Okay so the internet here is pretty patchy, so getting stuff online is a bit of a mission. Here's some thoughts from just after I arrived. This is over two weeks ago now ...
|Looks a bit like down South back home|
Although it’s only my second day here, I feel like I’m starting to settle into life at the site. After today I am knackered and we haven’t started digging yet. Since I’ve been in Chile I’ve managed to fall pretty sick, which is why I’m feeling so jaded right now I think. However, there was no way I was missing out on today’s ride to the far edge of the property for a look at what the boys already here have been doing, and some amazing down hills on the way home.
|On the way from Coyhaique|
The landscape here is eerily similar to parts of New Zealand. When we hopped off the plane in Balmaceda it could have been the Otago plains outside. Tussock and rolling hill was visible as far as the eye could see. Now we’ve moved out to the site it is in some ways similar to the Southern part of the West Coast. Of course, the landscape around here is a lot grander. Huge steep hills surround the immediate lake, with snow-capped mountains visible in the none-to-distant background. The lake itself is a large expanse of water, with a bright icy blue hue. Clearly it is filled with glacial run-off. There are also several other rivers nearby. Up on the hills many small waterfalls are apparent, which are stunning up close. Overall the scenery is extremely rugged and very beautiful.
|The hill we'll be digging on first up|
It is also rather remote. To get to the site from the nearest town involved a two hour drive down some particularly rough gravel roads. Alternatively, entry is possible from the river at the far end of the lake, where there is also another site. The site does not have any vehicles readily available, for either land or water. In short, getting badly hurt or very sick is not a good option here. It also means that running down to the shops to pick up some supplies is actually quite a big ordeal. For the next three months, we are all pretty much stuck on site.
|Looking down the vallety from the Helipad|
The accommodation is pretty mint but backwards in lots of ways. All of the power is sourced from a generator out in the shed. It cuts out briefly a couple of times each day. Internet access is patchy and slow at best when working. One of the showers can’t be used because the runoff pops up in the bedroom next door. Apparently it is not uncommon for the gas, which heats the water, to run out for days at a time.
The food has seemed okay so far, but is meant to get repetitive pretty quick. Breakfast is cereal and toast. Lunch is a couple of pan filled with some meat and cheese. Pan (pronounced paan) is the local bread here, sort of a cross between pita bread and a roll. They aren’t bad toasted. Dinner is a piece of meat with rice and some veg. After being a student for so long it doesn’t seem so bad. Not having to cook is a big plus too. The maids seem pretty choice but it’s hard to know what’s going on sometimes as they don’t speak English.
|Moma, good times trail dog|
Already the best part about being here is the riding. The hillside is a scarred mess of crisscrossing tracks. From one day riding it seems like all of the tracks are built to be hardwearing and loads fun. The climb is a good honest one, which is long and steep enough to be interesting without being a huge ordeal. The downhill tracks are mint, with a good mix of fast flowing tracks and challenging technical sections. Already I can tell that my descending is going to improve dramatically during my stay. Over the whole track network there are a lot of structures made out of wood which keeps things interesting. The rocks are super slick when wet, and there are forced hike-a-bike sections on some tracks where the terrain is too gnarly to build rideable tracks.
|Looking back from near the end of The Gulag|
I am looking forward to getting stuck into some decent work and doing a bunch more riding. While the weather is good we will be trying to get as many days as possible pushed through. It is already pretty cold here and it’s only going to get worse. Working in snow at some stage is a certainty. The next couple of days are going to be filled with safety stuff and then it’s into the digging. I can’t wait.