South on the Austral, kind of

There’s a world map on the wall at the place we are staying.

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I gauge the distance between here and The End to be about the length of the Baja. That’s it. A Baja length ride between us and home. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I do know I still get to ride my bike somewhere. With repairs accomplished, we rocket out of town on a mostly flat paved road that goes directly south.

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Fish farming is big business here, as is honey.

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Fresh bread is around every corner. A few fruits and vegetables can still be found. They look a bit more like the Alaskan produce I’m used to than their counterparts just north of here.

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The road snakes along a fjord and then joins with the Carretera Austral. We only ride for a second, maybe two, before going right. A slightly quieter road winds along the coast. Wooden boats are being built in yards. Wooden churches stand tall against the elements.

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We settle down at the harbor, and then watch something catch fire down the road. An hour later the fire truck comes roaring through. Ten minutes more and the water truck arrives. The fire is out by now, whatever was burning long gone.

Fishermen come in, anchoring their boats for the day. I comb the beach, looking for treasures.

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The tide comes and goes in the night. The full moon making them higher and lower than normal. Boats are piled in a jumble on the beach. People comb the beach, collecting shell fish and seaweed. We collect blackberries.

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I ask a woman for water. She takes our bottles inside and I wait outside with her small daughter. The girl would like help removing her red rubber boots, and I oblige. Soon, she’s stomping in the mud in her bare feet. Her mother returns. She gives me the water and scolds her daughter. I thank her and leave, hoping the muddy feet don’t cause too much of a problem.

Our quiet deversion from the Austral over, we return. This is where everyone else is. We join the masses for a bit, taking the road to Hornopiren and a ferry south.

We have been told the north part of the Austral is quiet, and it is. In between ferry arrivals and departures we have the road to ourselves. It twists and turns and goes up and down through Parque Pumalin. We follow a short trail through a stand of old Alerce trees.

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We make our own camp spot on Laguna Negro, watching the sun makes its’ wide arc, going down and left across the sky.

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Where we went: Ensenada – Puelo – Contao – Rolecha – Hornopiren – Chaiten

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