72 miles, 919 feet of climb, 607 ft max
After breakfast, the first item of business was to visit the Sernatur (Chilean tourist board) office right as they opened at 8:30 on a Monday morning. I wanted to find out about possible lodging in some of the small towns along my route back north up the coast. The nice ladies in the office made some phone calls and found me places to stay in three towns. They also gave me some maps.
The way out of town was on a busy highway. This is the way to Santiago and all
points north via Ruta 5, so there was pretty heavy traffic until San José, where
I turned west toward the coast on a secondary paved road. At the end of this road
is the little town of Mehuin which has a nice beach but not much else to recommend it.
On the unpaved road north out of town you immediately hit a monster climb, but the
view from the top is magnificent.
They had a bunch of heavy equipment at the top widening and grading the road. Later
on I rode on other places that had apparently been worked on recently because there
was a thick coating of gravel which makes riding less than pleasant.
However I made it to Nueva Toltén well before sundown. I found the Hotel and Bar
Turismo recommended by the ladies in the tourist office. The bar and restaurant
are downstairs and the rooms are on the second floor.
I had dinner in the dining room. The owner/waiter set me a table facing the TV but
when he saw me studying my maps he came over to talk. While I waited for my food
we had a long conversation (with him doing most of the talking). Among other things,
he said I am heading for Mapuche territory. I should experience some of the
indigenous culture and food while I am up there. He said he himself is part
Spanish but mostly Mapuche. The Mayor of the town of Tirúa is a man named
Adolfo Mijagur, who is "the most important person in the Mapuche Lafquenche pueblo".
He said Sr. Mijagur is a friend of his and I should look him up when I get to Tirúa.
He wrote down his name for me, Cesar Gallegos Curin.
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