Thursday, February 19, 2009

Out of Ushuaia, Back to Chile and Torre de Paines: Feb 17 - 19

When I left Ushuaia it was an incredibly beautiful day. The mountains that had been so miserable when I arrived in Ushuaia (cold, rain, fog, and dark) were just the opposite. This lasted for a while, then ¨Patagonia¨ caught up with me again. After three hours I was hitting heavy winds (60 mph) that were pushing me across the road. This was on asphalt, but I knew that after the border I had 120 km of dirt and gravel and I really didn´t want to fight it in the wind. Also, my stomach was doing flip-flops on its own.

Fortunately there is a small hotel at the border at San Sebastian. It´s the only thing there, so they know they have you by the short ones. They only had a room with four beds, but said they would only charge me for a double. Anything at that point.

Later, at dinner, I was talking to three young ladies from France and Belgium who needed a place to stay and the waitress suggested they share my room. Oh, if only I was producing porn pictures I couldn´t have come up with a better plot premise! Unfortunately, reality once again reared its ugly head and we just ended up turning it into a dorm... or more like I was the intruder at a girl scout camp. But it was a place to sleep, and ended up being much cheaper by sharing.
And anyway, I can always lie about the ending!

The next morning was much calmer, and the ride fine. Passing Paso Garibaldi gave me a great view of one of Southern Chile´s famous fjords.

The weather from San Sebastian then turned cold. I mean REALLY cold. I stopped to put on everything I owned, including all my electric gear. (Thank you Luz for the balaklava... I really needed it). I arrived in Puerto Natales (Chile) and spent the night.

Originally I had been planning on spending a few camping in Parque Torre de Paines, but given the cold I decided against it. Remember, this is the South At Sixty Tour, not the I Can Suffer Through Anything Tour ... I´m a woooos! The electric gloves and jacket liner were great, but I forgot to turn off the headlights and when I arrived at the park I had a dead battery. You can´t push-start the bike on dusty gravel roads (no traction) but I finally found someone with jumper cables and got going again.
I had a spectacular day riding a couple of hundred miles of dirt to and through the park. Only one minor mishap that resulted in a sprained wrist that is still bothering me. But you can see why the scenery is worth the effort. The critters below are guanacos, a kind of cross between a llama and an antelope.

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