As the sun set behind Los Morros, the two iconic rock stacks of Punta Del Lobos, for the first time in five weeks we felt like we’d made it. Floating amongst shoals of strange fish and Lobos del Mar - Wolves of the Sea (Sea Lions), we were paddling out past 2-3 foot sets bumbling their way down the point. It felt like every minute we sat, soaked in sea water, we were getting cleaner, soaking the city from our skin and hair. Fuelled by espresso shots, we had jumped off the rocks and we surfed for two hours, exhausted from the day we’d just had. We shared a few waves, Alejandro took a set wave on his longboard and connected the sections right through to the beach, 400 or so metres down the point, leaving us to surf while he body boarded at the beach with Maximo, his son. We had a few waves each but were both tired and out of shape from the past month of landlocked life.
We had arrived in Pichilemu an hour or so before the first surf. Pichilemu felt a million miles from Santiago; less like a sprawling American metropolis and more like a slightly run-down, out of season coastal town, a strangely comforting feeling. The sea air eroded the colours and faded the wood of the hand build Cabaños that squeezed themselves amongst the landscape and ocean. We had sat and watched a few sets, talked to some friends of Alejandro’s and drank coffees from the LT35 converted into a coffee bar parked on the famous point. Not the first time we ended up next to one of Alejandro’s custom Suzuki GN125’s which I took the opportunity to test ride up the dirt track.
After the surf we headed into town and picked up some salad, beer and wine ready for the night’s BBQ back at Alejandro’s cabaño. The fish they’d bartered for from the old timer fisherman on the point as we drank our coffee earlier was coming in the back of some local surfer’s truck. We lit the fire and prepared a couple of salads. The fish they bought was not just a little fish, it was huge. It took until 11pm for it to cook. Everyone drank a couple of beers and red wine and talked, every night like this helps with our understanding of Spanish, even if we have little to contribute at this point. The cabaño was beautiful, an escape from city life. Hand build from wood with racing, yoga and surf memorabilia hanging from every part of the warm wood. We slept well on the pull out bed, tired but happy.
The journey from Santiago to Pichilemu was the first fully loaded journey we had been on. So far, we had only done one journey that was further than ten blocks, that was the day before and we had managed to lose each other. As we rode the bikes home from the workshop to prepare for the journey to Pichilemu we got to the end of the highway and I changed my mind at the fork in the road at the last minute and Sally didn't have time to follow me. An hour or so later we were huggingin the ‘London Pub’ car park, reunited after a stressful experience. We only had one phone, which I had, Sally didn't have the number for it or anyone else and we couldn’t find each other. She managed to make her way back to where we first got separated and find a passer by eventually who spoke English and had a smart phone; she googled the cafe next to the workshop to tell them to tell Alejandro where she was so he could call me. He happened to be in the cafe and called me and I found Sally.
The big, fully loaded journey was also not without it’s share of action. It should have been 3-4 hours but it took us about 6. Leaving Santiago, it turns out, is pretty difficult. The city is huge, it sprawls in every direction possible. We spend more than an hour in the heat circling an area trying to fine Ruta 78 out to the West. We found it but were exhausted already and both of our stress levels were pretty high. City highway driving was not the romantic idea of this trip we both had in mind, in fact, it was pretty much the exact opposite. The further we got our of the city, the fewer cars and trucks there were and the riding, even though new and still intimidating, started to feel a lot more natural, almost enjoyable. The luggage on the back was fine, really not an issue which is positive. The board racks were perfect; naturally we kept checking them to make sure everything was in place but they didn't give us any trouble at all. As imagined, optimal cruising speed was 80KMH, fast enough to keep up with traffic without inviting dangerous overtaking and be in into the lower range of 5th gear which should be good for fuel economy. The wind is noticeable when you are overtaken by something big and fast but not really an issue.
With the city behind us we wound our way for another 3 hours or so through an ever changing landscape, up into highlands, down though lowlands, over a huge dam, past hundreds of fruit sellers by the side of the road, fresh empanadas, vineyards; all the time huge birds of prey floating on the breeze overhead. I think the journey was the upper limit of what we are comfortable doing in a day without a long break; I think in total we had done nearly 200 miles. As we caught our first glimpse of the sea from the downward winding road, Sally crossed over the threshold of her riding capacity, she was done and I totally understand why. We reached the town and followed the instructions to the cabin, the last part of the journey, the final 300 metres were up a loose dirt hill, we were exhausted, grouchy, fingers and arses aching; not the ideal introduction for off-road riding.
We made it though, on our own. That is something that we can be proud of, all the months of planning and preparation came down to this first ride. 200 miles in and the other 14,800 are a pretty daunting thought.
Nos vemos pronto amigos. x