"How cool!", we chimed as the estancia owners came home on their horses and with an animal they'd killed for the upcoming festival in Villa O'Higgins thrown over one of the horses.
We sounded like we'd just walked off City Slickers, and felt slightly embarrassed hearing ourselves. But we'd hit another level of remoteness along the Carretera Austral, that was so far removed from our way of life. Small house with no electricity. Just the basics - living off the land, being as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible.
The three of us stood huddled under their porch, waiting with others we'd previously met who were camping there. It was a slightly ironic sight as the gauchos came down the drive, looking a lot drier in their more basic ponchos versus us city slickers drenched to the core despite the various Gore-Tex that we were dressed head to toe in!
It'd been another day of relentless rain but cycling in the rain had actually been good fun and as long as we were moving, we were warm. But after a dash and run for it in the morning, and with everything soaked, we needed to dry our stuff out and ideally find a shelter for the night.
I'd heard about there being a Refugio around the area and the gauchos seemed to be the owners. Like all Chileans I've met so far, they were so incredibly warm and friendly! They generously welcomed us to use the Refugio, and free of charge. I think the sight of three drenched gringos might have looked a tad pathetic and they took pity but either way, we were so grateful.
We peddled back up the road a few hundred meters to find a proper little hut, with ample room for three people. Filled with positive messages (my favourite 'may your good spirits guide you on the road'), a fire and outside toilet, we felt spoilt!
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