I said goodbye to the kind folks at Hostel Caracol and started riding. It had been a week of walking around by foot and time to pick up the pace. Ruta 5 south out of Santiago is a nice four lane toll road. That’s about it. It’s almost entirely straight for the first few hundred miles. I was just cruising and nothing really piqued my interest enough to take the camera out. Just imagine it. I’m sure the side roads are nice but I wanted to get to Patagonia. Other than stopping for gas and to pay a 600 peso toll every hundred kilometers or so, I kept going south. I had set a wild goal of riding 420 miles to Temuco. That’s a lot of riding on a 650cc thumper.
By 6pm I had passed Temuco and there was still plenty of daylight left to ride. I rode another 60 miles or so to Loncoche and started riding down dirt roads to find a good spot to bush camp for the night. Everytime I found a spot that I thought worked I would double check and see a house or people through the trees. I kept riding around and when I finally found a good area I rode down the hill and sure enough people were picking berries. The sun was almost setting so I rode back up the hill to wait for them to leave. While I was sitting there a young family came walking up the road and I asked if this was their farm and if I could camp there for the night. They said it was their families and that I could come camp up at their house. When I got to the simple farm house Gastón and Elizabeth welcomed me like I was a long lost friend. It was their son Gaston, his girlfriend, and their son who I met on the road. After handing me a beer they toured me around their property showing me all the different kinds of unique fruits they grow there and where Gastón likes to fish in the river. With the sun setting the sky was colored with pinks and purples. They pointed off in the distance at Volcano Villarica. It was stunning to see the snowcapped peak against the backdrop of the sunset. Or course I left my camera on the bike during this whole tour.
Before I could unpack my tent they told me to bring my stuff inside, they had a room with an extra bed for me to sleep in. They fed me dinner and breakfast in the morning. The kindness of strangers. It leaves me speechless. I think the thing I’ve realized I can do a lot more of is to be more generous. Gastón and his family didn’t know me at all yet welcomed me into their home. It ended up being a cold night but I was warm and comfortable in their spare room. They live in a simple house with unfinished plywood walls, the cooking is done on a wood burning stove and a small fireplace in the other room helps heat the house.
In the morning there was heavy fog and I was enjoying spending time with them so I stayed until the afternoon. When they told me I was welcome back anytime I knew they weren’t just being polite. Before I packed up to leave they came out and gave me a small present, a tin coffee mug with the Villarica volcano on it, the one you can see from their farm. Filled with energy from being recharged with the kindness of strangers, I got back on the bike and headed for Argentina.