February 16, 2009 GMT
Leaving Valpo

If in a journey an unavoidable/unexpected detour should present itself, itīs best to accept the detour as part of the trip and enjoy it as best one can. I know those words are true, I just didnīt think I would have to live them so early.

Normally, the first thing I think about in the planning stage is what great scenery Iīm going to see, the activities about to be undertaken, and maybe even how lovely the weather will be. What isnīt on my short list is how la gente, the people, will be a critical part of the journey, other than giving overnite shelter or directions to the next destination perhaps. In all my preparations for this trip, I did not consider the first leg would be all about the detour and la gente and little else.

IMG_0957 Ramon, Anita, Joyce.16.JPG

But in the photo above are three of the most important people on my unexpected detour (AKA 26 Days With Sciatica). Ramon, who drove us to hospitals, therapists, drug and grocery stores; Anita, his wife, who provided english-spanish translation over the phone to various health care providers; and of course, Joyce, who takes such good care of me rain or shine.

IMG_0956 Claudio Guzman.16.JPG

Two other Chileans stand out like no other as well. Claudio Guzman, a Shiatzo massage therapist (not sure what that means but he did help me heal). Senor Positivo - if there ever was a man alive that fits the description, Claudioīs it. He gives us a delicious bottle of vino dulce when say goodbye. We enjoy his most thoughtful gift for 4 nights on the road.

Copia de IMG_0962 Consuelo Jaegar.JPG

And the equally skillful, compassionate and knowledgeable physiotherapist, Consuelo Jaegar. Literally, I couldnīt have been in better hands. If the beginning of the journey meant spending time on an unexpected detour, well then thank God it was in Chile. I am so obliged to the la gente here.

IMG_0965 Esmeralda, P, msc.15.JPG

Incredibly, Consuelo arranges for a tour of the historic 4 masted sailing ship, Esmeralda. This is the ship all Chilean sailors must train on. Consueloīs friend, Francisco, a lieutenant in the navy, instructed cadets for 8 months on a trans Pacific voyage to New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. The tour is incredible and a true highlight of our time in Valparaiso. Thanks again to the lovely Consuelo.

IMG_0992 Ube on Bumblebee.15.JPG

Finally on February 18th we are ready to leave Valpo. Ramon and Ube drive us to Vina del Mar where our bikes have been awaiting us, safely stored in the basement of the Hotel Ankara. Hugs all around, almost tears. Ramon presents Murray with a beautiful Alpaca wool toque. One last photo of Ube astride the Bumble Bee and we off ... destination 1136 km South, Puerto Montt and the Navimag Ferry to Patagonia.

Posted by Murray Castle at February 16, 2009 07:43 PM GMT

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