Most of the time I spend in Chile is in the south, and in particular, along the Carreterra Austral, in Chilean Patagonia. Study the postcards, and you may begin to understand why.
And here is the story.
As usual, I was wandering around Patagonia alone, this time riding west from Argentina, crossing the frontier at Chile Chico, where I spent the night. The wind was maintaining its normal bad behavior, blowing the rocks around. The electricity was out in the town so I had to wait before taking on fuel at the bomba, the gas station. (Bomba, incidentally, means both "pump" and "bomb" - something I find mildly ironic). Now, only a flatlands fool would go traveling around these parts of the world without topping up the tank at every opportunity. Contrary to my normal practice I had neglected to tank up the night before, as I arrived in town. This is often a smart thing to do, given the unreliable supplies of good fuel and the means to pump it.
After taking on bencí, as the Chileans call gasoline, I headed west into comparatively dry country, and came upon a small herd of wild horses, their coats thick and their manes blowing in the dry Patagonian wind. They were too far away for a decent 35mm photo.
This was the first time I had ridden around the southern shore of Lago General Carrera. It is the second-largest body of fresh water in South America, and in many photos that show the waves and whitecaps it looks as though it could be part of a Roaring Forties ocean coastline. There were many places to stop and take pictures, although it's important to be careful that the wind does not knock over you or your motorcycle. I can't seem to find any Java scripts to show what the wind there is like. In a magazine story I wrote about this area in 1979 I related how it is possible to see all of Patagonia by simply sitting in one place and letting it all blow right past you.
Well, the wind did knock the bike over, hard enough to bend the exhaust silencer inward, which caused the rear tire to rub on the silencer. Not good. Then I realized that the starter motor was not turning over as it should when I tried to start the bike. It turned out that the battery was not charging. This was also not good. So the pictures were taken quickly, while sitting on the bike, engine running, since I didn't want to shut down the engine out in the middle of nowhere. The photo above was taken in the southwest corner of Lago Carrera, near the outpost of Puerto Gaudal. Sometimes you have to barter the chance for a photo with not being able to get started again. And besides, I was in a hurry to get to a place where I might be able to work on it. It was turning out to be not so good a day.
...Except, of course, for the scenery. And here is more of it.
to page 2