Guest blog – Hannah and Jamie

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El Bolson to Coyhaique

J: Well hello blogland.  I’m Jamie.

H: And I’m Hannah.

J: We are going to attempt (and probably fail) to match the exquisite story telling abilities of Martino and Nessa and guest edit this week’s edition of the blogette.  Featuring thoughts, pictures and reflections from Dr Hannah Davies Diary (soon to be a major motion picture) and videos, photos and musings of Dr Jamie Strachan, alongside some O’Gorman photographic contributions.

H: Before Jamie starts his soliloquy, a few days prior to his arrival we traversed the lush Los Alerces National Park.  Coco/Coralie joined us en route – the fact she was there at all was impressive.  She started her transcontinental adventure in Colombia – in Bogota her bike and all of her possessions (bar passport) were promptly stolen.  I think most people would have flown home directly, but no not Coco.  Within a few days she had bought a new (albeit less expensive) bike and all the trimmings, and set off as intended.  Understated stoicism has to be up there in my Top 3 Favourite Traits.  Perhaps a "No problems only solutions" mentality and "Keep it Simple" mindset completes the list.  Anyway, enough of my musings over to you Jamie.

J: Thanks Hannah – Thannah. So, where to begin. Well I was incredibly excited to be coming on this trip.  Like the rest of the you I had followed M & N (via this very blog) for the last year with envious eyes, and following a flurry of emails and with only a couple of weeks to prepare, I was suddenly at Heathrow terminal 5 bidding farewell to my beautiful loving wife and beginning a crazy journey to meet this lot in Trevelin, Argentina, highlights of which included sunny Buenos Aires, Spanish lessons from a 14 year old boy on a bus, sitting behind a fruit farmers’ strike in the desert (see tractors below!), finally squeezing onto the last bus to El Bolson and getting a taxi 300km at 100km/h through the night (seeing a PUMA!) arriving at a pretty campsite at 0130 and hearing Martin’s voice, before some lovely asado meat.  I had arrived!

The next day after constructing my bike and marveling at the various ways and means the trio I had joined had of living from a bike (see sauces in a box photo…) we set off for Chile! Trevelin was important in the Welsh settlement of Chubut region – it means "Mill Town" in Welsh, and there were a few Welsh place names around.  The sheer scale of the region was amazing, with its towering snow-capped peaks and fertile farms stretching for miles.  Not dissimilar to the Canterbury plains of New Zealand.

What a gorgeous first day in the saddle.  We were searched at the border by the Chilean authorities in case we were smuggling any bees across (we weren’t), and escaped with our canned peaches intact. An insight into the way of life of a ciclista is that there is no better dessert (AKA pudding) than tinned peaches with dulche de leche (like toffee with condensed milk) on top. Mmmmmmmmm delicious AND nutritious…  (H: Delicious BUT nutritious???)

Once you get past Futaleufu – border town in Chile –  the scenery begins to change and Patagonia reveals the glorious, green, mystical and untouched wilderness for which it renowned.

We found places for roadside mirror maintenance, emergency replacement of pannier rack bolt (gulp), brake pad replacement, amusing stances and pointing (?), farms with (instant!) coffee, hat wearing and singing traditional songs with the locals.

 

More lounging for long lunches, hauling ourselves up hellish hills, capturing Chile by camera…

The rain is on a different scale around here – it often feels like people are throwing buckets of water at you.  But the sun breaks through to warm the soul and show you glimpses of the snow on the not so far away mountain tops.  It strikes you just how much the region is defined by water. Waterfalls, rain, rivers, swamps, lakes, puddles and huge green plants everywhere. Incredible.

Tragedy yesterday! My cassette stopped working – no power!.  We were in the middle of nowhere.  Martin took the cassette to pieces in a matter of seconds, tightened what he could and declared it beyond roadside repair.  I stuck my thumb out and travelled down the road in the back of a horse truck!  The little "maestro" at Figon cycles in Coyhaique found the problem, mud had caused the cassette hub spring to snap, and he replaced it with ease.

Coming on this trip has been incredible – even for the short time I have been here.  It is a real privilege to be with great people in such mind-blowing surroundings.  It’s a bit like coming to stay with Martin and Nessa – the bike is their home for the year after all – and they are the most incredible hosts and made for one another.  Martin’s hilarious "lets see what happens" complimenting Nessa’s planning and organization, both sharing a beautiful outlook on life.  I think Hannah – who is also very kind – would agree.  Their world is a big open happy one.

We’re having an asado tonight, playing some Scrabble Lite and looking forward to some more dramatic climbs over the next few days down to Chile Chico where I turn left for Argentina and leave the others on their quest ever southwards… See you soon Blogland. J

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