We're eating breakfast in the Hosteleria Outsider again, who's walls are adorned with pictures we've seen for ourselves now. There's the stilt houses by the bays on Chiloe, mountain lagos and volcans. There's also Butch and Sundance, who's image promised us a taste of our own freedom when we started out.
As Dallas has always said, true freedom can be found bike touring. Heading off into the unknown, with nothing more than your power to make progress with. You are exposed to the elements, without a metal box construct of society around you for comfort. And unlike hiking, there's still mechanical advantage. Through the best of human ingenuity, the wheel and gearing, your couple lightbulbs of power can transport you and your gear over 100km per day. There's the magic of coasting, which hiking doesn't allow, the perfect "something for nothing" feeling of rolling along.
We rode along the lake again, relatively slow and easy, about 50km. Summer is officially here, so we sat in the sun watching the lake a while. As it turns out, it seems we did most of our riding in the last bit of spring, the seasons changed pretty dramatically.
We did our final packing, loaded up the Hilux, and ate lunch at an Italian place on the lake. We've had a lot of good, natural, from the earth simple food, and this was no different, although the preparation was a notch higher.
This is a part of the world worth visiting. The main source of any of our problems would be solved by carrying more cash and/or knowing the PINs for all our cards. We've grown accustomed to paying for everything with credit or debit cards, and they're available lots of places here, but it isn't quite as ubiquitous. Travellers cheques or wads of US dollars, depending on your personal security habits, would be useful. Our rental car pickup guy wanted cash even though he had a credit card imprint. We weren't understanding how to solve it, he actually seemed content to let us leave, but we found a bilingual LAN Chile guy to help. He wanted to do an imprint for our surcharge of returning it empty, but didn't have one of those little imprint mechanisms. The LAN Chile guys just said "escribe manuel", which he didn't know he could do. So we just wrote it out on the slip and all was ok. Simple. It's a pretty good vacation when those are your only problems. No broken bikes or body parts, nothing lost or stolen, no illness.
It's new year's time again, so I'm naturally thinking of what I want to make of the year ahead. I think this can be the year where I get my road racing license up to category 2, and I'm hoping to bump my mountain bike racing license up to elite. Not to mention surviving another round of enduro events - TransRockies, Bow 80 and La Ruta de los Conquistadores are all on the itinerary again.
Mildly connected to the above, I want to lure fellow cyclists as best I can to ride and race outside our own backyard. Of course this is everyone's own choice, but I'm just working under the assumption that if I like it, there's others who will too.
Considering it's something I've intended to do for years, and that it seems I take at least two trips to Spanish speaking countries a year, it's time to put more effort into some basic language skills. So far, I haven't come across anyone who tries to be a dick if you don't speak well. Everyone just tries to help figure the situation out. Little different than France. Someone Tori indirectly knows spent years of graduate studies on Russian, Russian history and Russian culture. Apparently she spoke it half decent for a non-native. To finish of school, she went on a several month trip to Russia. Report back was that the general attitude was indifference and hostility, nobody seemed enthused whatsoever by her decent basic language skills. That's gotta feel nice after years of studying and cost.