Carretera Austral (3)
I left Puyuhaipi (or whatever this place was called) during a short rain pause - and arrived 200 km later completely soaked in Chaitén. The last 50 km had been like driving though a very long car wash, just without getting cleaner.
Luckily in Rita's place, a very basic and low-budget but cosy hostel, there was a kind of fireplace where I could dry my stuff.
However there was no point in drying my bike suit since the next day I rode into the Pumalin park to have a walk - and got completely soaked again. Would it ever stop raining?? The worst thing is that always very shortly after it starts raining, I sit in a puddle of lukewarm water (since the seat catches the heat from the engine), which is like sitting in your own pee. How can we be flying to the moon and still not be able to create really waterproof bike suits??
Southern Chile's landscape is extremely green and seems to consist mainly of steep mountains and swamps. So it's not really a place for human beings but rather for frogs. The frogs were even feeling well enough to sing all night on the lawn of Rita's Hostel - right under my window - although it was just a normal lawn, not a real swamp. However due to the incessant rain it had turned into a kind of frog-friendly swamp, just like the entire town. When I complained about this "beautiful" summer to a native, he just answered indifferently "Well, that's what it's like". You really need a tough personality to survive here...
The Parque Pumalin is a private park, founded and funded by Douglas Tompkins, who is as far as I remember the founder of Esprit and The North Face and therefore a multibillionaire and luckily also an environmentalist. He bought immense estates in this area with the aim to protect the rainforests from commercial exploitation. By this means he virtually cut off southern Chile from the central and northern part, which obviously caused some criticism, especially with Tompkins being a "Yanqui". Some years ago Tompkins donated the Park to a Chilenean Foundation which takes care of it. The park was declared a Nature Sanctuary in August 2005.
After the wet but beautiful walk in the Pumalin Park, I would have liked to pamper myself in the close "Termas", a vulcano-heated natural spa, but the rainstorms got worse again, so I preferred to stay in-house and have a bottle of wine instead (Frustsaufen). The next day - when I was preparing to hit the road (or better: to hit the ferry) again - and to eventually leave the Carretera Austral northwards, the sun finally came out.
Posted by Winne Lichtblau at January 09, 2006 09:16 PM GMT