Wednesday, January 8th
Distance – 237km
Leaving Coihaique our trip could not have been going any better. The weather was great, maybe a little overcast. The roads were beautifully paved. Our route took us out of town and into the mountains. It was a little chilly up at the top but nothing to complain about.
Perfect motorcycling pavement.
We had to stop for pictures when we saw this. What a blast to ride, perfect camber and tarmac the whole way down.
The gang takes a break.
We are getting friendly after a week together; cuddles all around. We didn’t quite get the road in the background.
Out lunch stop was a couple of buses pulled together to make a diner. Fortunately, the views were spectacular and the weather great because we hit at their busies time. It took us 30 minutes to get coffee. One thing that is funny about Chile is the coffee. Everyone loves and serves Nescafé instant. The double bus diner.
Lunch was a huge homemade burger the size of a plate with avocado spread on top.
Cats seem to like sitting on the KTMs wherever we go. Dogs are everywhere too. Here at the dinner, they had an old, one eyed Heinz looking for scraps and treats.
After lunch, we came to the end of Tarmac ½ a mile on from the dinner. I was immediately struggling int the gravel and could not figure out what had happened. It seemed as though a few hours on pavement had made my forget everything. Turns out that I wasn’t the only one with problems. The road was marbly and strewn with babies heads. Later, everyone complained of the same issues as me.
The weather deteriorated over the rest of the day, clouding over and then turning to rain. It did help with the dust but not the visibility. After a while, I was running with my visor up and having my face stung. At one point, Martyn stopped so he and George could put on rain suits. I hadn’t brought mine figuring the Kilimanjaro would suffice. That was bad planning on my part. At points, I would stop to drop my arms and let water pour out of the sleeves.
Martyn, George, and Simon decided to use the stop as a cigarette break. After a little grumbling about be cold and wet, they told us to carry on and they would catch up. It was a poor decision all around, and led to disappointing experience. After 30 minutes or so Simon caught and passed us. A while later, in the midst of a full on downpour, MacBean stopped under a tree offering respite from the rain. Having seen Simon, we excepted George and Martyn at any moment. After a 10 minute wait, we decided to turn back. Rob and MacBean took the lead and raced up the track passing a pickup after a kilometer to two. Martyn jumped out of the truck and waived me down. George had come off his bike a couple of corners prior and a “caballero” had stopped to help. George was quite a bit worse for wear and they were talking him to the clinic in the next town, Puerto Tranquillo.
I went off to find MacBean and Rob while Charlie went to survey the bike damage. They had stopped a ways up the road and turned around when I reached them and gave them the news. We pulled all the gear and fuel off Martyn and George’s bikes spreading it around between us. As we were doing this Simon showed up. He’d stopped a half mile further on and then driven back and forth looking for us, thinking we were playing games. We set off as fast as we could given the conditions and heightened safety awareness.
Shortly after a turn off for Puerto Murta, we flagged down a cop with lights on to ask how far Tranquillo was – 25km. Little did we know he was off to see George and Martyn who had been diverted to Puerto Murta. Arriving in Tranquillo, we found that they were not there but were now in Murta 30km back the other way. We refueled and turned around and headed back out like drowned rats. I was as cold and miserable as I had ever been. I could only think of one worse day, when we’d been caving and got stuck in a flooding cave.
Finally, we reached the posta (clinic) in Murta to find George in good spirits and Martyn relieved. George had a concussion and they were transporting him back to Coihaique for observation at the hospital. There was no way for us to make the return journey to Coihaique. There were also no rooms available in Puerto Murta, so we would have to return once more to Tranquillo. In the middle of the clinic, I stripped down and grabbed dry clothes from my bag and felt much better.
The weather picked up as we head back and had stopped raining by the time we hit town. We found a cabaña after hunting around a while. There were a group of BMW riders we’d run into in La Junta and Coihaique and another threesome we’d met at the bus lunch who were helpful in finding us a place.
We knew it was going to take a while to sort everything out, so we paid for two nights up front. The place had two wood fired stoves which we got cranking and soon had our gear laid out and steaming. After showers, tea, dry clothes and knowing George was well, we were soon in high spirits.
The policeman who’d been to the accident site, picked up both motorcycles and brought them to his house. He stopped by the cabaña, which was next to the police station, to tell us.
On the way to dinner, we walked passed a yard and saw to bikes in it. On a second look, we realized they were George and Martyn’s and he had his German Shepherd guarding them.
Tranquillo is a small town but we managed to find a small place with decent food and good wine. The Breckenridge whiskey made an outing that night as we got back to our steaming sauna accommodations.