We said goodbye to the looming majesty of volcan Villarrica when we left Pucon (photo 1). We rode together over the rolling hills and open fields. The wind was at our backs and the roads smooth ahead. We all remarked how similar the landscape was to northeastern United States. It is strange to travel so far and find nature so similar to what we are accustomed to back home. We stopped at a hospedaje in Lanco, Chile and asked about the price of a room. It was a little over our budget. We thanked them and chatted about our trip and what we are doing, thinking that we'd continue pedaling until we found a wild camp out of town. After hearing more about our journey the owner said she would let us have a room for a quarter of the price. For us it was yet another affirmation of the generosity and compassion we've been met with on our adventure. When we asked her about why she had been so generous, she replied that she thought we would do the same and that she was always happy to help young people follow their dreams. She wanted to be supportive of us on our adventure and seemed proud to be able to be able to help (photo 2).
The next day, we made it to the ocean in Mehuin, Chile. We had seen the Pacific before, but only as inlets amidst the mountains. This was our first real day on the coast and we watched the sun set into the ocean with elation (photo 3). We looked forward to many more beach days and west coast sunsets to come.
The next day, we continued on newer and almost flat roads, again with a tail wind. We flew and took pleasure in the feeling of light hearts and open road. We road along river deltas and when we stopped to get food for lunch in a small town, a women at the store invited us to eat and rest at her home before continuing - she explained that although her town wasn't considered a tourist town, it had a lot to offer and she wanted to be sure we knew that her small world was worth sharing with travelers.
The next day we turned off onto less traveled dirt roads and hit real hills again. The riding was hard in the loose, dusty gravel. We made it to a small fishing village and road around town for a while trying to find a place to stay. We had just about given up and had headed out of town, when we met the only other gringo in town on the street. He invited us to stay with him and provided us floor space in his modest apartment. Jessie, from Kentucky, USA, was a great host and that evening, while cooking over his cast iron wood stove, he told us about his trip (photo 4). He had traveled to Chile to learn about the weaving style of the indigenous Mapuche culture. He told us about what he had learned about the Mapuche people and their history. For us it drew many parallels between the struggles of Native American peoples in the U.S.
When we road on the next day, the graffiti on every bus stop took on new meaning. The messages, spray painted over every sign and stop, spoke out in protest of the destruction of nature and land by industrial logging, mining, and fisheries. It was a grim reminder of Standing Rock and the protests and issues over land management and conservation that we face in the United States. The exploitation of natural resources is a global threat that affects us all. From there, we followed the coast and noted its resemblance to the coastline of Northern California (photo 5). We got to see first hand the logging operations and industrial plants. The air changing from a clear ocean breeze to thick, heavy smog. The road shifting from country lanes to shipping highways. As it turns out, riding a bike on the a highway is just as terrifying as you would imagine it to be (photo 6). We made it to the city of Concepcion wide eyed and exhausted from the adrenaline of urban riding.
We spent the next day planning our own adventures for the week to come and saying goodbye to our traveling companion Peter (photo 7). We were sad to part ways with the brave young Scotsman and wish him the best of luck on the road ahead. We have all been impressed by his maturity and spirit of adventure - setting out at 18 years old for a 6 month solo cycling adventure. It has been a pleasure to share the road with him. May the wind always be at your back Peter!
Until next time,
Noah, Eli, & Cameron