May 10, 2012:
The Final Push to Santiago
Distance to Date: 3457 km , 2143 miles
Like the Tour de France, our tour de las Americas is broken into stages. Six stages, to be exact. But unlike the Tour de France, ours is not a race. No, our journey is the antithesis of a race.
The best part of traveling is the people you meet along the way, and this final push into Santiago did not let us down. One of the best ways to get to know someone is to stay with them. Sharing conversations over dinner and perhaps wine, we have learned so much about Chile (history, politics, social nuances) in addition to getting to know some wonderful Chileans and expats.
The final stretch of Stage 1 took us through the vineyards and orchards of Chile's vast wine country and into the concrete jungle that is Santiago. The contrast of this urban metropolis with the tranquility we experienced through the Carretera Austral or the remoteness of Tierra del Fuego gives us the feeling that we have really experienced the many things that Chile has to offer. What a fantastic place.
If you haven't already, please take a second to "like" our Facebook page and ask your friends to do so as well. Our goal is to raise awareness about the abilities of the visually impaired, and this is a simple way to help achieve that end.
We are excited about this Sunday's event at Cerro San Cristobal -- 10:30 AM. Come if you're in Santiago. There will be a ceremony to recognize our journey by the director of Servicio Nacional de la Discapacidad.
After a delayed start due to Customs holding our bike hostage for some strange reason, ferocious headwinds in Tierra del Fuego, bike problems and weather, we got rolling. Once we got on Chile's Ruta 5 autopista, we were able to cover good distance from Puerto Montt to Santiago (1010 kms).
We stayed with Edgardo in Curico -- thanks, Edgardo, for your hospitality!
"Come, Edgardo, come with us!" But he couldn't because of work. He promises to take up the backpack again and go traveling as he did a couple of years ago through the US.
The bike needed its rear hub to be repacked with grease. We stop at a bike shop before leaving Curico.
Tauru "talks" to Gabriel with pen and paper. Gabriel, as it turns out, is deaf! Wow! We let him know that we're also disabled, and a kindred bond developed between the three of us. Gabriel slows down his movements so that Tauru can see his gestures while Tauru uses pen and paper to communicate with him.
It's dark in his shop, so Tauru waits outside as Gabriel fixes our rear wheel.
Being disabled, Gabriel compensates by being an extremely skillful mechanic. He repacks our rear hub and fixes whatever is needed in minutes. Literally minutes!
Thanks, Gabriel! You're awesome!!!
Back on the road and onward towards Santiago. We get a flat tire along Ruta 5 -- not the best place to fix a flat with huge trucks pass alongside.
The attendants at a rest area allow us to camp for the night. This place gets 4.5 Stars! Free showers!! It doesn't get 5 stars because the ground is hard, but everything else is primo-luxurio!
Edgardo had given us some tortas, a specialty from Curico. Delicious!
Ah-ha! We find out where the missing bite comes from.
Christi journals the activities for the past couple of days as dinner is being prepared.
The bike rests for the afternoon. (Note: That's Tauru's foot, but it's been washed thanks to the complimentary shower.)
What's for dinner?
We bring the clump of turkey to the top to show you. Tons of veggies and meat for protein.
We arrive in Rancagua, 90 km south of Santiago. This square in the downtown area was a major battle way back yonder when the Spaniards came and took control of the region.
Now it's a shopping area...
...and a fun place to stroll around.
We stay with some folks and share a meal.
Felipe and Cristian -- awesome guys!
They operate Ecotur. As the name suggests, it specializes in eco-tourism.
Before we leave Rancagua, the local paper, El Rancaguino, takes some time to interview us. Read the article here.
Time to roll out.
We don't have photos of our ride into Santiago because it was super stressful -- traffic, trying to figure out where to go, etc... consumed our concentration. But we made it thanks to Peter of La Bicicleta Verde. La Bicicleta Verde does bike tours around Santiago, and so it is full of bikes.
Thanks, Peter and Mack, for supporting our project!!
Our bike wanted a moment alone with all the other bikes.
Ahhhhh, Santiago! SANTIAGO! We made it! We survived the crazy streets of Santiago!!
A toast... a moment... 2100 miles... and still much more to go, but it feels so good that we can't wait to continue on the journey.
Riding into Santiago was stressful. With limited vision and a co-pilot who also has limited vision, Captain Tauru sits back and sips on some wine (from a box, of course) and reflects on the day's accomplishment. There are limitations in life, but there are also adventures.
We are in Santiago.
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