Cochrane - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

December 22, 2022 to December 25, 2022

Cochrane

Thursday 22nd December 2022

It was a beautiful morning when we woke up and it was a real treat to be able to enjoy our morning coffee and mate looking down at the confluence.  After coffee I struggled down to the river and back to get water for the road and for washing the breakfast plates and pot.  By the time we got around to packing up the weather started to turn nasty and seconds before we started taking down the tent the heavens opened.    The wind was howling like a banshee and it started to hail.  We took shelter behind some bushes and finally got onto our bicycles once it had stopped hailing.

Before the storm. One of the most picturesque campsites we have had.
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Mate time but the storm is already approaching from the west.
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It was a hard ride to Rio Chacabuco but the steep descents brought into focus how much harder it must be for cyclists riding from south to north.  The worst of the climbing was over once we reached the turnoff to the Patagonia National Park but now the wind was no longer in our favour as we were heading in a southerly direction.

The Rio Chacabuco.
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The confluence of the Chacabuco and the Baker.
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About five kilometers out of  Cochrane we had a twenty minute wait because of roadworks.  The roadworks continued right into the town and it appears that they have started paving this section of the Carretera Austral.  Once in town we headed to Camping Cochrane, probably the neatest and best run of the three campsites in town.  We have booked in for two nights and hope to arrange a cabana for the next two nights so that Christmas can be enjoyed with an element of luxury.

Friday 23rd December 2022

We have been bumping into a lot of people again as we make our way towards the business end of the Carretera Austral.  

Cristof, German cyclist who had arrived in Cerro Castillo the night before we left arrived in the campground here in Cochrane a few minutes after us.  When we met him he had already cycled to Villa O'Higgins and was on his way back to Coyhaique to ship his bicycle to Santiago and to pick up his girlfriend Eva.  They bussed down here and left for Tortel today to catch the ferry to Puerto Montt.

The Aussies whom we had met at Nacho's place spied us in the supermercado yesterday and we had a long natter.  They have hitched a few rides to make up time because they want to be in El Chalten for New Year.

Henri and Cristof whom we first met south of Puyuhuapi caught up with us again and will also spend Christmas here.  They are also starting out for Villa O'Higgins on Monday.

The campsite has gained a few other cycle tourists.  A really nice Brazilian guy who is on his way back to Brazil after cycling to Ushuaia, mostly down Ruta Cuarenta.  Later a young American who started in Alaska arrived having ridden the whole way from Rio Tranquilo in one day.  A Danish couple traveling around in a pickup truck who camped with us in Puyuhuapi are also in the campsite for a few days.  

The campsite has a very nice comedor where everyone has gathered to cook, eat and chat so it has been quite convivial.  A Spanish guy wanted to light up a joint in the comdedor despite signs prohibiting smoking but at least he asked for permission first and went to smoke it outside after a less than warm response from the others in the comedor.

The shops in Cochrane are first class (in relation to what one could expect for such a remote area) and I have been busy stocking up for Christmas dinner and the five days on the road to Villa O'Higgins while Leigh has been busy creating a fun Christmas video which I hope to upload and make available in this journal.

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 Saturday 24th December  2022

One of the wonders of Cochrane is the Supermercado Melero.  It reminds me of how shops in country towns used to be.  From guns and groceries to cement mixers and ceramic tiles to saddles and spurs to tyres and tumble dryers. It seems to have almost everything one could ever need.

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We have moved into a nice apartment just around the corner from the campground for the next two nights.   Our laundry was handed in to the duena of the campground this morning - this is probably the best Christmas gift we can possibly give to each other because doing the laundry ourselves is such an onerous chore,

All our Christmas and grocery shopping for the next week seems to be done.  The shops will close tonight and only reopen on Monday morning.   Thankfully there is one supermarket that opens at eight in the morning so we should able to buy pan befoe we hit the road on Monday morning. 

With everything apparently under control we are planning on a quiet and early evening of relaxation before celebrating Christmas tomorrow. 

Sunday, Christmas Day 2022

Wherever we may be we try to put a bit of effort into lunch on Christmas Day.  So after spending some time on the phone to the family we spent the rest of the day preparing and eating our Christmas dinner.  As usual this stretched over the entire afternoon.   During all of this time the good citizens of Cochrane were nowhere to be seen.  We assume they were recovering from last night's celebrations which were never bothersome to us but seem to have only ended just before sunrise.   It is now after five in the afternoon and as we rest, replete, the town is waking up and folk are starting to wander around the plaza mejor.  Judging by the look of things bicycles were popular Christmas gifts.

El primer plato - Serano ham, olives and roasted peppers. Calafate Ale from the Cerveza Austral brewery in Punta Arenas on the side.
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El plato secundo - fruit cocktail (a taste of the nineteen sixties in rural South Africa makes a return in Patagonia). Marie Antoinette Champagne glasses would have helped make the presentation more authentic.
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El plato principal - pan fried tuna steaks, mashed potatoes and stir fried vegetables with a lime alioi. The bubbles are from Chandon, the Argentinian winery near Mendoza that is owned by Moet et Chandon. We were able to visit the winery on our first cycle tour of South America five years ago.
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Postres - chocolate nut ice cream with chocolate cake.
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And here is Leigh's fun Christmas movie she put together. 

Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 4,937 km (3,066 miles)

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Elspeth JarmanYour food and drink looked scrumptious, well done from Cochrane shops. Your Christmas video was so good! We heard the song again today and all we can picture is you two singing along! Well done Leigh.
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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Elspeth JarmanYou have no idea how stressed out Leigh was. She was using software on my tablet that was very different from that on her PC and it was a steep learning curve with very little time to get the video done before Christmas.
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4 weeks ago
Suzanne GibsonThanks for your great Christmas video!
I have loved following you on your trip so far. All the best, and more tailwinds for 2023!
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3 weeks ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Suzanne GibsonLeigh will be so pleased to hear you enjoyed it. All the best for 2023.
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3 weeks ago