Chileans rave about Chiloe. The mists of this island are replenished with mythical flavour, with the legends of dwarfs and creatures like the Pincoya, the beautiful seductress of men. Cycling there on the Ruta 5, I could not really grasp its charme: crowds of backpackers, mochileros, lots of traffic and the lovely but fully occupied cities of Ancud, Delcahue and Castro. After two nights of camping on a lonely beach and on a green meadow, I was lucky to leave the serene idyll by ferry back to mainland, to Chaitén.
But then came the mystical part: the ferry fairy played its tricks on us – we left with four hours of delay. A large cruiser had blocked the narrow channel of the harbour, and its touristic passengers interfered with the loading of the ferry. The rising tide enhanced the steepness of the ramp and a heavy truck got blocked while he tried to pass. They fiddled for about two hours with wooden underlyings and with various manoeuvres of the ship. The whole catastrophy was unfold just in front of our eyes, and we enjoyed the great show. At this time, we could already see the next problem coming up: the scene changed from the ramp to the quay when the crew realized that one pillar to which the ferry was tied, was completely submerged by the rising water in the meanwhile. Bets were on, if one would dive down to loose the knot, but after some fumbling around with a pike from a boat for another half an hour, they just cut the rope and we finally circled around the cruiser out of the harbour.
This spectacle had caused considerable delay, and when we arrived after the 5 hours traject at the port of Chaiten, the ferry could not land due to the low tide. We had to wait 30 meters from the shore for the next tide at midnight. By this time, a young group of rebels had overtaken the ship, not accepting to be let out in the middle of the night without accomodation in this small coastal village. The captain, whom I had visited before on the bridge, turned up in the disguise of a barkeeper to observe incognito the ongoing negotiations and protests, but finally police had to clear the boat. The promised mayor of the town did not show up, but accomodation was provided in a sports hall.
Together with the english cyclist David, whom I’ve met during the passage, I preferred to cycle out of town. At 2 o’clock we pitched our tents alongside the road.
Adventure had begun again.