La Junta - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

December 3, 2022 to December 6, 2022

La Junta

Saturday 3rd December 2022

It rained through much of the night and was still raining this morning so it wasn't that easy to get started this morning.  It was ten o'clock by the time we got on the road, one that I can remember as being quite tough and which Leigh can only remember for its beauty.  Unfortunately, with today's weather, the beauty was hidden behind the clouds and rain but the many short, stiff climbs were still there.

It has been three years since we last rode the Carretera Austral.  In our two previous tours down this iconic road we never went a day without encountering multiple other cycle tourists.  Today there were none apart from a guided tour with a meat wagon traveling backwards and forwards looking after the clients, some of whom were sitting in the warm comfort of their bus while their bicycles rode on the trailer behind.

The rain pelted down until just before the road descended to the bridge across the Rio Palena.  At this point the sun suddenly broke through and we stripped off our rain trousers and lowered the hoods on our jackets.  It was a bit premature because within ten kilometers the rain was chucking down again.

Blue sky visible as we cross the Rio Palena but it didn't last long.
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Upon our arrival in La Junta we checked out the campsite at Lago Rosselot because we heard that it had reopened with a nice refugio and a covered area for tents.  Unfortunately, there was no covered area and the refugio looked a bit of a mess.  So we headed for Vientos del Sur where we had camped three years ago.  On that occasion we had wonderfully sunny and warm weather and the camping area was jam packed with cyclists and their tents.  This time it was empty.  The attached cabana had a booking for the night but we got permission to camp under the shelter where they store boating and fishing equipment.  We will move into the cabana tomorrow and rest here for three days.  The rain is set to continue for at least a week so this stay is as much to sit out some of the bad weather as it is to have a rest.  We have lots of time in hand so we will try and manage our progress based on the weather forecast over the next week or so.

After supper we cycled a kilometer or so down the road to spend an hour catching up with Martin and Elspeth Jarmin who we had met on Tierra del Fuego three years ago (you can read their journals on CGOAB).  Their tour of South America had also been cut short by the pandemic.  They resumed their tour south of Rio Tranquilo about two weeks ago and are heading north to Colombia.

Sunday 4th December 2022

One of the challenges of the Carretera Austral is ready cash.   The only ATMs out of Puerto Montt in the north and Futaleafu in the east are in Coyhaique and Cochrane.  There is now an ATM at the COPEC service sstation in La Junta but it is currentlyout of service and will remain so for at least two weeks so I can't confirm weather it will work with foreign cards.  Payment for the cabana could only be done in cash but I managed to find a little mercado that was prepared to give me cash from my credit card.  Thankfully, most mercados accept plastic now so we only need cash for those accomodation options that only take cash.

While sorting out the effectivo, I saw the first other loaded cycle tourists that we have seen since joining the Carretera Austral yesterday, a young Argentinian couple who were keeping out of the rain in a bus shelter.  They are wild camping their way down the Carretera Austral and it seems that they have a wet time ahead of them.  Hopefully they will find landowners who might be able to help them out.

The Argentinian family who had only taken occupancy of the cabana at about midnight last night checked out late so it was one o'clock before we could move in.  First job was to get the fire lit and warm up the cabana which had been aired after the previous guests had departed.  We have been missing things like a proper breakfast and a good curry, so after a fried eggs on toast for lunch (I couldn't find any bacon at the shops I visited) I got a curry on the go for us to enjoy for supper.  

A warm and comfortable refuge from the cold and wet weather.
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Monday 5th December 2022

The rain continued to fall the whole day.  Warm and dry in our cabana, we got some laundry done.  I was able to handle a few admin chores and catch up on some phone calls.   Then I braved the rain to find a shop where I could sort out a data sim card and to buy the day's groceries.   

Slightly less rain is forecast for tomorrow so we will head to Puyuhuapi where we will probably spend two nights because the next day is likely to have heavy rain again.

Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 4,297 km (2,668 miles)

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