Slept late, and then when I got to the showers for a cold shower, there wasn’t even any water !! Grr. Went hunting, and managed to get it turned back on, but just as I was about to get in the shower (well, sprinkle a bit on me more like – It was very cold water !) it went off again. Not willing to end up all soapy and the water going off again, I gave up, filled the car water tank up (yes, the water to the normal taps was working OK !!), and set off. Hardy is a young lad in the camp site and speaks very good English, and has been very helpful to me in translating for me. I also learned a new word from him – Manguera means Hose !! Thanks for your help Hardy – Keep the English going – You are doing so well.
Wound down the road towards Santiago – Being an active volcano up here (Volcan San Jose – 5856 m), this road from San Jose de Maipo back towards Santiago is a designated Evacuation Route in case of eruption ! The river down the valley I quite big and fast flowing, and San Jose is a sentre for rafting and other adventure sports – In fact the camp sites primary raison d’etre is as a White Water rafting centre. Nelson is trying very hard to make it into a great facility, and I can recommend it highly as one of the few camp sites within relatively easy reach of Santiago. (I am sure they will fix the water issue in the showers soon ! But, unlike many other places in this part of the world, they do have seats on their toilets, so are therefore highly recommended !!) The camp site is located at S33.37.958 W 070.21.110 in San Jose de Maipo, about 40 minutes SE of Santiago and clearly signposted on the right just before you get into the actual town of San Jose de Maipo.
Easy getting out of Santiago and onto Ruta 5 south – A toll road highway that I was to be on all day. I am tempted to say it was boring because it was straight, well sign posted, and a smooth surface, and it went down a big valley with the (occasionally snow capped) Andes to the east, and small hills to the west. But the boredom was relieved by a number of things during the day :-
1) It was so good to be back on the road again that I was on a bit of a high – Especially after 12 hours sleep last night ! Without Janet to keep me awake while driving, I had my music blaring and enjoyed the day.
2) Being a toll road there was about 6 or more Peaje booths – and at almost every one the girls in the booths were giggling at my “lack of a steering wheel” on the LH side, and called all their friends over for a look before they would let me go ! Poor people behind must have wondered what was going on !!
3) Some really great Petrol stations- primarily Shell and especially Copan. They have restaurants, but more importantly toilets AND showers, both of which are extremely clean. They also have large parking areas out the back where you are not only allowed to park over night, but even encouraged to do so ! All for free. Some of them even have laundry facilities, although unfortunately the one I stopped at for the night was broken ! Would have been perfect otherwise !
4) And in the middle of the day I picked up a hitch hiker ! Nick, a Chilean, who was riding his bicycle from Santiago to Punta Arenas to find work. The long straight road was so boring after 2 days of riding that he has decided to get lifts as much as possible until he gets to Puerto Montt, where he will be riding the Carratera Austral, the same road I am going on ! Luckily I had a the bike rack on the back so was able to take him until near where I stopped for the night, when he decided to keep going. He has very little money and when he runs out he does juggling and fire-stick twirling at traffic lights in order to earn some money !! Interesting lad, and luckily his English was slightly better than my Spanish !!
The whole road is amazingly industrialized – Endless wine and fruit growing, and all the infrastructure that is required. Several Del Monte plants, and a number of other less well known ones, plus of course lots of wineries. I really haven’t seen this degree of industrialization since leaving the USA, and was quite surprised by it all. A lot of traffic on the road too – Not quite sure where they are all headed but get the feeling that it is a lot of local summer tourists heading south to their Lakes District for a holiday – We will see once I get there.
I was going to make a detour to the east to the foot hills of one of the volcanos for the night, but because the petrol stations are so good, and also because I have decided to make a couple of detours on the way south anyway, I decided to give them a miss – I have seen quite a few volcanos already on the way south, so no big deal – Can’t do everything !
SoI pulled over at about 6 pm, just outside Chillan, cooked up some spag bol, and made a feast with some local red wine and pan from the gas station shop ! Bit warm, and the sun stays up till about 9 pm, so will have to wait a while before I can get some sleep. Tomorrow the plan is to head towards Osorno where I intend to head east into Argentina and Bariloche for a few days. Too many people have said I need to go there, and it doesn’t take much to persuade me to cross the Andes again – Especially now I have new brake pads !!