Day 10 – Sunday March 7: Plowing gravel towards Cholila
Today we got our first taste of the whip of gravel. We left Lago Epuyen mid morning and travelled for about 20-24k before we hit the unpaved section of the road. The road itself was in fact being paved, so the gravel was new and loose stretching for another 26k to our destination town Cholila. We let some air out of our tires and pressed forward, plowing through the stuff. We made it to town, exhausted and hoping that the gravel further ahead will be better packed, less treacherous.
Cholilo turns out to be a small community in the middle of a flattish plain with hills all around – but it is large enough to support a school and a tourist information center. Hot. Dusty. Quiet. Happily, after riding around through deserted streets we discovered a parillo – a grill – that was open down at the end of one of the streets. Since we were only 2 miles from our hostel we decided to chow down right away. We were welcomed by a smiling old white-haired proprietor, Manuel Hernandez, who brought us cold beer (and cokes, yes), and put some steaks on his grill. Excellent.
So we arrived at our hotel, the Hosteria El Trebol, tired but cheerful, and we were delighted to discover that the spacious rooms had showers en-suite and faced either a central yard or looked out towards the mountains and lake. The fishermen in our midst, still undiscouraged, walked down to the lake and returned with the usual number of fish, uncaught and unreleased. Dinner at 9:00 was fabulous spaetzle goulash, one of the last dishes we expected in Patagonia; we stayed up until nearly midnight, in part because tomorrow is a rest day.
PS For those of you hoping for quicker postings, please remember that we’re out of wi-fi range for days at a time down here, and that the postings have to be joined to some chosen photos, which are in turn downloaded from different cameras and resized. With any luck we’ll catch up on the rest day, but we head for the countryside again on Tuesday (day 12), so have patience. Meantime, let us know if you’d like to hear about anything else we’re up to.