May 31, 2007 GMT
Down on the Farm!

This month it's all been about tractors!


We hung out at the Cabanas in San Rafael for another week or so, and enjoyed being with friends.

At Cabanas Calderon

While there we sampled the local nightlife with Val and Adam, dancing til dawn at a local disco (and I got chatted up by a 25-year-old!) We also went for a fantastic ride along Canyon Atuel which was a great way to spend the 'year on the road' day.

Twisty roads

Amazing rocks! With Grant and Jules in Canyon Atuel

This immediately went down as of one of my most amazing rides; it was stunning. The road through the canyon wound its way through gullies and around multi-coloured rocks, past flooded valleys - flooded for hydo-electric power - and twisted its way along next to the river..

We then took ourselves out to the finca for a few days - and stayed almost a month! It was great. We helped out with all kinds of jobs and thoroughly enjoyed a different kind of lifestyle for a bit.

Phil's birthday on the finca - good to catch up with him for a few days before he left for home

Hame and John fixing up the shower curtain, Annette and I painted the walls; Phil did the tiling

Makin' stuff

Makin' more stuff

The finished product. House security a la John and Hame! They managed to get every window and door done.

Annette and I making cement for a new patio

Filling holes

Hame enjoying the tractor!


Oops... Hame did manage to get it stuck however...

I think Hame fell in love with the tractor. While he was ploughing between the olives it was hard to get him to stop once he'd started. And both he and John developed rather a passion for reading 'Tractor and Machinery' magazine...

Ooh, Massey Fergusons! John Deeres, ploughs!!!

It wasn't all work though, Annette and I sneaked off a couple of times to play golf...

Golfing girls

John and Annette bought the finca over a year ago, and have worked incredibly hard on it. When they bought the farm it had walnuts, vines and plums planted. Amongst one million other jobs they have planted one thousand olive trees, more plums and modernised the house. They've also dug lots of new irrigation canals and cleared up the land. It has been hard work, but the place looks great and I hope we get to see it in a few years when its all finished!

Just behind the finca, at sunset, Andes in the distance

Hame and I found it all very interesting and made us realise we'd enjoy a similar life, though who knows where! Water day was particularly fascinating. Water is channelled for 23 1/4 hours once a week, and has to be carefully channelled all over the farm to make sure everything gets watered.

John building dams on water day

Last is filling the pileta - the tank which supplies water to the house, for everything but drinking (drinking water comes from a tap in a nearby service station). Hame and I did some of the watering and enjoyed it a lot.

We bought John and Annette six chickens as a leaving present (although we didn't leave right away) to go with the two ducks, three dogs, cat and rabbit.

One of the ducks enjoying water day

I loved the ducks, they were top of the pecking order and bossed everyone else around!

A new addition to the family

Annette introducing the quacks to the chooks!

The food on the farm was fantastic - Annette made sure we left with several extra kilos. We had to leave before we grew out of all our clothes...

Notice the strap used to keep Hame's trousers together - after he became unable to do them up!

Which brings me to my pic of the week, something Jules and I found in the local supermarket...


It was sad to leave as we'd enjoyed the farm very much, but as Annette said, there's a time to arrive, and a time to leave. We arrived as strangers and left as friends, and had a really great few weeks. It was also getting bloody cold and as we've been following the cold weather North for the last six months, it is high time to find some sun. Thanks guys, for such a fab time.

John and Hame at the top of the pass into Chile

John rode with us as far as Los Andes in Chile where we shared a Chinese meal before heading off the next day. Luckily the pass wasn't as cold as we thought it might be, but it was a tad busy...

Trucks on the pass

We continued to Santiago, to see Heather and Richard (we stayed in their flat last time, back in November, although they weren't there), and their son Michael and his wife Nina; also to collect parts for the bike and a package from home. It was good to catch up with the Davies family and we were made very welcome.

The Davies family, with Richard and Heather at Michael and Nina's house (

Hame taking Richard for a ride

Thanks to Heather's cooking I had my first encounter with chocolcate mousse in rather a long time - it was delicious!

No, I didn't eat the whole bowl. But I could have done!

Heather and Richard also took us to their weekly Scottish country dancing lesson. Fortunately there are no photographs because Hame and I were pretty atrocious! Richard took me golfing which was great fun, although I didn't win any prizes...

Hame and I rode out to Carlos's house to say thanks for all his help repairing the shocks (Carlos is the Wilbers agent in Santiago) when we were in Coyhaique. His house seemed to be an informal bikers' club.

Phillippe, Carlos and Hamish

While we were there we met several interesting people, including Phillippe, who took us out to the BMW dealer. Phillippe had five bikes, including a new BMW 1200GS and a Yamaha MT 01, the latter being the only one on the road in Chile. It was a 1700cc monster and Philippe foolishly suggested Hame had a go... fortunately he behaved himself and came back beaming from ear to ear!!!

Er, can I have my bike back please?


A few days later our parts arrived. Many thanks to Adam and Yvonne for sending them from Houston.

Throttle body rebuild kit

For a while now the throttle bodies had been rattling; a result of the butterfly shafts wearing out. No big deal, however if left, would wear out the throttle bodies themselves, an expensive replacement.

After contributing a considerable amount to Chilean Customs, I collected the new shafts and intake manifolds and headed back out to Carlos's place, who kindly let me use his workspace to rebuild the throttle bodies.

Carlos's Place

An afternoon later, no more rattles! All that remained was to balance the throttle bodies the following day. Carlos introduced me to Jose, a reputable BM mechanic who possessed the neccessary vacuum guages. Half an hour later and the bike was running as sweet as it ever has. To celebrate (as if an excuse was needed), I shared a beer with Carlos and his partner Marie. Many thanks for your hospitality guys.

For anyone travelling through Santiago, in need of 'moto TLC', I'd recommend both Carlos ( and Jose ( Top blokes!


We took a day trip to Valparaiso, a port about an hour and a half from Santiago. It was a fascinating town of jumbled up multi-coloured houses stacked on top of each other up the hills, beautiful old colonial buildings and a huge port. We stopped for fresh empanadas at a local cafe and discovered the owner had a Scottish grandfather... what a surprise!

Garage in Valparaiso

A house in Valparaiso - they come in all shapes and sizes...

Colourful Street

Trolley bus, Valparaiso

View of houses on a hill

One of the many vernicular railways in Valparaiso

The police in Chile are pretty cool, they whizz around the streets on XR 250s, occasionally popping a wheelie at traffic lights...


Our plan from here is to ride back over the pass to Argentina, heading roughly East to Buenos Aires. We hope to hook up with Grant and Julie on the way. We'll then ride to Iguazu falls, into Uruguay, up into Brazil and across to the Pantanal, then Bolivia, Peru and then finally North... it's all very exciting and we're looking forward to exploring it all. Having said that, the way our plans pan out we might find some other fab place to spend a month or so...



Posted by Emma Myatt at May 31, 2007 06:57 PM GMT

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