Puerto Natales, 0km (Total 705Km cycled)
Highlights: Sunny, no wind, steak, lentil stew, waiting, more lentil stew, more waiting, cake swapping and finding out that our tent is a godsend and pancakes.
Day 33-45: 11th – 22nd February 2012 – Idling
We’re stuck here in Puerto Natales while waiting for my new fork to arrive. After many days of hard slogging, we feel rather guilty just sitting back and relaxing for day after day. In fact, it’s getting rather boring. So, here are some reflections while we’re sitting on our bottoms, in no particular order.
We’d looked into going on one of the touristy guided tours, but most of them would take us up to Torres del PAINe again and cost a rather a lot of money.
The Law of Sod: since we go back from the park we have had brilliant cycling weather, with next to no wind and wall to wall blue sunny skies. Can you credit it?
While here, we’ve tried to make sure that the address to which the forks are addressed is as secure and guaranteed as possible. We’ll hopefully have more luck with Chile. We did hear that sending mail to Argentina can be something of a nightmare: it either never arrives, or gets returned to sender by the Post Offices, even when you use Poste Restante. We therefore decided not to get the fork sent to Argentina (we had considered travelling further north to El Calafate, and joining our fork there).
To double-check, we spoke to the local post office and checked if it was OK to send the fork there. They gave us their address and a weak confirmation that it would arrive OK. We’ll see. To add belt to the braces, we returned with a list of information about the package, which is being sent by DHL. We’ve seen DHL offices in Chile, so fingers crossed that it will work out OK.
A few days ago we spotted twoblindtoride.org, Tauru and Christi, getting ready to leave Puerto Natales. We had a little chat with them before going shopping. A few hours later they knocked on our tent asking if we’d like to join them for dinner. They’d ended up faffing too much for a departure that day, and given the ominous-looking clouds they’d decided to head back to their Couchsurfing house for another night.
We had a brilliant evening chatting, drinking hot chocolate and beer, eating fabulous food (we are now converted to eating squash with just about everything) and some filthy cake-swapping. A special treat we found in the supermarket was ‘cake in a tube’ (like a pound cake in a plastic wrapper) which is great for biting a chunk off and sharing around the room! Their couchsurfing host was once-removed: while the owner was away, Daniel, a fellow couchsurfer, was hosting them. It all got a bit confusing. :)
Back at the campsite, we met another cycle tourer, Hanna (http://www.hannamijakobson.com/, who made us yummy kokosboller (coconutty-chocolate balls). I haven’t had them since I lived in Denmark, and I think Peli is now hooked too :)
Some other things that have occurred to us while we’re waiting…
– Sleeping bags hung out to air in the sunshine smell just wonderful when you snuggle into them at night
– When you have easy access to hot showers, the inclination to use them diminishes…
– e-Book readers are a godsend for cycle tourists. I use Kobo reader on my Android phone, and Peli has a proper Kindle which has an excellent battery life. Book-starved travellers at the hostel are desperately trying to get their hands on reading material, while we luxuriate amidst our hundreds of available books. What to read next…?
– Fruterias in Chile are a treat, and much better quality (and price) than the supermarkets. We’re currently hooked on squash with EVERYTHING.
– The “Expense Manager” app for Android is brilliant for keeping tab of what we’re spending (too much at present, but hopefully it will calm down when we’re back on the road). Peli’s been very diligent from the start in logging all our expenditure.
– Being stuck in one place offers a good opportunity to try out new recipes. We’ve been on lentil stew for the past few days (yum) and will be trying out pancakes tonight.
Our tent, the Villa, has been a brilliant safe haven during this time. We can crawl in and out without jostling each other for room and has generally made dealing with this difficult situation much more comfortable. At night, when it gets pretty cold (8 degrees is the lowest our thermometer has seen so far) the vents make sure there isn’t any condensation on the inside of the flysheet, so you can touch the sides without getting soaked. During the day if we want to lie reading away from the elements we can “open the front and back doors” and create a pleasant draught so we don’t cook. It’s a big beast, but it’s our home.
Given the availability of washing-up facilities, and shops that sell flour and butter, we decided that we’d have Pancake Day too. We liked them so much that we decided to have Pancake Day two days in a row. We picked up a great recipe from the travellingtwo.com and are now experimenting big time. Peli has become the perfect pancake flipper.
Waiting for the parcel has become a bit tiresome. For some reason DHL are happy to send your stuff to a far-flung place, but they don’t fully prepare you for what they might need from you to actually deliver it. I’m sure that – as big as they are – they have done it many times before. So why couldn’t they let us know via email or even before shipping that customs in Chile needs a Chilean tax number and we needed to double check the address and that we need a broker to get it through customs…? We only found that out after Basecamp (Peli’s mum) continually pestered DHL to ask what was meant by the “Clearance Delay”, which was showing on the online tracker for the third day in a row.
Anyway. We’re lucky to have a great tent and we’ve met some very nice people while confined to Puerto Natales. This is keeping us from going totally stir crazy. We’d love to have our wheels rolling again, though. Soon, hopefully!