What do you pack in only two panniers?
That was the most difficult task I had before we left for Chile. The main difference between my kit and Andy’s (apart from a lot of pink & purple) is that a woman does actually need more clothes and toiletries than a man.
So far everything I packed has been used many times but that extra warm top that Andy wouldn’t let me sneak in at the last minute has been sorely missed!
The most useful bits of clothing have been my fleece, jeggings and a multi-purpose sarong. Surprisingly my most useful piece of bike kit has been a red bungee. It makes a great washing line!
The weather here has been one of real extremes.
Inland temperatures regularly reach 38 degrees and the UV rays are so powerful that we’ve already run out of suncream.
In contrast, the Pacific coast was surprisingly chilly and windy for high summer. The cold Humboldt current which surges up from Antarctica dramatically reduces both land and sea temperatures.
The coastline south of Valparaiso is rough and raw with huge Pacific rollers attracting more surfers than sunbathers. Some local women even lie on the beach in sleeping bags!
Sitting on a foggy black sand beach a few days ago looking out over the rough Pacific Ocean I realised that New Zealand is the next nearest landmass. Physically, culturally and mentally I felt a long way from home.
Cycling has been a real challenge, especially on hot days. Big distances between accommodation have meant that we’re doing a lot more miles than we normally ride at home. But we’ve enjoyed both the physical challenge (well … most of the time) and the beautiful scenery.
However, Andy has really helped me by carrying all the spare bike parts and other heavy stuff so my panniers weigh in at just under 10kg.
We’ve also enjoyed the simple, fresh food of Chile.
Ceviche is a delicious local speciality made with raw fish marinated in citrus juices and spiced with chilli peppers, onions, salt and coriander. Fish along the coast is plentiful, served in big portions, simply fried or grilled.
We really like a local white fish called Reineta that often features on a Menu del Dias (daily lunch menu). Our favourite meal was in a small family cafe on the beach where reineta, chips and salad together with a bottle of good Chilean Sauvignon set us back only £10 each.
Every roadside stall we cycle past sell Empanadas (pastie style pies) and Pan Amasado (homemade bread), staple foods in Chile. And that Mote con Huesillo (peach and husked wheat drink) we tried in Santiago is everywhere!
Fresh fruit is so plentiful. Look at the label on your blueberries, strawberries and avocados and there’s a very good chance they’ll be imported from Chile at this time of year.