January 22, 2003 GMT

When we wrote last we were just about to board the Ferry in Puerto Natales, Chile. Wow, what a trip, it was definately the way to go as there are no roads in Southern Chile and the only other option was the notorious Route 40- a rough gravel road in Argentina running along the top of the Andes.

Pat and Luis enjoyed the break from driving and Belinda enjoyed the break on her bum! We sat back like a couple of oldies on a cruise ship and read, ate, slept, OK- we did party a bit too and Belinda even excelled at Bingo, though always yelling "Bingo" too late!!! The cruise was expensive at US$250 each, but we probably saved that much on maintenance on the bike, tyres etc!!

We arrived 3 days later at Puerto Montte, Chile and went straight to the seafood market and had the best feed of mixed seafood soup and Chillean Salmon- Yummo!! The scenery around the Chillean Lake District was awesome with gorgeous, quaint, German-style lakeside villages everywhere. Currently Chile is way more expensive than Argentina, so we splurged for our last night in Chile and had a lovely lakeside cabin with cable TV!!

Next morning we drove through wonderful scenery, crossed the Andes and back into wonderful Argentina. January is a terrible time to travel in Argentina as everyone else is travelling and the Cheilleans are over here too, cause its so cheap! We had a lot of trouble finding accomodation and ended up in a backpackers on the top of a hill in Bariloche. It was 11pm when we finally arrived there after checking heaps of places to stay- all completo- (full). We were following a guy on a motorcycle up a dark, sandy road climbing the hill to the backpackers, when the inevitable happened- we fell- first fall in the trip! Luis came around the corner behind us and thought we were getting robbed! He jumped off his bike in persuit of the robbers, only to find that there werent any!! Pat, with a little help from Belinda, picked the fully loaded bike up, swore a bit and we continued unhurt to the "bloody backpackers" as Pat called it. cont...

We moved out next morning to a lovely place in the centre of Bariloche and awaited the arrival of Luis¨s family, Oscar, Nancy and The Bustas!! We had a midday sleep in preparation for the sleep deprivation we knew we were going to get when the Notorious Oscar and Crew arived!!

Bariloche is a gorgeous ski town- a bit like Jasper in the Rockies in Canada. The next day our wonderful travel companion Luis left with his fantastic family. I hope they realise what a great son they have. Luis was the ideal travel companion- really easygoing, prepared to try anything, talk to anyone and would follow Pat anywhere- no questions asked!! All ten of us were crying at his departure- a part of us was going home- I am crying even as I write this. The only problem with travelling and meeting great people is the inevitable goodbye- but its better to "love and loose, than never to love at all ". Bye mate- we will never forget you.

For the next few days we rode, explored, ate and partied in the arms of "Oscar and crew". We couldnt keep up and "hit the road again" 4 days later in search of some sleep!!! We said goodbye to the "troops" on the side of the road- we didnt want the people at the hotel to think that all Australians do is cry!! We really enjoyed the company of our friends from Viedma- our Argentinian home- and were all in tears again as we rode off into the future and the final stages of our trip.

We rode about 200km per day, stopping at lovely little villages until we got to Valle Grande, near San Raffael. We met a great Chillean family at a service station and they told us we must go to Valle Grande. Well it was fantastic- a wonderful road following a Huge Gorge down to a lake and then a whitewater river. The river had many lakeside cabanas, rafting companies, ski boats- just our scene. We stayed for a couple of days "playing" in the water. We went down the river on a surf ski and it was awesome!! Pat had an out of control boat and tipped 3 times (maybe it was him that was out of control!!), Belinda yelled out "undalay, undalay" (faster, faster)- it was such a hoot!!

We are now in Mendosa- the wine capital of Argentina. We are getting some work done on the bike in preparation of selling it in Santiago in the next few weeks. With all these wonderful families we keep meeting Belinda is getting a little homesick for her wonderful family, especially her 2 year old nephew Daniel.

Posted by at January 22, 2003 03:16 PM GMT

Dear Pat and Bin, we are a few sad because you now aren't with us, we remember the champagne and chin...chin...We wish that you have a great moments always, and good, good trip.-Keep on being nice people every time.-

Posted by: Familia Knecht on January 27, 2003 12:39 AM GMT

hi how are you!!!?? we hope you remember us, we are the argentinians that had known in a restaurant, in the bolson, bariloche; alejandra, gabriel y nadia.
we hope receive some e mail from you soon, and you be fine!
we will love to see more pictures about the places you have gone this year!!!

Posted by: alejandra on February 18, 2003 04:11 PM GMT
Sorry, due to heavy form spamming, Comments are OFF.

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