Howard & Elsa in Chile - II

We left Santa Cruz after three days and headed for Chillan, a good size town, where we navigated the
streets and found a quality hotel on the main plaza. Checked in and then visited the Escuela Mexico for the murals. Next day up to the mountains and the hot springs (termas) where we stayed in cabanas and swam. The following day to the waterfalls, Salta de Lajas, and camped the night with the locals. Big crowds gathered in the area as summer months are on down here, with hot temps.

Parque National Tolhuacha was next on the agenda. I was told the road was rough but very doable. It would be about 45 miles to the termas so off we went. I really wanted to test ourselves with our heavy loads on the bikes. The ripio (gravel road) was easy after getting used to it. The area was small farms, an army base and zero traffic. We stopped to take pictures of flowers and smell the roses. All was well and we made it to the national park, took pictures again and congratulated ourselves, we only had about 3 miles left. One mile up and I hit the hard scrabble switch backs, not gonna do it, so I turned my bike around, muy dificil. Headed down hill and down I went. By this time I figured Elsa was having some difficulty so I left my bike on the ground, and walked downhill to find her on the ground off the trail her bike in a ditch. She was taking her gear off the bike and was okay. We got her bike sorted and out and went up hill to sort mine out. Out of breath and feeling REAL old, but we were ready to go. At this point a Honda xr250cc comes down from where we were heading. A Chileano with a large back on his back explains that the road was muy malo, I had figured that out by myself. We rode together down to the park were he camped and we headed to Temuco.... were it was time to sort out my bike. The starter switch in the handlebar was messed up. Got info from pals in the states, but also found the local BMW mechanic, a fifth generation Swiss fellow. Did I mention that we were exhausted from the and spent the
night in a Holiday Inn Express? Any port in a storm!

Well here we are in Puchon, Chile. The outdoor capital of Chile. River rafting, kayaking, hot springs, mountain bikes and another triathlon this Sunday. The town sits under Volcano Villarrica which smokes 24/7 and has a ski area on it. They say the there are lava chutes that are natural half pipe runs. We plan on staying here a while. How long is just a guess at this point. There is a route with beautiful scenery and lake ferries to Argentina that can be done in one day or so. Plan is to see that area and still stay in Puchon, the Chilean Aspen... Mucho beautiful people on the streets..


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