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|01/30||-Landed at 9:00 a.m. local time (5 hours ahead of California time) The first item of business is clearing customs. Then we'll pick up our baggage, then, maybe, our bike.
-I did point out to Luis (primary staff after the triumvirate) that there are advantages to making sure the tandems get on the first flight. They are, one, they move two riders out of the airport (and thus don't need to bus) with each tandem bicycle, and two, the tandem riders are pretty sure to ride.
-1:30. We (about thirty riders without bikes who didn't fit on the bus on the first trip) are sitting outside the airport, waiting for the bus to return and take us to the hotel. The primary topic of discussion is the prognosis for the Odyssey 2000 success, given the need to AGAIN hire another plane to complete the air transportation. Tim said it cost him $130,000 to send the plane back to get the rest of the stuff. At that rate, we're wondering how long it might be before TK&A goes bankrupt and abandons the trip. But we admit we only have a small piece of the puzzle. Could be there's no monetary problem at all -- only inconvenience. Only TK&A really knows.
-3:00. Finally! We checked into our hotel, Hotel Liberator. It's a small, old hotel right in the center of the older section of town.
-Santiago, Chile is a big city. We are told it has a bigger population than all of Panama.
-After a nap and dinner, we took a walk. We found several pedestrian-mall type of streets leadig away from the main drag where our hotel is located. After several blocks we came across the Plaza De Armas -- a sort of central park. Both the pedestrian malls and the plaza were loaded with locals out enjoying the mild Sunday evening.
-At the plaza, we watched a few artists creating paintings with spray paint. There were a variety of entertainers and local artists vending their wares.
-Of course, there was the requisite statue in the center of the plaza. This on was in honor od Simon Bolivar. We even attended a mass for a few minutes at the cathedral on the plaza.
-And the really wonderful thing is, now that we're south of the equator, it is both warm and light fairly late into the evening. I think just that change will change many riders attitudes.
-Simply because we will no longer have to race the sun to get our 90 miles in. We now will have at least 13 hours instead of barely 10.
-We got some good news this afternoon. Because of the 35 hour fiasco making the 5 1/2 hour flight here from Panama City, We're going to stay here another day. That's great! It will give us a chance to get some sleep and to see more of this large and interesting city.
-By the way, we're now 5 hours ahead of California time.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
-This morning we slept in. I 'til 8, Lisa 'til 10. I checked and found the bikes hadn't arrived last night or this morning as expected. The staff thought they might arrive tonight.
-We went for a walk with Larry and Joan. Found a large rock (about twenty stories high and six square blocks) that is basically a park with the colonial governors "castillo" on it. We walked in an open gate to explore the building. When we went into an open door that actually was a service entrance to the kitchen, we ran into a building custodian. He graciously gave us a tour of the house and told us some of the history. On the way out, he had to unlock the gate for us. We had apparently walked in when the automatic gate was momentarily open.
-Then we walked through more of the neighborhoods of "Colonial" Santiago on the way back to the Plaza De Armas. We stopped at a few stores. Bought some pastries, and misc. items.
-The stores and markets all handle sales in a way that's different from what we're used to. No self serve. First you find what you want. Then you get a clerk to write up a sales slip for you. Then you take that to the "caja" or cashier and pay. Then you take the receipt back to the clerk and pick up your merchandise.
-The plaza again was filled with people enjoying the beautiful summer weather.
-Leaving the plaza, we headed for the "street of ice cream parlors" as we called it. In three blocks there were at least a dozen ice cream parlors. We chose one that had at least fifty different flavors. Had to go through the same buying procedure described above, only this time we got a number with the receipt. Then you waited fir the ice cream servers to call your number.
-We strolled through a bunch of inner malls on the way back to our hotel. (These "inner malls" are actually the ground floors of buildings that take up an entire city block. The outside perimeter of the building looks like a normal office building, full of small stores. But these buildings have wide sidewalks at the center of each block that lead through the building to the next block. These sidewalks cut the first floor of the building into four quarters, thus creating twice as much store front frontage.
-At dinner we got the news that the plane with our bikes is on the way to Peru. It won't arrive here until sometime tomorrow night. That means we'll be here another day. (We'll have to pay for these two days somehow. Will it mean longer miles per day? Or will it mean we'll lose a couple of our future days off? When and where I wonder?)
-We're scratching our heads to come up with something else to do tomorrow. Probably we'll take a walk thru another neighborhood that we heard might be interesting.
-Everyone seems to be antsy about the additional day off -- but there's not much we can do about it. Just hang loose.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/01||-Today was a laid-back day in the City. We didn't get out 'til noon. Then we took the subway (clean, bright and busy -- even on a Tuesday afternoon) to get closer to the city zoo and a big park on the highest mountain in the city.
-We walked from the subway station and picked a restaurant from many that were available. Lisa had a shellfish pizza. I had a vegetarian omelet. Then they brought the chicken and vegetable soup. They were a visual delight. Each had a potato, string beans, carrots, a piece of corn on the cob, cauliflower, broccoli and a large piece of chicken. It was an interesting combination but too salty.
-We proceeded up the street to the park, where we took a funicular -- very steep and quite long -- to the top. There we found a small church built into the hill with several depiction's of the life of Jesus carved into the rock and colored.
-Just below the top of the mountain we found a large outdoor cathedral. Then at the very top, looking down on the cathedral, the church and the city, was a very large statue of Mary.
-Down the street we found a "Cafe" (coffee) bar. I had a cup of espresso. Lisa had glass of some kind of fruit freeze. (I mention the Cafe bar because those are the only places to get brewed coffee. The restaurants give you Nescafe instant coffee when you ask for coffee. We'll probably get used to it though since that's all we can get in many places.)
-When we got back to our hotel we found that our bicycle was here. We found it in the hall on the third floor -- missing the front wheel. A search of hallways turned up the front wheel on the fourth floor. But -- the good news is, when I got it all together again, everything worked. Nothing needed fixing. Hooray! Unfortunately, many of our friends were not so lucky. So they'll be in line for the mechanic tomorrow morning.
-We're looking forward to getting an early start on the 95 mile ride tomorrow to San Fernando.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/02||-160 Km's today, due to an error by the Santiago Police. They escorted us from our hotel to about 50 Km's out -- and took the wrong route. There route added about 6 Km's on the main highway, but they gave us our own lane the whole way, It was incredible. About 8 to 10 motorcycle cops closed whatever street we were riding on to vehicular traffic, then they relayed with each other to close each cross street as the group went through.
-The "Carabinerros" (National Police) picked us up then and escorted us another 40 Km's (in our own lane) on the toll road.
-We made it in by 3:00 today -- largely because the roads were fairly flat.
-We crashed today. Lisa banged her elbow, I scraped my knee and my elbow. We caught the crack between the road and the shoulder when I tried to go around a parked truck. No harm that won't heal, though -- and the bike was not damaged.
-Somewhere in the last few days I received a lot of insect bites on my arms and legs. Now they're swollen, red and ITCHY.
-Today before dinner we walked into town. One interesting thing we saw was an old building that looked like it came out of the old west -- and when you went in, you walked right into a video game parlor. What a surprise.
-Dinner tonight was served by a local club. It was followed by many, many ethnic dances in full costume. Fun.
-Elbert, one of the riders, is about 80 years old. He rides every day, but is slow. Consequently, he has never been able to finish a ride before dark, and, therefore, has always SAG'd in. Well, now that it's light until 9;00, he has more time. At about 8:00, Elbert walked into dinner and received a spontaneous standing ovation. It was the first time he completed a ride on his own. -Everyone was really happy for him. It's actually pretty impressive to think the poor guy was on his bike for 12 hours!
-Shorter day tomorrow.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/03||-118 Km's today. Nice ride. No mountains to climb. A fair number of big hills. The Andes were always off in the distance -- snow visible on many of the peaks. Followed Chile Route 5 all day again today. Shoulders got better and traffic got lighter later in the ride.
-Got in about 4 p.m. today. It's really nice getting in with several hours of light left in the day. (It gets dark about 9.) We had plenty if time to set up our tent, get Lisa a massage, get the bike fixed and shower.
-Speaking of the bike, found out today that the front hub has worn races -- apparently because they were never greased. Now we have to replace the hub. Another problem that we chalk up to poor dealer prep.
-It was over 100 degrees today, yet it was still comfortable. Not too dry, not too humid and a slight breeze-- just right for cycling.
-Lisa was very tired today, but the massage helped a lot.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/04||-Only 99 Km's today -- and we finally got off the freeway! Of course, that meant more and steeper hills, but it was a much nicer ride. Fewer and slower trucks. More homes along, and closer to the road. Except for the architecture of the homes, it could have been a road through the country in many parts of California.
-Unfortunately, my knee started acting up. Remember the crash on the freeway a few days ago when I landed on my knee? That's the knee. The first day it was sore and a bit swollen, so I iced it and took ibuprofen. Yesterday it was swollen a bit more, but not sore, so I iced it some more, took more ibuprofen, and we rode. (Usually bicycling is good for knees.)
-This morning it was the same thing -- swollen but not sore -- so we rode again. It was when we hit the hills that the knee started getting stiffer and more swollen, so we SAG'd to the end. When we got in, Rafael, our staff doctor (born in Santiago, currently practices in New Jersey) looked at the knee and said it needs to be drained or it could cause lifelong damage. He couldn't do it (no equipment) so we made plans to go directly to Concepcion where I could be treated in a hospital.
-We (Raphael, Lisa and I) took a walk into town to check on alternative transportation into Concepcion. With Raphael's help, we lined up a pickup truck to drive us (Lisa, Larry, Joan and I) the 150 Km's into the big city.
-We left about 5:30 tonight and drove tomorrow's route. It was scenic and hilly, mostly through countryside. We arrived about 8:30.
-It took longer because we drove around Tome for about a half hour looking for a banos (toilet.) Tome is a seaside town very European in style -- narrow streets, one and two story houses very close to the street, mostly stucco and wood, mostly drab colors. Quaint and interesting.
-We drove tomorrow's route on the way to Concepcion. Very scenic but unbelievably difficult. Very steep hills. Narrow, winding roads with sharp drop-offs. Lots of logging and lumber trucks.
-We drove around Concepcion for abut an hour looking for a hotel. The driver neither knew the town nor spoke English so we drove round and round and round. -The first hotel we found was a hole in the wall place. We tried to check it out, but no one spoke English except to say it was $40 per night - cash - up front. They wouldn't even show the room before they were paid. Nada. Forget it.
-With a little more creative exploring we found the downtown and a 4-star hotel. Again we had some language difficulty (wish I had taken Spanish in school) but we managed to book a room. Then we went to a nice, American-style restaurant for (late) dinner. There was even live entertainment from a singer and a piano player.
-Tomorrow we will find a hospital where a doctor can drain the fluid off my knee.
-Love, Dad and Lisa
|02/05||-We slept like logs last night. Neither of us even got up to pee.
-This morning we had breakfast then found a laundromat to do our laundry, then headed for the hospital.
-After consultations, x-rays and diagnosis, the prognosis? No problemo. The swelling is due to the trauma. Got a prescription for the swelling, and unfortunately, directions not to ride for two or three days. We'll try to find a single bike for Lisa to ride so she won't have to SAG with me.
-2:30, we're back downtown now. Lisa went with Larry to find a present for Joan. Her birthday is tomorrow. I'm sitting on a bench in the Plaza (town square) writing this email, talking to a taxi driver and people watching.
-So what great revelations have I (David) learned so far in our travels?
-I have found that people have been universally friendly and helpful to strangers.
-I have found that language differences have made things difficult, but not impossible. (I didn't have any trouble understanding what the nurses and technicians in the hospital wanted me to do.)
-I have noticed that driving styles are essentially the same in each country (except that USA drivers are universally less courteous.) The differences seem to be between city drivers and country drivers. In general, city drivers are incredibly aggressive and have little regard for lane lines, signs or even, sometimes, signals. (That is MUCH more pronounced in Panama City than in Santiago or here.) While the drivers in the rural areas are very courteous, considerate and friendly.
-For example, in the city, if there's a space in traffic, there's always two or three cars going for it. The driver who hesitates, loses. Also, the horn usually means, "get out of the way -- I'm coming through."
-In the country, on the other hand, drivers yeild right-of-way and space to others on th road -- even bicycles. They toot their horn when approaching and slow down until it's safe to pass. They even use their brakes instead of their horn when there's any potential conflict over space on the highway.
-We have found that almost everything we can buy in California has been available in every large city that we have visited, including -- much to Lisa's dismay -- No-Ad sunscreen, special shampoos and rinses, vitamins, perfumes, etc.
-Another note of interest is, the servilletas (napkins) in restaurants in Chile are 3-1/2" squares of very thin (like tissue) paper -- very hard to use like we use napkins. (Actually, hard to use for anything.) I think paper must be expensive here. Even bathrooms in restaurtants do not have TP.
-11 pm. We just returnd from dinner. We asked Carlos, the only english-speaking person on the hotel staff, for recommendations on native Chilean food and a good restaurant for-such food. Unfortunately, the restaurant he recommended had none of the native dishes that he recommended, and the waiter was surly -- so we left. We did found a nice little restaurant that had one of the dishes, though, and a friendly waiter too.
-In general, the mealtime customs in all of the countries south of the USA that we've visited have been to have a very small breakfast (continental style), a fairly large lunch, and a late (9-10 o'clock) dinner. Chile is no exception. One thing unusual about Chile is that their coffee is Nescafe instant with hot water. Real coffee is only available at a few cafes, and then only if you order espresso.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/06||-10 a.m. I'm riding in the SAG bus today (per doctor's orders) with eight other sick or disabled riders. All of our bicycles are in the gear truck.
-We changed the pedals and seat height on Joan's bike so Lisa could ride today, so she's out on the road right now.
-The route today crosses the Rio Bio-Bio, just outside of Concepcion, entering what's called Chile's Patagonia. Then it follows the river for about 60 Km's before starting the hills. The route looks really nice. I'm sorry I can't be out there.
-The total distance today is about 148 Km's or about 92 miles. I wonder how Lisa will do on the new bike with a different saddle?
-2 p.m. Camping tonight is in dirt and rock soccer fields again -- but not us. I found a small German hotel in town and reserved a room. It has a queen bed with a private bath, a TV, a table & a chair for $16,500 Pesos -- that's $33 American -- plus a buck for the cab ride. Lisa will like not having to set up and break down camp, -- and not having to blow up the bed -- and my knee will be better served by not having to kneel on the ground.
-I just heard that the last rider is about 76 miles from the end. This time of day, that would probably be Elbert. (Anita would have either SAG'd, hitched or hired a taxi by now.)
-I also heard that there is a headwind most of the way. Lisa will be tired. I wonder how she's doing and where she is? (I'm not worried, though. Lisa is very competent and can take care of herself quite well.)
-4:00. Lisa came in -- carrying her pannier, She said the ride along the river was great.
-She mastered the new bike, tolerated the different seat and learned the unusual shifting. I'm proud of her!
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/07||-128 Km's today. Most of it back on the Pan American Highway, Hwy. 5.
-Lisa borrowed a bicycle from Elizabeth. Different saddle, smaller bike. Lisa is excited and proud that she is doing these rides on her own. I'm a little depressed that I'm NOT able to ride.
-Elizabeth is not riding because she has chest pains and is going to the hospital to get some tests.
-The SAG van is full today. Several knee injuries, a few sore and/or injured butts, and many stomach upsets
-10:30. The "Mash" van stopped at the checkpoint. Of special note is REAL COFFEE. For some reason, most eating places only have Nescafe instant coffee -- including our breakfast today.
-3:00. Tonight the camping is at the Municipal Sports Complex. Camping will be allowed in the grassy infield of the track. A real upgrade from-last night. However, because of my knee problem, we will again be "hoteling" it.
-Larry, Arthur (a very proper Englishman) and I walked to a hotel about six blocks away. It was a 5-star place -- too expensive.
-A very nice lady there (who enjoyed practicing her English on us) directed us to a more modest hotel where we reserved a suite for a mere $30 per couple. And, it turned out, we're only a block from the Plaza and the main downtown.
-On the way back we stopped at a Farmacia (drug store) for a few things. Then we stopped at a hosiery store where I finally found support hose. (I've been looking for three days because my feet and ankles have been swelling badly since our fall.) I left my water bottle there, so now I'm headed back.
-4:00. Went back to the hosiery store to retrieve my water bottle. After a very thorough search, they found it and were very happy to return it to me.
-Then I visited several more Farmacias looking for a particular salve that is both healing and numbing. (For Larry's current saddle sores and Lisa's and my occasional ones.) No luck.
-Again, I was taken by the number of ice cream stores in town. However, I have been unable to find a UPS, FEDEX or DHL to send home the latest photos.
-I walked to the Plaza Armas. (Two ice cream carts on every corner.) It's a very pleasant, park-like area. I read awhile, people watched and watched the city crews scrubbing the sidewalks.
-By the way, most sidewalks in all of the cities that we have visited have a surface of 9" to 14" square tiles that have been laid on a bed of concrete. Most have some design in the tiles. Many have an overall design created by the tiles. In the older sidewalks, many patches of tiles are missing.
-5:39. Lisa and Joan arrived. They rode the whole way. As predicted, the first part (before Hwy. 5) was very nice -- the Highway 5 part was boring and fatiguing.
-Another thing we have noticed is the local bicycles. There were many, many club riders in Panama. There are many, many casual riders in Costa Rica. In the rural areas, most bikes are old clunkers with balloon tires -- usually with only one, or even no, brakes. In the urban areas, there are a few clunkers but most bikes are higher end mountain bikes. Common to both areas are tricycle-vender carts. They have a single drive wheel (one speed) in the rear -- that turns to steer -- and two wheels in the front that hold the vender cart. The vender cart may be a fruit stand, a jewelry display, ice cream, or whatever.
-We'll be sending more photos as soon as we can find a UPS, FEDEX or DHL.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/08||-96 Km's today -- and it's raining. Bummer.
-10:30 a.m. Lisa is riding Elizabeth's bike today. I'm still in the sick & injured van.
-My knee is getting better every day. I expect to be riding tomorrow.
-The checkpoint today is in a perfect location. At a fairly large restaurant with a central fireplace. All the (wet) riders love it. (By the way, in case we haven't mentioned "checkpoint"-- every day, there's a check point approx. halfway through the ride, so the TK&A folks can better keep track of riders. If it's getting late and someone hasn't checked in, they look for you. But unless someone's really lost, they usually know where everyone is, anyway. The SAG vans keep pretty good track of where people are all day.)
-Unfortunately, the restaurant was not prepared for us. It seems TK&A made arrangements with the restaurant some 6 months ago and never reconfirmed. The owners weren't sure if or when we would be coming until the first truck pulled up. That combined with our arrival being a day later than was originally scheduled resulted in the lack of preparation.
-Since they were so swamped, I bussed tables for them. They were so appreciative, they gave me a free bowl of their delicious, Chilean soup. Then Lisa arrived -- cold and wet -- so I gave her the hot soup. She loved it!
-AFTERNOON. Camping for tonight is in a deluxe campground resort right on a lake in the foothills of the Andes. The mountains create a postcard-like backdrop to the lake. The campground is full of private campers, since January and February is the high season here. -It rained off and on all afternoon. Between rain squalls, I managed to walk around the campground. I discovered a herd of Llamas. The owners keep them for the fur, for the milk, and as an attraction.
-They also have a water slide that dumps sliders in the lake. They have a raft to swim off, and they have paddle boats that you peddle. Of course, we couldn't do any of that because of the lousy weather.
-I arranged for rooms for Lisa and I, and Larry and Joan, in a hotel in town. None of us wanted to camp in the rain. Hope it clears tomorrow.
-NIGHT. I found a WONDERFUL Italian restaurant in town. The owner is from Italy. He also runs a furniture import-export business. We visited with him for about an hour before we ate. He's a facinating person. AND THE FOOD WAS PROBABLY THE BEST ITALIAN FOOD WE'VE EVER HAD! If you ever get here, go to the restaurant in the Mt. Blanc Hotel.
-And now Lisa's perspective: I had a really wonderful day today, despite the rain. Tthe last couple of days, I rode with other people, which was fun. But today, I purposely set off on my own in the morning. I went at my own pace, stopped when I wanted to stop, rode up and down hills the way I like to, etc. And it was a spectacularly beautiful ride. I felt free and happy.
-Also, to be fair -- what David said about the restaurant not being prepared is true (but it was great whe I arrived there...). However, with all the complaints about TK&A, this is one area they've generally excelled at. I've been continuously impressed when we've stopped at TINY places (esp. back in Baja),and they've been prepared with lots of food, etc. for 250 cyclists.
-As I said, I've had a good time these last few days, but I'm anxious to get back on the tandem with David. Hopefully tomorrow...
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/09||-5 p.m. This has not been the greatest day. This morning I decided to try my knee out and ride at least part of the 90 miles to Osorno. Nada. My knee started acting up on the first hills, so we decided discretion is the better part of valor, and we took a bus.
-The bus station was just like those in the US. The busses are just like Greyhounds. We thought it might be a problem getting them to take our bicycle, but they were very cooperative with the bike loading. There were about 20 Odyssey riders on the bus and about 40 on the earlier bus -- all headed for Valdivia.
-When we arrived, we saw that almost everyone was looking for a room for the night, so we got a map and headed out. Someone recommended "cabanas" as a less expensive alternative to hotels, so we stopped at the first one that was close to the night's camping location. (The soccer field at the Universidad Austral De Chile.)
-We were looking for a room for four, or two rooms for two. First they showed us a very small room with one bed. Too small. Then they said they could add two foam chairs that open into 24" wide beds -- but there would be no more floor-space in the room. No way.
-Then four more riders came in.
-We told the owner that we needed something larger. He wanted first to show the new people the available room. They also rejected it as too small for their needs.
-Then the owner took us on a walk to a friend's place where there was a small apartment with two upstairs bedrooms. Perfect! And the price was only 20,000 pesos. Unfortunately, the other riders jumped in and grabbed the room. (I probably should have been more aggressive in claiming the room -- but, the language barrier becomes more pronounced as we travel farther south, and . . .)
-Well, when Lisa realized what had happened, she blew up. She read the riot act to the owner. He felt so bad that he took us on a walking tour for blocks while he tried to find us a room -- but no luck. Also unfortunately, it was raining the whole time we were walking around, so we were getting wetter and colder.
-Finally, Lisa started crying and said lets just get a hotel room, no matter what the cost. So we rode a few blocks, found the "Hotel Palace" and booked two rooms.
-Then we took a taxi to the campgrounds to get our clothes. When we got there (now it's 4 o'clock) we found that the gear truck wasn't unloaded yet because TK&A was trying to get some place inside (out of the rain) for the group to sleep.
-That was a good thing -- but for us, it just meant more delay. Well, finally we got our clothes and went back to the hotel. We asked the hotel clerk to recommend a restaurant that was good, close and not expensive.
-Since it stopped raining, we walked to the restaurant by the river and had an early dinner. Actually, at 6 o'clock it was a late comida (lunch) by local standards. Lunch was good, inexpensive and good.
-Then we walked along the riverfront (it was a typical beach town waterfront with lots of tourists attractions), walked around town (watched two one-man bands playing tunes and dancing) and walked back to our hotel.
-Right now (9:45) it's pouring out.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/10||-9:30 A.M. It stormed all night. We were on the top floor so we experienced the storm both in the window and on the roof. It was still storming this morning so we (Lisa, Joan, Larry and I) decided to bus to Osorno and then on to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.
-We were quite challenged in getting the bus. We had some gear with us, some gear on the TK&A gear truck, and our bikes and the rest of our gear at the university gym.
-So, we hired a taxi with a roof rack. We took the gear from the hotel and dropped it at the bus terminal with the women. Their charge was to get tickets for us and our bikes to Bariloche while Larry and I went to get our gear and bikes from the university. We loaded the gear in the back seat and the trunk, loaded two bikes on the roof and one in the trunk, and headed back to the bus terminal. Cost? 6,000 pesos ($12).
-Lisa found out that we had to take a bus to Osorno, then catch a bus from there direct to Bariloche. Right now we're on the bus to Osorno -- and it's still storming outside.
-1:15 P.M., ON THE ROAD FROM ORSONO, CHILE, TO BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA
-The challenges continue!
-Not to happen.
-The bus pulled in, we lined up with our bicycles and luggage, tickets in hand, and waited to be loaded. The conductor grabbed the luggage from the locals, then loaded the first six bicycles he found, and said no more.
-All six of us protested that we had purchased tickets hours before and had been assured that our bicycles would be taken.
-"Tough," said the conductor and driver. "No room. Take the 5 o'clock bus." Since it is a five and a half hour bus trip, and a five hour wait, that wasn't the best idea we had heard.
-To make a long story short, (and give credit to the local Chileans) a local who spoke English helped us get our money back from the one bus line and directed us to another source. And to give credit to Lisa, she got us on a 12:45 bus to Bariloche that took our bikes - "no hay problemas."
-To help make sense of this, I should explain that capitalism is thriving in Chile. There are at least eight different bus lines that connect with Osorna at this station and at least three of them have busses to Bariloche. -Also, every town has many gelatorios (ice cream parlors), farmacias (drug stores), panaderias (bakeries), and a multitude of other repetitive, small business.
-2:15. The rain has stopped, the clouds have lifted, and we're riding through some beautiful countryside next to a large lake. We can see several waterfalls on the far side if the lake, no doubt being fed from runoff from the large storm that passed through last night.
-Lisa and Joan are snoozing again. Larry is reading, and I'm about to start.
-3 P.M. at the Chile-Argentina border.
-We're crossing the Andes Mountains. The landscape is beautiful. Much like the Sierra Mountains except more broad leaf trees. The clouds are hanging on the tops of the mountains. The ground is wet from the rains. Everything has that clean, fresh smell that follows rain.
-The border crossing leaving Chile was a cinch. The Chilean National Bank representative, who was doing tourist interviews at the border, confirmed that rain this time of year is VERY unusual. The farmers are worried about their crops. For their sakes -- and for ours -- I hope it is over.
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