Villa El Blanco - The thirteenth step ... Six months in South America - CycleBlaze

December 14, 2022

Villa El Blanco

We rolled out of Coyhaique at about eleven thirty, struggling up the short, sharp hills and keeping clear of traffic rushing up and down Ruta 7.  Somehow Coyhaique is a difficult town to ride into as well to to ride out of with the hills and the traffic being the chief obstacles.  

The town has a magnificent location above the Rio Simpson with wonderful views of the surrounding mountains but it struggles to be attractive.  It has more than its fair share of folk living on the edge of societal acceptance.  Lots of hustlers and buskers with far too many folk drinking wine straight out of a box at nine o'clock in the morning.   Five years ago Leigh was stuck for an hour or so having mangled conversations with early morning wine drinkers outside the Unimark while I was stuck in a queue inside.  To give the wine drinkers due credit, they did regularly offer Leigh a glug from the shared box.

The apartment we stayed in last night was quite small but it was very well equipped.  Not something that we often encounter in South America.  My cold had not quite run its course and if we didn't have a vague target of being in Cochrane for Christmas I may have been tempted to spend an extra night.  Leigh was also feeling a bit under the weather but, as I type this up in the wonderful quincho at Las Confluencias campground just outside Villa El Blanco we are both feeling much better. 

Apart from the busy road the ride was pretty uneventful.  Valle Simpson, the valley through which the Rio Simpson runs is wide and quite agricultural while west of Coyhaique it is gorge like.  That's not to say that it is unattractive. It is surrounded by high mountains,  many more carrying a crown of snow than we remember from our first two journeys through here.  What has changed is how many small settlements seem to have sprung up and I fear that the gentrification of this part of Patagonia may end up with the marginalization of people who have lived here for generations.  Of course, the indigenous Mapuche were marginalized a long time ago, but that is another story.

The view looking north westwards from near the top of the climb out of El Valle Simpson.
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Las Confluencias is a family run affair and we were met by one of the sons.  The matriarch came out to chat to us while we were having supper, quite chuffed that we were visiting there again.  The facilities are, without a doubt,  the best we have encountered in the whole of Patagonia across three tours but what is amazing is that the price is still the same as it was when we stayed here three years ago.  

The tent shelters.
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Coffee time in the magnificent quincho.
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Mike AylingEr, that doesn't look like coffee!
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1 month ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Mike AylingYou got me there.
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1 month ago
Three years ago in the same place with Lewis and Eloise, a young English couple whom we befriended and shared a number of good evenings together across Patagonia.
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Tomorrow will be a hard day.  Only just over sixty kilometers,  all of which are paved, but with two wicked climbs totalling over a thousand  meters of climbing into the westerly wind. 

Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 4,630 km (2,875 miles)

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