Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Meliquina To San Martin

Time to leave ....the morning came …supposedly, the alarm went off at 9.30 am for my drugs …. looking into pitch blackness I thought the android tablet had lost its marbles, clearly it was dark and nowhere near 9.30 am.

It didn’t seem right, we turned on the phone, same time ….WTF, looked out the curtains, nup dark…..SERIOUSLY WTF.

We swung the door open to find Armageddon, it was raining sand, dust and ash, a quick sniff and taste revealed sulphur smells ….WTF, it was deathly deathly unnervingly quiet with NOT a single sound …..the previous night on ADV rider Mike Ryder put a link on our ride report saying a volcano south of us was doing poos.

Putting 1+1 together still made 3, the ash and sand laden breeze was blowing in from the north east, the volcano was 145 km south west of us, we automatically assumed that a volcano close to us had let go.

We had no electricity, no wifi, so no communication or lighting, at 10.00 am we lit a candle being it was pitch black, we wanted to preserve our LED light batteries in case we needed to leave without the bike and in the dark?.

Mega thoughts running through our minds, how cold will it get?, how long will it be pitch black, how long will it rain sand and ash?, how deep will this shit get?, can we ride out or do we have to leave Maya here?…. fuck … too much to think head was already hurting now stressed with a situation never presented to either of us in our life.

To be honest it was very weird, the time and darkness was really screwing with my head which, at this point in time, was already screwed.

It was kinda cool but kinda unnerving, the feeling of fear, the feeling of anxiety leading the charge but we had to take control realizing we were ok, had food, had shelter etc so not a problem yet.

Making some quick management decisions we got all the water we could until it turned brown (the water comes directly from the creek), the sand and ash turning the water brown.

Managing to round up only 9 liters of safe water we have our filters which we could use if need be.

Plans of leaving today became apparent was not a happening thing, at 11.34 am it was still dark but we reckoned we could see light above in the sky but neither of us knew if it was our eyes playing games or not.

P1240714 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

By 1.00 pm the sand/ash cloud had settled and we could start to see, we put on our face masks and B lined it to the bomberos (local fire and ambulance station), it is about a 2 km walk, still raining sand and ash we both turned white walking down, the bomberos said the roads were closed so that confirmed we were there to stay, they also confirmed it was Calbuco that had blown it's lid with fury.

Pity there are no banks here

P1240718 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The entry stairs

P1240717 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

IMG_8401 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

This is what 1.00pm looked like

P1240728 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

P1240731 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The dust varying in deepness from 5 - 25 mm

P1240733 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

IMG_8415 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Down to the shop we bought a 2.25 L Coca Cola which boosted our liquid supply by 30% , the shop owner saying if we needed water he has a clean bore from the ground so all was good.

The volcano delayed our departure date by another day, and that was already after being there for about 10 days trying to sit out me being ill.

I felt the world was against me at this point, seems that every time we ride past a volcano it explodes …."starting to get a complex" now

Sitting out the day behind glass drinking Coke we slowly watched the cloud dissipating and seeing the extent of the event unfold, dust storms came and went and as the cloud cleared the wifi signal started and we got some information which saw us in the middle of an epic international crisis event with state of emergencies declared etc, the magnitude far greater than we realized.

The mid afternoon gloom

P1240724 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

P1240734 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

IMG_8409 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Then the dust storms set in with a yellow tinge from the sun behind/above

IMG_8420 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The night was one of anxiety as the authorities said brace for more, luckily it did not happen and we woke to a day that was promising so we made a break for it.

It was like riding through a bag of flour, powder everywhere and every step we took making a cloud.

Face masks were definitely the order day and with me still not right I was not taking ANY chances.

Does this mask make my nose look big?

P1240736 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

A slow trip to San Martin, now looking into the lake was brown and murky so I was very happy we took the time before the volcanic ash changed things, now we are riding in a grey monotone nuclear fallout looking place so very spooky, again still deathly quiet.

Hitting the main road which is paved made no difference, if anything it was worse to ride due to the 15 - 20 mm layer of superfine ball bearings supplied by mum nature, coupled with this when a car went past we had to stop and wait a minute literally as we could not see a thing, another fear playing on my mind if a car coming from behind not seeing us and taking us out .. fuck it does not get any easier, with this in mind we stopped hard over to the edge of the shoulder.

P1240736 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Pulling over to stop before the cloud swamped us

P1240744 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Arriving to San Martin was WW3, dust storms, twisters and grey EVERYTHING coated.

P1240749 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Airy feeling, signs everywhere saying “Despacio” which means “slow” in Spanish, any and every movement creating a dust storm, people with shovels mounding up all the ash, every shovel load creating more dust.

It seemed like a fruitless effort nonetheless the spirit of cleaning up was alive and well.

P1240750 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Lucas and Andrea from next door at the lake said come stay the night so we caught up with them, Ellen making Chinese dumplings as a sign of our appreciation for their help and friendship.

P1240753 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Andrea, (my angel) washed our ash and dust laden clothing in their washing machine reverting them back to their original colours, the little things that make a big difference.

That evening more ash and sand came down but very little and not enough to cause any more trouble for us thus in the morning our plans to head over to Chile were welcomed with an almost clearish day with dust in the air but good visibility.

Meliquina To San Martin And Back

Test run, to see if I was good enough for the job.

The day was nice, no early start so we could avoid the cold we hit it to San Martin to visit Lucas and Andrea.

So good I felt on the way there to hold onto the bars I had a wrath of enthusiasm when we hit the paved section, playing on my mind was to ride Maya a little quicker to feel the Duro tire amidst interest of its capabilities.

I really enjoyed the ride in, had the Duro front tire chatting to the tarseal and the Heidenau rear having an arguement trying to stay in line, both tires building heat and the Duro clearly as happy as, we pushed it to the edge (not advisable to go past that point) so I was happy.

Arriving in San Martin after completing the last part on the gravel section we found Lucas’s hardware shop and had a chat, we then set off to enjoy San Martin and celebrated with a pizza for lunch …..bloody good it was too I will add.

IMG_8385 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

IMG_8384 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

To the supermarket then back to Lake Meliquina, I was till feeling enthused however my battery low signals were coming on leaving me wondering 8-(

We cruised back at a lesser pace taking in the breath taking views and autumn colours gracing the vistas, back along the lakeside rippio Maya suddenly started acting up in the steering, I slowed up but nothing seemed out of place so we continued, this time in second gear looking over and into the lake with the admirably clear water, this was really nice to see and made going slower back to be very relaxing and good mind food.

IMG_8400 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Back to the Lake we did a kick, wobble, push and shove to see if we could find why Maya was now being silly on the corrugations.

After about 15 minutes we discovered the shock bottom bush had disintegrated, yes this is the shock that Kuntflict Suspension supposedly rebuilt everything on ….ripped off.

Not being terminal meant we would carry on with it being noisy and loose, just very disappointing after it was supposedly rebuilt.

Packing everything down that evening after deciding I would be well enough to ride the following day I felt enthused, that night although still feeling off shade I felt a level of happiness as my passion of riding and seeing new places was on again...WOH HOH

Lake Meliquina La Ventana

Now with me being crook in bed Ellen headed for the hills ....but she came back.

La Ventana is a cool rock formation, La Ventana meaning window.

So I will not babble on as Ellen did it, will just biff a few pics up for you guys to see.

Looking up to the top from the 3/4 mark

IMG_8372 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

You guessed it, look down from the same place, our place and me sleeping to the right hand side of the road heading toward the lake tucked in the trees so you can't see it.

IMG_8368 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The famous rock window

IMG_8357 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Looking over the sheer drop from the north side and autumn serving a platter of colours from seasonal change

IMG_8349 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

The full window

IMG_8338 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

And that my friends is La Ventana... next up some interesting events

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Melquina, Plans, Illness, Natural Disasters

No more room in the title and that is only the start of it

We had plans to ride the seven lakes ride and hike around the valley taking the place in, a neat part La Ventana which means window in spanish, that is a huge hole in the rock near the summit so that was on the cards too

My health got worse, this time no snot, no cold, no cough ….hmmm, bed for me was it plain and simple nothing else was even on my list.

Me being me I hate missing out so determination saw the key put in the ignition, as it would turn out this was the only thing I would do is the seven lakes ride, 2 hours and I was just spent after the first hour.

IMG_8193 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

IMG_8194 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

It would turn out that this clean water photo is diamond

IMG_8198 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

Maya seemed to take control of everything she should and quite a bit of what I should….kinda weird feeling sorta floating alone along a road enjoying the view and feeling almost like in the passengers seat, not sure it was entirely safe of course but we are still alive.

Passo Cordoba providing some nice views on the way home

IMG_8215 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

As time went by (a couple of days) nothing improved, no sleep, sweating in the bed then shivering my arse off (normally do that at the top of the mountains).

We had limited meds and were out in the sticks, we had a log fire which I had a love hate relationship with cuddle / open the doors / cuddle / open the doors …..I could not win.

5 days on no improvement so time to look at things more seriously, the good ol Kiwis sit it out and harden the fuck up did not work..I needed some serious shit…

This was the only fun I had.

IMG_8314 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

I put all my symptoms into a search, narrowed it down again and again, ruled out some and kept others, from my best knowledge it looks like I have viral meningitis.

Nothing else fits the bill, I wasn’t dead so that ruled out a seriously case of bacterial meningitis but still I feel very bad, to be ill here is relaxing.

We are very lucky to have been handed such a cool place to stay and the timing of being very crook right here, in a noisy hostel or tent would have made it far worse and as you guys well know (at you olda fellas with grey hair like me) home comforts % must go up when one is down and crook.

My highlight was the saving grace called Andrea, neighbour and Doctor, she could see right through me.

Pneumonia ..... ... no wonder I was not feelin the best

IMG_8323 by twomotokiwis, on Flickr

More to follow, Ellen will write what happened cos I wasn't really there