Wednesday, July 12, 2006

María Pinto, Melipilla, Aculeo

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fellow riders, gather round, here's the story:

On Saturday Ben Kenobi and I decided to bugger off to god knows where for a ride. We took the Ruta 68 to the turnoff to María Pinto, and after riding around here and there, we got there.

Later, we set off for Melipilla, land of witches, I visited my own personal square metre (which is mine on account of the fact that I locked the front wheel on gravel while fooling around on the last ride), we eluded an old hag's most expensive sandwiches in Chile, and flirted with two girls behind the counter at a Punto Copec gas station store. Actually, all I did was look out the window while Ben did all the dirty work, asking how to get to where we were going, etc.

The map showed a dirt road passing near Aculeo, and then going on to connect with the Ruta 5, Chile's section of the Pan-American Highway.

The sun set. We decided to push on and see what came of it.

The first stretch of dirt road was ok, there were no large stones or potholes or anything exceedingly punishing. I even had a go riding on Ben's NC30 (Honda VFR 400; Chile, like the UK, also has a legacy of Japanese 400cc "grey bikes"), and that, though bumpy, was fine. The worst bit was still to come... the two-lane dirt road became narrow. And narrower, and dusty. Very dusty.

On a 90 degree turn in the road we saw a fire on a hill, with enormous flames illuminating the night sky. Or was it witches burning at the stake? Who knows.

Just as the road started to wind into a narrow valley, with high, dark mountains over which the moon could barely peek over, we spotted a guy standing at a bus stop (yes, in the middle of nowhere). It was late, about 21:30, and the road that we were on split in three: towards the mine, towards a small chicken farm, and towards Aculeo. Who knows what bus he was waiting for.

He pointed towards the right road, and we set off down it. The road got worse and worse, barely a stony track where a car might barely fit through, and did I mention the large, irregular rocks jutting out of the ground? If you're an A/T rider, you'll be thinking "cool". Now imagine you're on a VFR400. Yeah, that's what Ben was feeling like. To his credit, he handled everything wonderfully. It's amazing what a speedbike can do.

We got to a barrier across the road, painted with black and white stripes. This did not look at all like a public road to Aculeo, as the shadowy figure had told us. It looked like the end of the road: a cavern of dark trees into which the path disappeared, and beside it, what looked like the grounds of an old country casona. "Do not enter, Fundo NN" said a sign. We turned around, cursing the guy for giving us misleading directions, almost certain that he wouldn't be there. But he was. The ghost bus was late, perhaps,

He said that one had to follow that road despite the barrier, that it was a public road, and that people always went that way.

Another half turn and off we go to the barrier, and we passed it.

An hour earlier, for some reason the filament for the high beam went out (it didn't burn out, because it came back later), and I only had the low beam, which went from bright light to pitch dark 4 or 5 metres ahead of the bike. Ben had his lights, but when he fell behind, it was like riding towards a black curtain.

As we moved forward, we were often startled by birds apparently sleeping in the middle of the road, winged shadows that passed just outside our headlight's beams, branches that looked like lurching hands, and above it all, a full moon behind a veil of high cloud...

The road got steadily worse, narrower, more windy, rocks the size of a cat strewn everywhere, and we even had to cross a few streams. Ben managed very well with his bike, the guy is a maestro.

After the last stream we stopped to let his bike cool and to take some pics. Total darkness, silence. If the Blair Witch had wanted two nice motorbikes for her colletion, they were there for the taking...

Further ahead we came across a fork in the road, and luckily I always carry a compass somewhere in my pack. We then descended down a switchback mountain road, and we were finally out on flat ground again.

After leaving that spooky black hole, flanked by tall black hills and under black trees that blocked out the weak moon, reaching a paved road gave the trip a sense of reality that so far had been missing.

And out of nowhere there were people walking on the street, not ragged and scary apparitions, but brightly coloured and made-up teenage girls, chatting and joking... of course! it was Saturday, they were on their way to a party!

After a few kilometres we finally reached the Ruta 5, and then set off for Santiago.

Dusty, tired (one of us with a very sore back), we finally arrived back home.



Blogger Loredana Braghetto said...

George said, "God is short and fat."
Nick said, "No, He's tall and lean."
Len said, "With a long white beard."
"No," said John, "He's shaven clean."
Will said, "He's black," Bob said, "He's white."
Rhonda Rose said, "He's a She."
I smiled but never showed 'em all
The autographed photograph God sent to me.

Shel Silverstein

1:25 AM  

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