Week 101 to 104 - Santiago!
We arrived at Hostal Casa Matte, and were immediately greeted by Cristián Montero, who is such a nice guy. We were shown to the dorm room, where there were four bunks, and currently only one occupant, so we were quite happy with that. We decided to reserve a private room for Kelvin's return, but I didn't feel I could justify paying for a private room whilst Kelvin was away, so I'd keep to the bunk room for the duration of his trip home.
We met a couple from Canada (possibly called Julie and Josh, but my memory fails me). The following day we met Karl from Belgium, then the 'Banana' guy from Spain and another chap from Uruguay. It was such an amazing place to meet fellow motorcycle travellers and swap stories and travel tips.
The most immediate thing we needed to do after setting in was to sort out all the stuff for Kelvin to take home, and there was a LOT!!! This was quite a good thing as it meant getting rid of more luggage, and also order anything we may need for the final part of our journey, the majority of which were bike parts.
After Kelvin had left, I met a couple from Germany (Ingolf and Silvia), a Belgian guy called Leonard, Modo from Japan who had travelled two years around the world, another guy from Belgium looking to buy a bike and start his travels, plus the couple from Canada again. We had a farewell evening on the Monday night as Ingolf and Silvia were leaving. All of us set up a dining room on the roof terrace and consumed lots of wine (Sangria) and snacks. Needless to say I was up late next day, so I rescheduled the walking tour I had booked.
During Kelvin's trip home I managed to get on three walking tours; A City Centre Tour and then the Yungay Barrio tour (Strawberry tour). Then the Markets and Cemetery tour with Tours4Tips. I also went to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights to understand the Pinochet dictatorship history and human rights violations better (1973-1990), which was really interesting, but also quite hard hitting and moving.
There was an immense amount of street art in Yungay area with a really chilled vibe, and way less people than in the centre of the city. The Market tour was great and the cemetery was quite interesting as well. I love the walking tours available in the cities as they offer so much value, and you can donate as much or as little as you want/can. The guides as usually really informative and exude enthusiasm for where they live, it's just great.
Aside from the walking tours, I did lots of work on blogs as I didn't want to be out spending lots and the hostel was nice and chilled, so I was actually really enjoying my time there. I also got given a super lovely Hostal Casa Matte T-shirt from Cristian, and started an online Certified Health Coaching course...something I'd wanted to do for a little while to potentially be able to do some work online in the future, we'll see. I cooked a meal for Chris of non spicy curry, and he was telling me about his travels and learning Spanish. Overall, there was just lots of chatting to people about travels, which I always enjoy.
Gary, who we'd originally met down in Ushuaia, also turned up on his KLR, which was a pleasant surprise. He'd been doing really well and had a great trip so far, plus the bike had held up well, which is always good to hear.
Not long later I met Moto Roamers, Julie and Josh turned up again, Tiago and Marisa (Blue & Perla) and a really lovely couple from South Africa/Belgium (Luke & Astrid) and another Swiss couple. I made curry for everyone, which is something I'd previously been too scared to do (cook for others), but I'd got a bit happier with my cooking skills over the course of our travels as I'd had to improvise lots, so I went for it. There's definitely a lot of room for improvement but I felt really happy to be able to contribute something to my fellow motorcycle travellers.
Finally Kelvin was back, and I went and met him at the airport via Uber taxi. He was searched by SAG (I think that's more of an environmental search making sure you're not brining certain foods, plants etc in to Chile) but thankfully he had no customs issues. Phew!!! It's always a little nerve-wracking when you've got replacement bike parts coming in as you never quite know if it'll be ok or not, which can be largely dependent on who searches you. Luckily, even though the SAG officer asked what all the parts were, he wasn't fussed by any of it, in fact he found it amusing what Kelvin had in his luggage! We also has some nice shiny new gear from Rukka Motorsport. Thank you Rukka Motorsport!
Arguably, the most important part of the supplies Kelvin bought with him were PG Tips tea bags, and some spices like Garam Masala, Tikka, Madras and more. Yippee!
When we got back to the Hostal we were able to move in to a private room, and it was great. It was such a lovely, spacious room, and it was quite nice not to be in a bunk room anymore. Saying that, I'd had no real issues being in a bunk room and all my fellow room mates had been guys and all really considerate and respectful in the main, just a few occasions of being woken up, but that's to be expected.
Next up was lots of work on the bikes. Kelvin spent almost four full days sorting everything in the workshop and I did the valve calibrations and just acted as a workshop hand. I think the bikes were ecstatic to have some shiny new parts and get some in depth TLC.
Following the bike TLC, the next thing was route planning. We were in to the final five months of the trip and we needed to work out what we really wanted to see, and what would be realistic for us given our slow speed of travel and keenness to stay in places for a couple of days when we like the place or the weather is shockingly shite. We made a loose plan, obviously knowing that it would likely change. I then sorted some GPS co-ordinates that we'd use for the first day when we would be back on the road, which involved a border crossing (Paso Internacional Los Libertadores) and an amazing pass between Chile and Argentina just Northeast of Santiago, and I was going to take us on the dirt road option with lots of switchback...fun times ahead!
We repacked all of our stuff and loaded up the bikes ready for the off, marking the beginning of the final stage of our adventures.
I made a farewell curry again before we left, attempting a mild Korma style curry but it turned out a little spicier, although that didn't bother us at all and I gave some to an English biker called Charlie, who waved us off on our departure day.