I headed on to Coyhaique and made it before dark and arrived at my hostel. Small world again because Peter, the bicyclist I met in Futaleufú was sitting in the kitchen. I was in a hurry to shower and go meet Mena and Melé (who I had met at the hostel in PRMB) so I asked Peter to join us. We walked down to the plaza and waited for M and M and walked to a Trattoria and there met up with Menas friends Vanessa and Luis. The food was great and relatively cheap. Peter had already eaten (it was 10:30 by this time) but the rest of us got great gourmet pasta dishes and between us two bottles of wine and two desserts and peter had two beers and the bill was only 90,000 clp which is about $144. Not bad for six people. We were the last ones in the restaurant and after we paid the bill the owner / chef came out and offered us a Fernet which is a typical Chilean after dinner drink. Very strong and you drink it with a little tiny straw. We shut that place down and moved on to a cerveceria. We shut down that place too and headed back around 2 am. The next morning I eventually got up and found a self service car wash as my car was absolutely caked with mud and dust and every time I closed a door or the back hatch a cloud of dust would greet me in the face. Plus I figured since the drive to Puerto Chacabuco is all paved I wouldn't be on more dirt roads. I also vacuumed the inside. When I got back to the hostel I had a message from Mena inviting me and Peter to a lake with her and Mele and some others. We arranged to meet up on the plaza so we went over and found them. A young woman was with them and I saw her and just stared at her. I knew I'd seen her before but I couldn't place her. I just stared and Mena was watching giggling. The woman was giggling and finally said she was from the boat. I put it together then. She was one of the women from the boat ride to the marble island from Puerto Sanchez. Jesus what a small world. Turns out she is friends with Mena. Mena had told her about me before I arrived and where I'd been and Catarina had guessed it would be me before I arrived since I was one of the only Americans around. Hahahaha. So funny. I just couldn't believe how I kept running into people here.
We clambered into two vehicles and headed to Lake Elizabeta and hung around for some time. Of course down a dirt road. So glad I washed my car. Close by was a Huaso rodeo. Huasos are a particular type of Chilean cowboy who are known by the colorful blankets they wear over their shoulders and their type of hat. Another type of cowboy is the Gaucho who wears a beret style type of hat. The horses of these Huasos were extremely lively and beautiful but the rodeo itself was a bit disturbing as the Huasos work in pairs and corner a cow into the wall and drive it this way with their horse touching the cow and pushing it into the side of the arena. The cow of course was frantic and it was hard to watch but this is a very traditional event that isn't just a sport. These men are actual ranchers and their horsemanship was amazing. Outside of the main arena was a practice arena where boys as young as probably five years old were mounted atop these feisty horses and showed perfect horsemanship. These kids were probably riding before they could walk. We left after staying only a while because it was difficult for some of my companions to watch. We headed back to coyhaique and went for some sushi. The sushi is very different. No seaweed but many different things both inside and on the outside of rolls such as Serrano ham!! I said my final goodbyes to M and M and headed back to the hostel. Point to mention, this hostel is by far the worst place I've stayed. The bathroom was really dirty and the kitchen wasn't much better. The owner appears to use something to "clean" with that smells like kerosene. Can't wait to get out of here in the morning and head to what has been described as a luxurious hotel in Puerto Chacabuco for which I'm spending over $100 a night on for two nights. I need some "normality" after being on the road, making my own fires, eating out of the back of my car, and dealing with gravel and dirt roads dodging potholes, dying to get my clothes washed, and using a towel I bought at the supermarket in Santiago. Yes, I'm looking forward to a sauna, fluffy towels, etc etc.