Monday, March 2, 2009

Back Home After A Fantastic Adventure To South America!

Back at JFK International

1968 Trip to Chile. Tumaco, Colombia. My Dad in the dark pants, me behind him to his right. My brother in the blue shirt. Mom took the picture.
Sun. March 1, 2009

After almost twenty four hours of travel, I am back at home here in the U.S.A.. Saturday evening, when I went to Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago, I had no idea I would be adding another country to the list of countries visited on this trip. I was under the impression that the return flight to the United States would be a direct flight to New York’s JFK International Airport, as it had been on the way down, but three and a half hours after leaving Santiago, I found myself in Lima, Peru. The last time I was in Lima, Peru was in 1968, during a trip to Chile in my father’s private plane. A trip that took us from Rochester, N.Y. to Santiago, Chile and back, in August of that year. Although the stay in Lima was brief, about an hour, it was interesting to be in the land of the Inca once again. At 7:30am this morning I landed at JFK International in New York City, went thru the usual formalities of Immigration and Customs (thank goodness it was nothing like Customs in Argentina!!) and then over to Terminal 3 to await my connecting flight to Buffalo. Now, to plan for next year!

I want to thank all of you that followed my trip, and hope you enjoyed the Blog. Until next year!

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Party Is Over !!

Notice the Elevation!
This is what it looks like up there, looking toward Santiago in the smog below.
Fri. 27 Feb.

Today I decided to go high into the Andes, since it’s my last full day here….nine thousand, two hundred and seventy five feet high, to be exact. Translated into Spanish numbers it would look like this 9,725Ft. That’s as far as I could go as I headed up to the Farellones ski area just outside Santiago. Up there, there are a number of very nice ski villages that have got to be a beehive of activity here in the winter. There are more Restaurants, Pubs and beautiful Ski Chalets up there than you can shake a ski pole at. Unfortunately not a one is open at this time of year. I’ll bet it would be a great place to work for a winter! This is the construction season there. Many people building and repairing things up there today. If you want to go to Google Earth and see where I was, copy and paste these coordinates into the search window:
-33.3334305555556, -70.286275

Other than that, it was a sad day, because I started to pack things away that I probably won’t see until next year. Bike things! Worst of all, tomorrow I have to put the bike away since I will be hopping a plane to New York’s JFK International at 9:05pm local, tomorrow night. 7:05pm for all of you back home. I really like this bike and I’m going to miss it! Oh well, it's been one hell of an adventure!!! Where can we go next year?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Location For Chaiten Announced

Chaiten will be rebuilt 6 miles North of the present location in the area marked "Santa Barbara"
Click Picture To Enlarge.
The Chilean government has announced that a location for the "New Chaiten" has been chosen. Estimated cost $70 million, estimated time to finish the project 2,402 days. Wow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chile / Argentina To Host 2010 Dakar Rally Once Again

Once again, Chile and Argentina will host the 2010 Dakar Rally, after the success of the most recent edition of the event. Chilean government spokesman Francisco Vidal announced on Tuesday. For the whole story go here:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chaiten Volcano Roars Back To Life. Chaiten Evacuated...Again

Chaiten evacuated once again as the nearby volcano threatens the area.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, Chilean authorities once again evacuated as many as 160 remaining inhabitants of the destroyed town of Chaiten as the nearby volcano renewed its furry. Large amounts of gas and ash were spewed high into the air surrounding the volcano, some of the ash falling as far away as Futaleufu near the Argentina border. Authorities flew over the area on Thursday and said the situation is risky for the nearby town of Chaiten because rains could trigger avalanches once again flooding Chaiten. An estimated 4000 people lived in Chaiten at the time the eruption began on May 2, 2008. Many of the residents of Chaiten have resisted efforts by the Chilean government to resettle the town elsewhere. Residents opposed to the relocation, in recent weeks staged protests, cutting access in or out of the area. Chilean authorities stated on Thursday that this "was exactly the kind of danger we were talking about when we decided to relocate Chaiten. "The relocation site has yet to be determined.

Some great recent pictures can be seen here:
Here is a short video of the Chiten Volcano as it is now:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Pictures Uploaded

I have uploaded, to the "Picture Gallery", all the pictures that I took in the destroyed town of Chaiten, Chile. Have a look, don't forget to hit the "Slide Show" button. I have also uploaded the best pictures I've taken on this trip. They will be in the album called "CHILE/ARGENTINA 2009" and remember you can control the speed of the slide show in the upper left hand corner of the thumbnails by placing the cursor up there while in the slide show.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Back In Santiago

North East part of Santiago
I'm back in Santiago, Chile's Capital City, until the 28th of February at which time I return to the U.S. The trip today from Chufquen took seven hours, under warm sunny skies. I have a lot of things to do before I put the bike away again until next year, so I will spend some time taking care of things like insurance for the bike, the 20,000Km. service and things like that. I might even sneak in a trip or two to "El Rancho Del Che" to satisfy that urge for Argentine Steak. Who knows?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Volcanoes and Champagne

Lava field from Volcan Llaima
The Champagne crowd
Sat. Feb. 14

Happy Valentine’s Day !!

I decided to take off to Parque Nacional Conguillio this morning, since I have been lying pretty low since I returned from Ushuaia. The Park encompasses the Llaima volcano that was in eruption last year at this time. The ride took me thru the towns of Victoria, then to Curacautin and then up toward the Park. As I entered the park, I came to a scenic overlook, so I stopped to take a couple of pictures. There were a few other people there at the time, and as I got off the bike and said Hi to them, they asked where I was coming from, so I told them, and before I new it, I was handed a glass of Champagne and offered some home made spicy ham. You know, everywhere I have been, on this trip, the people I’ve met have been so, so nice. I can’t say enough about the people in this part of the world. It’s like, once you strike up a conversation with them, you become part of the family. I mean, here I am in the middle of nowhere on the side of a volcano, and I stop to take a picture, and the next thing I know, I’m drinking Champagne with people I just met! It doesn’t get much better than that! Any how, after a few pictures of me and a few of them, I was off again down the very rough roads leading into the Park. I went up to the Ski Center and then back to Chufquen via Temuco.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Total Distance Traveled

Yellow indicates the trip down, Green indicates the return trip. Blue is Ferry crossings.
Fri. Feb. 6

Looks like the total kilometers traveled during my trip to Ushuaia equals 6,571, that translates to 4,083 miles. That’s from Santiago to Ushuaia and back to Chufquen, my Aunt’s ranch. You can add another 664 kilometers back to Santiago.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Long Haul To Bariloche

A great place to dine in Bariloche
Tue. Feb. 3

Up and on the road at 5:30am this morning! Today I want to make it to Bariloche, not an easy task, it’s a long way! Averaging probably 75 miles an hour, I drove 15 hours before finally shutting the bike down in Bariloche. There were parts of my body that I couldn’t even feel anymore. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to sit down again! After stopping for gas in Esquel, I drove north to Bariloche passing thru the town of El Bolson. A very quaint town full of all kinds of stores for the tourists. This last stretch from Esquel to Bariloche was very, very scenic, and I spent a lot of time riding on the sides of my tires! Any Hoo, one of the main reasons for wanting to get to Bariloche had to do with a place called “La Parrilla de Julian”, an eatery I discovered last year on my first trip to Bariloche. That is where you can get some of the best steak I have ever had! Arriving in Bariloche, I went to the same hotel as last year, right on the lakeshore and got a room. After a well deserved shower, I headed right over to Julian’s for a meal to top off a very long trip. At Julian's, I ordered the 800 gram steak (half a cow), a salad, and an ice cold beer. Julian came to my table and remembered me from last year, because of my bike. Julian makes a point to go to each table and speak with his guests. A very nice man! After a wondeful meal, it was back to the hotel to get some sleep, and in the morning I would drive the final six hours to Chufquen, my Aunt’s ranch. This will be the end of a trip to the far southern tip of South America that has lasted sixteen days.

To Torres Del Paine

Unfortunately the Towers were behind the clouds
Guanacos are everywhere in the Park, by the hundreds
Spectacular scenery!
Mon Feb. 2

Leaving Puerto Natales this morning I headed to Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. It took about two hours to reach the Park, some of the road being gravel, especially in the Park it’s self. The closer I got to the Park, the more beautiful the scenery became. The Park is quite large and I didn’t have enough time to see it all, but I did get to see the world famous towers that the park is named for. Unfortunately the peaks were shrouded in clouds and I managed to take one picture that barely shows them, after waiting quite a while. One interesting thing was the hundreds of Guanacos in the park. They were literally everywhere, some grazing, some sitting and some where playing some kind of game where one jumps on the back of the other one to get a piggy back ride, or something like that. Any how, I stayed about an hour or two, then headed out of the park and back into Argentina to start my trip north. I drove all the way to Puerto Santa Cruz on the east coast, the town that I stayed in on the way south, where the Argentine Army base is. There, I fueled up and went to the same hotel as before.

Leaving The End Of The World Behind

Statue in Puerto Natales
The Hostal I stayed in, I was very well received.
Sun. Feb. 1

This morning leaving Ushuaia and the end of the world behind, I rode out of town in a steady rain. Can’t complain though, because I have been very fortunate as far as weather goes in this part of the world. To come into Ushuaia for the very first time and have a day with no rain and even some sunshine, it’s a good day! After less than an hour the rain cleared up and the sun came out for the rest of the day, although it was still cool and I reencountered those winds once I got out of the mountains. Passing thru customs at the border once again, I continued a short way and came across a group of riders that stopped at a roadside cafe. There I bumped into an aquaintace that I met in Vermont a couple of years ago at a BMW National Rally. The person was none other than Ron Ayers, owner and operator of Ayers Adventure Tours. I had to go in and say hi to Ron, because while in Vermont we discussed the possibility of my becoming a guide for his South American Tours. After my chat with Ron, I continued to the Ferry that would take me back across the Straights Of Magellan. When I arrived at the Ferry to cross the Straights of Magellan again, the Ferry was waiting for me and in minutes we where on our way to the mainland. There were black and white Dolphins following, and playing, all around the boat, but I saw them too late to take pictures as we where just about to reach the other side. The Spanish guy who rode from Alaska to Ushuaia told me I should not miss Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile, since I was so close to it, so rather than going north on Rt. 3, I headed west back into Chile’s Andes Mountains and to the town of Puerto Natales. Shortly before reaching Puerto Natales I came to a police check point were there where two other riders as I arrived. The police asked all of us for our documents, and where we were coming from, and after processing each one of us, let us go on our way. Just as I was going to pull away, the Top Cop came out and asked me, “How did you get from Ushuaia, Argentina to Puerto Natales in record time”? Ooooops!
Ummmm, Well, Uh! I thought the speed limits down here were just suggestions, because even though I was averaging 75 mph I was usually being left in the dust by most drivers, especially in Argentina. Besides, you rarely see a speed limit sign out here. Any ways, he was very pleasant and almost kidding me about it, but I got the message loud and clear! He let me go. I continued to Puerto Natales, where I am now. In the morning I’m off to Torres Del Paine National Park, a very beautiful place from all I have seen of it on TV and the Internet.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I MADE IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a feeling!!
The guy behind my bike rode from Alaska to Ushuaia, you are looking at the end of his six month journey!
The city of Ushuaia, Argentina....Next stop, Antarctica!
Sat. Jan. 31

I MADE IT TO USHUAIA !!! I am at the end of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina. (Latitude: 54°49'49.91"S Logitude: 68°33'46.69"W). The farthest place south on earth that you can drive to. Just want to let you all know that all has gone well so far. I am having problems uploading pictures at the moment and will have to wait until I can get a better connection. The last 50 miles of this adventure made it worth all the pain. Tierra Del Fuego starts out a bit bland, but the closer you get to Ushuaia, the more beautiful it becomes. The last 50 miles reminded me of the Rocky Mountains in Utah, and is your reward for getting here. You are surrounded by huge mountains all around, with lakes tucked into the valleys, and the road is a biker's dream with lots of twisties! The scenery is fantastic. A few days ago, when I was riding thru Chile with Felipe, he mentioned that I might run into a few guys that he met on his travels. He described the three individuals and the bikes they were on. One of the bikes stuck out in my mind because it was an older yellow R1150GS. I never thought much about it because after all, what are the chances of running into the same three guys out here in the middle of South America? Well….as I pulled into the parking area at literally the very end of the road in Ushuaia, a very famous spot for Adventure Riders, who should I bump into? Yep, the three guys that Felipe told me about! One of the guys, a man from Spain, started his trip in ALASKA and drove all the way to Ushuaia and I was there to witness the end of his six month journey. One of the guys offered to take my picture beside the world famous marker at the end of Argentina Route 3 the farthest point you can drive to going south. Then we took a group shot before going into Ushuaia to the hotel they are staying. That is where I am at this moment, the Hotel Canal Beagle in down town Ushuaia, Argentina. I plan to start heading back to my Aunt’s in Chufquen in the morning. A four day journey I estimate.

Next Stop...Tierra Del Fuego

Near Ushuaia, Argentina

What do they say about, a picture is worth.....
"A single glance at the landscape was sufficient to show me how widely different it was from anything I had ever beheld," Darwin noted in his diary as his ship, HMS Beagle, approached Tierra del Fuego.
Fri. Jan. 30
Up early, I hit the road once again. This day’s ride would take me all the way south and onto the island of Tierra Del Fuego, no relief from the winds though. This part of Argentina is called La Pampa, and it is nothing but flat as far as the eye can see in any direction but for the occasional hill. Nothing and I mean nothing to slow the howling winds that come across that waste land. I though to myself, this must be where wind is made, then parceled out to the rest of the world. They have way too much of it here! As I continued south, I saw something I had only seen on television. Wild Guanacos! Flocks of them along the road side just grazing and being Guanacos. They are a relative of the Llama and the Camel, and can clear a four or five foot fence with no effort at all. They can be a real hazard though because they come right up onto the road and you never know what direction they will run when you approach. You don’t want to hit one of these, especially on a bike!
Shortly after passing thru Rio Gallegos, I came to the Argentina-Chile border again. The Argentina part of the customs process was an education. This was the most disorganized border crossing I have encountered yet. As you entered the building, it was just one big room with a line that snaked thru the hall. It was up to you to find the end of the line, not an easy task! First you had to go to Imigracion and then to Aduana. After about two and a half hours of waiting in line, I noticed a commotion behind me. I looked back and could see a person arguing with someone behind a large X-Ray machine, the type you put your luggage thru at the airport. Suddenly the entire room broke out in a protest, all chanting and clapping hands. At this point two uniformed officers came out and approached the counter where you where processed. They ordered the officers behind the counter to stop what they where doing. Oh Great!! I’ve been in line now for nearly three hours and I have only four people ahead of me, and they shut the whole thing down! I asked one of the people who had been in the discussion in the back of the room, what is going on? He explained that it was taking way too long to get thru the process (Steve Wonder could have seen that!) and to make things worse, some of the people doing the processing had gone to lunch. Now I wished I had joined in on the protest! Any way, it soon subsided and in about ten minutes I was up at the counter. The officer took one of my documents, stamped it and said, Aduana, that means Customs. I said, that’s it? To which he replied, Si, Aduana. I stood in line for three hours for a process that took no more that two minutes, total! Welcome to Argentina!
As I left the wonderful Argentina Customs behind and drove south toward Tierra Del Fuego, I had a Ferry crossing to make to cross the Straights of Magellan. They are not kidding when they say the weather in the Straights of Magellan is rough. The wind was whipping and the waves where big. The Ferry was getting tossed around quite a bit on the crossing, and at one point I was a little concerned about the large trucks near my motorcycle, but we reached Tierra Del Fuego without incident. After leaving the Ferry I expected to see more paved road, wrong! From the Ferry landing, all the way to the Argentina border it was all dirt and the day was getting short, although it was nine o’clock at night the sun was still quite high in the sky. Must be because I am so far south. I had to use my reserve gasoline at this point, but I was told by more than one person, that I could find gas in San Sebastian. By the time I reached San Sebastian I was pretty low, and as I entered the town, I looked for a gas station. What gas station, the officer at the border asked? There’s no gas here in San Sebastian. If you want gas you have to go to San Sebastian 12 kilometers farther east. Oh! Great! And I’m on fumes! Everyone failed to mention that there are TWO San Sebastian’s, one on the Chilean side and one on the Argentina side. That would have been a real handy piece of information to have, right there! Any way, I made it just as the guy was locking up the gas station for the night, but I managed to get fuel. I asked the gas station attendant, where I could find a place to stay and he pointed to the place right next to the station so I went over there to see if there was anything available. Nope! So I had to drive another 80 kilometers to Rio Grande. I found a nice place right in the city.

To The Atlantic

At the Atlantic Ocean after riding across South America. If you are wondering why I'm standing at an angle, it's so I don't get blown over by the wind.
Thu. Jan. 29

Today I rode from Chile Chico to Puerto Santa Cruz in Argentina. The border crossing at Chile Chico was the easiest I have ever encountered. I was in and out in fifteen minutes, if that! As I rode east on Argentina Rt.43, I came to the small town of Pico Truncado, on the eastern side of Argentina just before you get to Rt.3 south. There I had to make a decision, take the dirt road to Rt.3 or the bit longer but paved road. I chose the paved road, as I had been previously riding two full days of rough dirt in Chile. This decision was one that would come back to haunt me. As I drove north east on the short stretch of Rt.12, I got a taste of what everyone had been warning me about. The winds! I have never, up to this point in 34 years of riding motorcycles, ridden in such high winds. Most of the time was spent trying to lean into the wind at about a ten degree angle, except for the instant of relief as a large truck came from the other direction, and you had better be prepared for that! As the truck would go by there was an instant relief from the on slot of the wind followed very soon by a blast of wind that almost blew you off the road. Not fun! This went on for about forty minutes, until I reached the east side of Argentina and the Atlantic Ocean. I stopped along the shore and took a picture as I had now driven clear across South America from shore to shore. Now I headed south on Rt.3 that ends at the bottom of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina. Now the winds where hitting me from the other side, but with slightly less force, which was hard to tell at times. I continued riding until I reached Puerto Santa Cruz, a very nice, well maintained town because there is an Army Base there. There I fueled up and found a hotel for the night.

Heading To Chile Chico

Carretera Austral (Southern Road)
Carretera Austral is a rough gravel road that runs down the middle of the Andes Mountains in the south of Chile. How's that for breath taking scenery?
Wed. Jan. 28

Leaving Coyhaique this morning, Felipe and I headed south on Rt. 7 to the small border town of Chile Chico. Most of the day was spent riding around the second largest lake in South America, Lago Buenos Aires or Lago General Carrera, depending on what side of the border you are on. The lake straddles both Chile and Argentina. This has to be one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen, because not only of it’s location high in the Andes, but because of its deep turquoise colored water. As I said, this is a big lake and the road around it is rough dirt and gravel, so it took the best part of the day to ride around it, stopping once at a roadside Hostle to get something to drink. Continuing on, we arrived at a fork in the road, Felipe and I stopped and had a gentleman that was sitting near by in a pickup truck, take our picture together with our bikes. After the picture, Felipe and I shook hands, said good bye and Felipe went West toward Puerto Yungay and I went East to Chile Chico. In Chile Chico, I fueled up and found a hotel for the night. I went to a local restaurant for dinner and met an American from California that had ridden his bike all the way down to Ushuaia, and was now on his way back. We had a conversation for a while and he filled me in on much of what I would encounter on my way to Ushuaia. One thing he mentioned, and I have heard it from many sources, was the hellacious winds I would run into on the east side of Argentina. He was very helpful.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Off To Coihaique

This Guy is Good!!
City of Coyhaique pressed up against the Andes
Tue. Jan. 27

I left Chaiten early this morning, about 8:00am and headed south not really knowing where I would end up for the day. I wasn’t on the road very long, before I came to a Police check point in front of the regional Police station south of Chaiten. The officer motioned me to stop. He asked if I had stayed over night in Chaiten, or elsewhere. It looked as if they where collecting information regarding where people traveling in the area were from. He was quite impressed by the BMW, and mentioned that he was also a Moto Officer, as he pointed to the two Police Honda 250cc motorcycles on the porch of the station. A very pleasant person. As I went on, I came to a large suspension bridge that caught my eye, so I found a spot to take pictures from. Now, you have to realize that I was standing at the base of the bridge in a valley completely surrounded by very tall mountains, and the cloud cover in the morning was extremely low. I say this because, above the completely overcast sky, I could hear the drone of a small plane passing over head, and I thought to my self, how is this pilot going to get thru the clouds to land with out hitting a mountain? The next thing I saw was a little Piper Cub pop out under the clouds and fly up the valley. This guy is good, I thought. He obviously knows the area very, very well. I took my pictures and continued on. At about noon, I reached the small town of La Junta where I stopped for gas at the Copec. Mind you, I was fairly low on fuel, even though I did have spare gas in the gas can I carry, but when you pull into a gas station in this part of the world, and you are low on fuel, and the pumps at the gas island have been ripped from their moorings, it gives you cause for concern, to say the least. There where two guys ripping the island apart, so I asked if there was gas and one replied, si, and pointed to a pump near the corner of the building. I was a bit relived. After filling the tank and paying for the gas, I got back on the bike and turned the key, pushed the button, and again, “Click, Click, Click”. This is not good! After the beads of sweat subsided, I thought, there has to be something else going on here. What else would be killing this battery? Then I thought, I wonder if the battery terminals are lose, so I popped off the seat, took out a few tools and low and behold, both terminals were slightly lose. After tightening them, and reassembling the bike, which is not easy when you have so much stuff on the back seat and don’t remove it, the bike started up. It has been starting normally since, so I guess it may have been lose terminals all along though they where not very lose but I was able to give them each a quarter turn. OK, back on the road. I hadn’t gone more than a few hundred yards, when I came to a road construction road block. The flag lady told me the road was closed until two in the afternoon due to blasting that was going on a little farther down the road. Great! Now I have nearly two hours to cool my heels, so back to the gas station I went. As I pulled in, I noticed there was another BMW R1200GS parked there, so I got off my bike and wandered over to the guy that looked like he had been on the road a while and we struck up a conversation. Seems he is from Brazil and was also on his way south. We talked about the must see areas along the road south and after two hours of that, Felipe and I rode south together the rest of the day. We are now in the city of Coyhaique where we found two different hotels because it seems there is so much tourism here that most of the hotels are full. We found two hotels that each had only one room available, so we took them. After settling in, we met again and went out for dinner. Coyhaique is in a spectacular location, and as you approach from the north on Rt. 7, you suddenly come around a curve high on a mountain on the opposite side of the valley and you see the city pressed up against the base of a high mountain on the far side. Very impressive!
In the morning we will ride to Chile Chico, an all day ride to the south again.

Chaiten, Chile

The Button given to me in Chaiten!
On the Main Street in Chaiten........not a soul around!
That sign says "Yield"..... yield for what? It's a ghost town!
Ash piled up like snow drifts!
Total destruction!
Dogs guard what is left!
Mon. Jan. 26, 2009

I don’t know where to begin with this story. Last May, the volcano that looms over the southern Chile town of Chaiten roared to life after some 7000 years of dormancy. The ensuing ash that fell from the volcano, mixed with the river that used to run around Chaiten, causing the river to change its course. The river, choked with ash, now took the path of least resistance and that was directly thru the center of Chaiten destroying everything in its path. Unfortunately, it didn’t just pass thru and continue on its way. The river brought with it tons and tons of ash and water, and after the water dried, it left tons and tons of volcanic mud everywhere. A minimum of two feet of mud, in the streets, in the houses, in the businesses, EVERYWHERE! In some places all you could see was the top of the houses sticking out of the mud. Even the local cemetery was covered.

You might say, the town is dead; but after being here for a day and seeing the devastation first hand, that up to now I had only witnessed from the safety of the Internet, and after speaking with many of the residents of Chaiten, it is obvious that the town is not dead. I rode around the parts of the town that are accessible, and witnessed town’s people with hand shovels, shoveling the ash from the streets. I likened it to trying to empty the ocean with a thimble, after seeing the enormity of the work that needs to be done here. I witnessed municipal workers maintaining the grass in the main streets in a town that is for all intents and purposes abandoned. I saw a few large machines grading the streets to remove the ash, or repairing damage caused by the force of the water that ran thru Chaiten. You might say Chaiten is dead after seeing it, but spend a little time here, and you will learn that the spirit of Chaiten is still here. Here in the few people who have bravely returned to claim what is left of what once was a very beautiful town surrounded by the high Andes Mountains, and a volcano that most residents didn't even realise existed, since it had been dormant for seven to nine thousand years.

I went into one of the two grocery stores that have reopened, and I spoke with the woman that owns the store. She explained how difficult life is now in Chaiten with no running water, no electricity, one Physician who bravely returned. She told of her husband and son that suffer from Asthma, in this town where everywhere you look there is volcanic dust in the air. She told me of how hard it is to live here always dependant on a generator, if you are lucky enough to have one. This is not a rich town, at least not monetarily. As I spoke to her, a man came in to the store to buy a piece of bread and a tomato, to make a sandwich right there on the spot. You see, with no electricity, you have no perishable food available. I tried to buy cheese, and couldn't because there is no way to refrigerate it.
After speaking with the store owner for quite a while, I said goodbye and walked out to my bike. As I went to get on the bike, the man that had been in to buy a tomato and a piece of bread so he wouldn’t go hungry, approached me and asked where I was from, I told him. He then unpinned a button from his "T" shirt and handed it to me. The button reads, “Chaiten, Entrada A La Patagonia”. Translated it reads “Chaiten, Gateway To The Patagonia”. He told me to keep it as a rememberance of Chaiten. It almost brought me to tears! This man, who by looking at him you could tell didn’t have much, was kind enough to give a perfect stranger, something to remember him and his beloved town by. I thanked him, from the bottom of my heart and I snapped a picture of him as he jumped into a pickup truck with a friend, and drove away. Everywhere I’ve traveled in Chile, the people have been so, so kind, but the people of Chaiten are something special. I hope that someone who reads this story, and sees the many images I’ve taken in Chaiten, I hope that if they can help, or if they know someone who has the capability to help rebuild the lives of the people of Chaiten, I ask that they please contact me.

It’s been almost a year, and the only help to the town of Chaiten has come from the people of Chaiten. Where is the Chilean Government? It’s not right to abandon a town and its people the way it has happened in Chaiten. “Chaiten, Zona Zero... Zero Luz, Zero Agua, Zero Apoyo. That’s what the makeshift sign in town read…"Chaiten, Gound Zero... Zero Light, Zero Water, Zero Support!"

UPDATE: The government of Chile has decided that it will no longer support the town of Chaiten because of the danger posed to the public by the nearby volcano. It stated that it will relocate the town farther north in one of two locations to be decided in the next few months.

UPDATE: On Thurday Feb. 19, 2009, Chilean Authorities once again evacuated Chaiten due to the threat posed once again by the volcano. See the latest post above.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Good Connection

The vessel "Don Boldo" that will take me to Chaiten
Quellon, Chile, on the island of Chiloe
Ancud, Island of Chiloe, Chile
Salmon Farms on Chiloe
Playin on the pile
In the wood pile outside my room in Chiloe
Sea Lions in the Chacao Canal
Ferry heading the other way
The GS on the way to Chiloe
Since I have a fairly good Broadband connection tonight, I thought I would put up some other photos for you. Remember to click on them to enlarge the picture. The pictures are reduced in size to minimise upload time.

Somebody Had A Very Bad Day!

I wouldn't want to be this guy!!

No idea what happened to the driver, hope he's OK!

Sat. Jan. 24 PM

After this mornings the battery incident, I continued on to my intended destination which was the Ferry landing in Pargua, on the mainland just this side of the island of Chiloe in southern Chile. I hit it just right! I arrived just as one of the vessels was docking, and in just a few minutes, I was on the Ferry waiting to head across the Chacao Canal to Chiloe. There were two large trucks and a half a dozen cars and vans on board and one motorcycle. As we headed out into the open water you could spot the occasional group of sea lions with their heads sticking out of the water and once in a while you would see one jump out of the water then disappear again. The weather on the crossing was windy and it was sprinkling on and off. In about half an hour, we were docking on the other side. As I exited the Ferry I immediately drove thru the little hamlet of Chacao and then on to Ancud about twenty minutes away. In Ancud, I stopped at the Shell station to gas up because I’m getting in the habit of filling up as soon as the gauge reads half. They say that once you start down the Carretera Austral (the primitive road on the Chilean side that leads south) you don’t want to pass up a gas station, or you might be sorry. That is the reason I am carrying a 10 liter gas container. After leaving Ancud, I headed toward the Capital city of the island of Chiloe, Castro, about half way down the island. On one stretch of road I came upon a very serious accident that had occurred hours before. A large truck came down a long hill and missed the curve and went over the guard rail and rolled several times. I have no idea what happened to the driver, but as you can see from the pictures, it wasn’t good. Chile doesn’t seem to have the world’s best drivers! I continued on to Quellon where I managed to find a room right next to the Ferry company office. Now they tell me that the ferry will not leave until midnight Sunday because of bad weather. It’s pouring here at the moment. This is just like going to Alaska in summer. Cant’ wait to see what awaits me as I push farther south. I must say though, that I was very comfortable riding in the rain and cold today thanks to the heated clothing I brought and the very good rain suit I have. Thanks again Don!!