly a week later.

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