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industrialised! (or: first impressions of chile*)

CHILE: LOS QUEÑES — ROMERAL — CURICO — MOLINA — SAN CLEMENTE — COLBUN — LINARES — CHILLÁN

Hell, no, there isn’t any pre-industrial here! Chile is a ‘developed’ nation. It’s a South American success story, all based on Chicago school economics.

A fruit processing factory, my first 'camp' in Chile after descending from the mountains into a frightening world of sturdy fences, locked gates and private property signs.

My host, Juan, the new owner of this slightly derelict plant, is not the first person I approach in pursuit of a place to pitch my tent after a long weary day but his warmth and charm make up for the earlier rejections.

The night watchman doesn't show up but Flaco, the charming watch dog, keeps a close eye on me.

Next morning, I meet Kati at the public library (with free wifi) in Romeral, a mere 12 kilometres down the road. She invites me to lunch and we chat so much that I end up staying the night.

Oh, dear! Is this what I exchanged my beloved desert for?

Even with a cycle path, this is NOT where I want to be.

I pass a haunting memorial on the highway verge. (I'm still a sucker for a big top despite a more or less working knowledge of its interior.) I discover yet again that I am overly optimistic sometimes when perusing maps. It turns out to be very challenging to escape Ruta 5 if you happen to want to travel south. (And I cannot say that I wasn't warned, either.) All those little lines that almost connect on paper and so you can imagine that there will be a way, some way- well, it turns out they really don't connect. There are impassable rivers and other real life obstacles. I persevere and spent half a day engaged in some interesting semi-urban river fording before I give up and slug it out for a day and a half on the highway.

And even when I do escape the highway's clutches, this part of Chile is all industrial agriculture.

Sunflowers.

Wheat.

Machine.

Hydro.

*To be honest, this is in fact my third foray into Chile’s territories and my real first impressions were quite different.

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