Chiloe island, penguins, churches, beautiful nature, nice people and landscapes like at home
Because traveling by bike is normally really slow, doing 1100km in 2 days feels like using a teleport… 700km in a truck, sleeping at a gas station, 400km with pickup + 30min at a boat and we are in Ancud – first town on island Chiloe (this isn’t a typo ;)).
We say goodbye to our second driver Marco who told us many legends, something about history and current situation. Chiloe is known by it’s architecture and original population. There are national parks, many wooden churches protected as UNESCO world heritage and diverse fauna and flora. Interesting are the myths and legends about monsters and people (e.g. Trauco – ugly, short, humpback man who has a magic power to seduce every woman and if there is unexpected pregnancy and the father is unknown, it’s always Trauco. Marco warned Jan to watch me :)).
After short visit of the town we continue more to the west. Hills, camps, forests … just the coast reminds us that we are not in Slovakia.
We get to the penguin beach just before sunset and the sign with prohibited camping isn’t a nice welcome. But at the restaurant they advice us to build the tent behind the building a little up on a hill.
Great view to the bay, warmth of the bonfire, company of another traveler and a young couple from the restaurant make very nice evening.
We don’t want to pay for a boat trip and go with borrowed binoculars for a walk to rocks on the beach from where we are able to see the black and white birds. They are scurrying on the nearby islands and some even jump to the water :). They’ve been living here since ever but were discovered by scientist only 20 years ago because the locals were calling them with different name and nobody knew that there are penguins – such a tourist attraction.
After the ZOO visit we sit again on the saddles and by a 5km detour full of steep uphills, beautiful cliffs and view we return to a paved road.
After 100km we turn again to gravel road. The landscape is incredible but we still cannot get why they build the roads so straight here – sometimes even passing top of a hill! Because of the combination of bad gravel and really steep inclination we have to push a lot but cannot go fast even in downhills…
In one of long uphills a truck passes us and I return in my memory to Cuba where such a truck full of people stopped, they put our bicycles up and gave us a ride in this perfect company (bottle of rum going around) to the town..
Dejavu? The truck is waiting for us, and the guys help us with the bikes up … today it’s without the rum and only 10km but still it’s a big help.
Another hour through a country without people (it’s Sunday, everybody is on a soccer match) and tired we get to Coipama and build our tent next to a house. We get hot shower, some food, wine from a tetra-pack box and talk with them till late evening.
We get up early and soon join the Ruta 5 – main road from north to south of island. At a former school building we pause for coffee and paila (scrambled eggs) and talk with the lady and a neighbor. The lady also watches a small baby – 17-years old mother is in school and Trauco – the father – doesn’t help :D.
The talkative and still smiling man tells that many schools here were closed (he went to this one) and now the children go to bigger schools with dormitories.
We leave the Ruta 5 and continue on a hilly paved road to east to Cemchi – small touristic town without many people (it’s low season now). Lunch, food shopping and along the coast we pedal to south. Jan swears with every uphill and he wants to be at home, sit in front of TV and eat cakes :D. After some time it gets better when he describes the beautifully colored alley of trees with the green grass and clear sky in background as “it isn’t that ugly” :D.
In one downhill a common situation is repeating: a dog notices us and start to run after us. But this one (maybe he was too excited from the hunt) doesn’t look carefully at the road and … he get’s a life lesson and is born for second time because a car hits him and he’s lucky to survive when he isn’t run over by the tire. So many times we were wishing that this happens to those barking bastards, but now we are a little pity.
Today’s destination is wooden church in Colo. We build the tent just next to this UNESCO world heritage building (it’s like camping at Chichen-Itza :)) and two local dogs spend the whole time with us.
Next days is up-and-down on dirt roads again and then down to the coast – there is another wooden church in Tenan. Unfortunately the chirch-lady has a lunch break next 3 hours and she’s not coming back because of us …
The way back up is surprisingly easy and fast. Then again down to waterfalls and we are thinking again if there will be any other surprise there – but logically, they cannot just turn off the water :). We pass a gate, follow the road and we hear some lady from a house next to the road… entrance is 2 dollars. Really??? First, nowhere is written anything about paying and second, why they charge to see a nature?
We refuse to pay and go back … it’s only 1km detour but I’m so pissed off. I check all the signs around and because I don’t see anything about the entrance fee I do them a favor and write it on one of the signs very visibly – so they can have only happy customers.
Another 2 hours on curvy roads we get to Dalcahue where is another church. This one is in reconstruction and closed and because of 4-m wide fence we are not able to see almost anything … fortunately, the churches are not the goal of our traveling :).
Breads with pate and coffee at the square and after we are not successful at carabinieros we find a place for night at a garden of a nice older couple.
After a long and cold downhill (Jan tells mi at the end that he could cut glass with his nipples :D) we reach the capital of Chiloe – Castro. It’s couple minutes before noon and and the hardware store is still open so we buy a canvas and rope for the rainy days in carretera austral. Rest and internet at the square, buying tickets for ferry and visit of an open church.
The funniest thing on some of the “wooden churches” is the usage of metal nails and sheets on the surface which should look like stone bricks (?!).
Another church in Nerone, we buy coke and vine and have a pause next to a road. We’ve been in hurry in last days and we are tired and sad…
The wine and chocolate helps to better our mood, we just sit, talk, enjoy the moment and look at the sea… Orcas!!! Killer whale??? Killer whales!!! Great – under us is a mother and calve and they swim around for next half an hour. This is the moment you can experience when you stop, look around and enjoy the present. Satisfied, with good mood and happy we bicycle 2 hours more.
We are leaving early because we are camping next to a school and the children start to arrive before 8am. Today’s 60km are quite fast and at 3pm we get to Quellon, fill gasoline, eat, do big shopping and after a beer with a Dutch we go to the harbor.
Last wooden church next to the road and we join the couple cars, one bus, four big motorbikes and 8 cyclists are waiting for the ferry…
Carretera austral, we are coming! :)