Category Chile

Pacific to Atlantic

Lucinda and I had to go back Buenos Aires to prepare for a big flight west. Although you’d think this would be a shorter thing to do from Santiago, Lucinda’s welfare is my top priority. There’s a freight forwarder in BA who has a great reputation for handling bikes well so we went there, despite the additional hassle.

So here’s the route we took, right across South America (and thanks Dan for showing me how to group these tracks)
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Not many pictures or story for this very long track. There’s an explanation at the bottom of the post.

The first leg is back over the Christo Redentor pass between Chile and Argentina. We’ve been here before but it’s colder this time.

Out of Santiago we climb into the Andes
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This time we climb rather than descend the famous switchbacks. It’s like climbing a wall. Poor contrast in this pic, you’ll probably have to click on it
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Serious road engineering. There’s been progress since we were last here
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To the border, but there’s a problem. Both countries immigration/aduana are now in the same building. Last time they were miles apart. I need a gap where neither border can see me for a few minutes. This will present difficulties down the road, but nothing that can’t be finessed. I can’t explain what yet, but nothing too weird
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Through the equally famous tunnel. It goes the whole way under the mountain ahead
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Through smaller tunnels
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Through valleys
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And across the plains to Mendoza.

I haven’t done a restaurant review before. But I wandered into this small place and had my best meal in 20 months. The food has been not-so-hot for a long time. I’ll explain another time. Three courses and a bottle of Torrontes for 350 pesos, about $37 US. A lot of money here. Stop here at GPS coordinates S32 53.508 W68 50.861
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The ride between Mendoza and San Luis was boring. And it rained. I didn’t take a single photo.

Just outside of San Luis there’s the small town of Potrero de los Funes in some hills which appear surprisingly in the great plain of central Argentina. You see that little road here? It’s a racetrack
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Lucinda has never been on a track before and wants us to try it. It’ll  be romantic, she says.

The track at Potrero de los Funes looks like this
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Stuck in the middle of anywhere, 100’s of miles from anything, the Potrero de los Funes Circuit, a 6.3km track was inaugurated in 2008, and hosts local Formula Renault, TC2000 and FIA GT Championships, among other stuff. So it’s a serious circuit. From above it looks like this
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And on race day it looks like this
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We get up early the first day
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We roll out onto the track. Take a couple of laps warming her tires up.

Start in pole position
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Into the first corner nice and easy
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Out onto a long stretch
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Approaching the next right
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Sweeper
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A left
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Hairpin
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Etc etc

Race to the finish
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Then on to Cordoba.

Up into cold mountains
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Pretty ridge running
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A section of track
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There were huge Cotoneasters roadside
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And a good orange shrub I couldn’t ID
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Pampas on the hillsides. Normally they’re on the flats
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A small Silene
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The summit was a bare rocky plain that ran for a few miles
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With small ponds everywhere
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And down to rich green pastures
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Lucinda poses in the middle of a roundabout
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We arrived late into Cordoba and left early so no pictures.

As it happens my Garmin GPS has been a nightmare for the last few days. I do all the tricks I’ve learned over the last 20 months and nothing I can do can bring it back to sanity. I won’t bore you with the details but despite Garmin insisting it’s not a hardware problem I’ll be replacing it down the road. In the interim I have to use it as a map, not a GPS. Here’s an example of it’s routing skills. The road is in red, the purple is the recommended route. Nuts
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Or a particularly bad moment. It wants us to follow the purple line! So we ignore it and follow the hard map background, just like stone-age times.
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Nothing but grief from this useless thing since it first lost its mind back in Savanna, Georgia. And Garmin support is useless.

The next two days were a fast ride over flat farmland through Rosario to Buenos Aires
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This is one of the biggest roads in Argentina. I would never normally ride on such a thing
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But truth be told, my mind has moved beyond South America. We’ve been here long enough and we want a change.

So I take this enormous road and let my thoughts wander to wondering where in the world I’ll find my next adventure. Lucinda and I have a much clearer idea about the big picture now. It’s taken me a long time to come to some conclusions about why I’m doing this, but the picture is clearer. I can now see more than just where, I’m beginning to see why and how.

Adding to this clearer picture is the realization that Lucinda and I are riding well together. I haven’t dropped her once in a technical riding situation in South America. I’ve dropped her hitting a traffic barrier outside Lima (I had a similar surprise in Leon, Nicaragua) and we’ve had the standard drop manuevering-at-walking-speed in sand or mud when I’ve put my foot down to find nothing there.

So combined with some new ideas about goals, we’re in a happy place right now.

Or we thought we’d finished here, but a nice thing happened on our way to do a bike/paperwork chore: Uruguay.

back to Santiago

We spent a few days in Puerto Montt after the boat ride.  As previously mentioned, a working town
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Some good buildings
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And plenty of good graffiti
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There are a row of busts along the waterfront. The usual Chilean heroes. But one caught my eye as I stumbled over his name: Dagoberto Godoy Fuentealba
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Dagoberto, who was teased at school, at least I think he was, was the first Chilean to fly across the Andes, at a maximum height of 20,600 feet on December 12, 1918

After Claudia left for Guatemala we rode straight up the PanAm 700 miles over a couple of days

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They were burning off fields on the way
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A horrible road but we’re trying to wrap up Latin America. My mind is occupied most of the day with the track ahead, on the other side of the Pacific. But there are a few things to be done first. Pick up my new passport in Santiago, do some travel paperwork, change gears.

Lucinda is very tired. I’m going to do half the work she needs here and the more complicated half at our new destination. More on this later.

Saludos
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the Amadeo

The ship’s late.

We’re going up the Chilean coast, through the archipelago then on to Puerto Montt. The trip is 800 nautical miles and takes 4 days.

We’re getting the Amadeo, a 190 meter cargo ferry. It’s off-season so no fancy ships going north. What’s a cargo ferry? Well it’s three levels of raw materials, trucks, containers and live cattle, with token accommodation for about 40 people in cabins of 4 or 6 people. There’s a primitive cafeteria with strict serving times, no lounge or anything. It’s spartan and just barely clean enough. Or if you haven’t been on the road for 18 months, not clean enough. The toilets were totally rough as you’d expect. We’re going to come off this looking like hell. But Claudia’s ok with the idea and Lucinda’s almost bouncing on her suspension with anticipation, so we’re a team.

We show up at 9:00 pm to board. This isn’t a car ferry and no other motorcycles. Perfect
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The other passengers wait outside the shipping company office. They’re split between Chilean truck drivers (travelling with their rigs) and sorry-looking backpackers looking for a cheap way home
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I’ve made this excellent map of the journey for you with some of the event points. You’ll have to click on it to see anything. We’re moving north, up the page.
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With the shitty photos and rough map, we’re off to a messy blog post start, but it sets the tone nicely.

At about 10 it’s time to board. This is fun, riding up into the belly of a ship. We haven’t done this since crossing from Baja to the mainland in Mexico
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So the rag-tag group walks along the dock and up the ramp into the ship following a sailor guide and Lucinda and me riding off to the side.

The belly, empty. The backpackers and truckers are to the left, just out of shot
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We’re told to wait separately. A couple of sailors walk the group over to what looks like a truck elevator
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And yup, up they go. Somewhere. This could be a bad situation and they’re off to be slaughtered and turned into sausages I’m thinking. If this was Guatemala that would be inevitable. No point in first robbing the backpackers unless there’s a market for Peruvian touques or porn magazines. But omg they’ve got Claudia
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Then it’s our turn. We ride on and wait. Up we go, the movie to the left (click, click enlarge, click HD)

When we arrive at the next level a guy shows us to a corner on the middle level. I ask him where to tie down Lucinda and he shakes his head, saying he’ll do it. This concerns me but I resolve to come down every hour to check on her until she’s secure.

No-ones around. I grab my duffel and tank bag and head off to the only person I can see. He shows me up a couple of flights of stairs, along the outside companionway
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Into the ship and then the hunt’s on for Claudia. Who I find quickly as there are only about 8 cabins. This is ours, 4 bunks, shared with a young Spain-type Spanish couple, Alex and Marta. They’re on a 10 month trip of South America and Asia. The cabin is actually really cheery with nice bed curtains and stuff but tiny
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I dump my stuff and we go to explore. First the cafeteria. The comfy chairs are hogged for the whole trip by the Chilean truckers. Gringos aren’t welcome in the comfy zone. Fair enough. Mi casa, no en su casa
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Despite the lousy little cafeteria the kitchen was excellent and the Chef a terrific guy who didn’t want me to take his pic until he ran off and found his hat, but I had my camera up so anyway it went off somehow
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Then he was back with his hat
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Back to check on Lucinda. The empty deck
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Same view from above. I wonder if we’re travelling empty since we’re sailing in less than 6 hours
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We wait around for something to happen for a while, nothing does so we all go off to sleep. The next morning we wake and we’re chugging along. I go down to check Lucinda and somehow the boat is full of trucks, containers and cows. They’ve stuffed the whole boat, with everything perfectly aligned and secured in about 4 hours as we’re long gone.

Lucinda is tied down with respect in exactly the same chain pattern, but with webbing, as the trucks. She’s in the back corner here
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How they got them from the elevator to their positions without moving them sideways I have no idea
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Up top, cows. They’re in for a long journey. Four days on their feet
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Off through the archipelago
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The boat’s cruising speed is 11 knots btw
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A great start
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We’re all on deck in silent appreciation. The passes are tight at times
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Going through
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Passing little islets
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We’re welcome up on the deck during daylight
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The navigator has two big screens. GPS
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Radar
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And depth
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It gets rockier
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We’re all enjoying the close bits
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Then an incredible view up to the Torres de Paine area. Pic is worth a click
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Later, there are two Orcas. Claudia can’t believe it and is in excellent spirits as usual. I missed them. There are small sleek seals in small groups throughout the trip
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The next day the weather and the mountains change
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Looks a bit like BC at times
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Passing a shipwreck parked on a reef
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Less welcoming
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and
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We’re looking forward to seeing the only town on route, Puerto Eden. We’re told it’s specially beautiful because it’s in a dramatic and very narrow pass. Furthermore we’re told that we’ll be arriving at night and will wake to it because it’s against some kind of local maritime navigation law to pass through at night. But when we wake in the morning we’re miles beyond. Nervous questions to the crew about this yield nothing.

The weather on the third day is getting even worse. The sea is building. People are a bit jumpy because we all know that day 3 on this route is notoriously rough. The problem isn’t so much the wind, it’s only blowing 20ish but the big ocean swell coming at us broadside.

By mid-afternoon the ship is moving in a bad way. Not only are we rolling but the ship is pitching
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At the time I thought this was a dramatic shot but like all sea shots it shows nothing
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Claudia, Marta, Alex and I are on the ship’s bridge enjoying the show. I’m fairly sure people are going to get sick soon when Marta starts tending to Alex. He’s feeling ill. Claudia’s looking a bit green too. Uh oh. A lady officer says she has pills and Alex gets two and drops one on the floor. Reaching down to pick it up he freezes, then runs off to barf. OK, we’ve started I think, this should spread like wildfire, and it does.

Claudia immediately wants to go to the cabin, so off we go before she finishes the sentence. She says she wants to sleep. She does, which is a huge relief. Claudia has never been on a ship before in her life. I want this to be a good experience for her, not one where she ends up on an I.V.

The barfers, most of the gringos and none of the Chileans, are scattered around the boat looking lonely and defeated.

After checking on Claudia, who doesn’t want to be left alone but won’t eat, we head off to dinner about 3 or 4 hours after it all started. Because of the strict serving time, 7 pm precisely, we could do a body count. 4 gringos out of about 20 alive and well. Marta tells me it took forever to get Alex to the room. He was barfing off the side of the ship so violently and had so little strength he couldn’t make it down the companionway.

Unfortunately it got dark and the whole thing fizzled out.

In the morning there were a few backpackers in sleeping bags on the deck recovering. I guess they’d spent the night on deckDSC01506

We see our first ship of the whole trip
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The weather improves.

After 800 miles (and after missing Puerto Eden) we’d seen zero settlement of any kind, not even a token fishing village, and only one ship. There’s just nothing here on the huge southern coast, absolutely nothing. That was the big realization
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An uneventful day. The backpackers got out to watch the sunset
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It was the last night. Somehow being seasick had bonded the backpackers. Some of them produced bottles of random booze and got drunk in the cafeteria. No problem with that obviously, but they got loaded super-fast, like in about 20 minutes they were falling over chairs and hugging each other. One guy was attacking people with a Sharpee.

Later that night we arrived. I woke up to the lack of sound and went out for a look. At some point after this they started unloading the ship.
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After disembarking we could see the whole ship for the first time
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Everyone was driven by bus to the shipping company office about 5 miles away and Lucinda and I tagged along, changed Claudia over to a taxi, and headed into central Puerto Montt, which although an essential waypoint is a town to not hang around in.

It had been a worthwhile trip. It felt very authentic being on the Amadeo. It was interesting not being prioritized as passengers on a boat or ferry normally are, and the ship somehow fit in well with the overall Patagonian ride.

The road distances south of Puerto Montt are huge. It takes weeks to get to Ushuaia and back if you take the western route. With so little on the map, you don’t realize it until your into it. With a little bit of diligence riding around Central and South America is no huge hardship. But the combination of the Carretera Austral and Ruta 40 south of that is a true adventure ride.

Saludos
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four days back to Puerto Natales

Nothing is less fun than backtracking, specially if it’s a big distance. There’s no alternative route back to Natales where we have a date with a boat.

On day 2 of the return, we hid behind this building from the wind on the way back to Porvenir
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Hours later we were back on the coast of the Magellan Straight. Lucinda posed for a shot
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Wrecked fish boats every few miles
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With some time to kill before Porvenir and the wind down we rode down a track to the fishing village. A collection of shacks really
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There were 10 or so homes. A man appears from one. We look at his net
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And his boat
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He’s finished fishing for the day. He can’t believe I’m from Canada and have ridden my bike down. So he insisted he makes me te (tea) in his home. He tells me about the fish (no less than ever) the birds (he loves them) and the sea (he loves it). He’s been here all his life
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It was a shame to leave such a gentle soul without hearing more stories. We had one thing in common – something neither of us had
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Lucinda likes riding these tracks through the turf and we took a long detour back
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The next morning we got the same pretty ferry out of Porvenir. No wind. Sun. Warmish for the first time in days
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We roll on and this guy insists on doing the tie-down. He makes a mess of it but is very funny as we go very slightly off-topic
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He ends up untying everything, chocking her up and throwing a single line over. I don’t really care as the water is as smooth as glass. Lucinda’s cool with it either way I can tell
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Bye Porviner
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Then it’s a windless and fast ride back to Punta Arenas. Claudia’s flying in tomorrow and I have to meet her at the micro-airport. It’s taken her 24 hours and three connections to get here from Guatemala.

The next morning we walk the waterfront to see the birds. There are three species of cormorants, two albatross and numerous gulls
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We’re not the only ones out birdwatching
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It seems to me that birds can show brilliant colors like no other life. So maybe someone could explain why marine bird life, shorebirds, cormorants, penguins, gulls, you name it are nearly all black and white
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The industrial buildings on the waterfront are painted with murals. They’re not for the benefit of tourists. They have a strange quality about them
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and
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Punta Arenas is a great place. My favorite Chilean town except Valpo. But this blog is a road report only, so limited in what I get up to or photograph, so just get down here and see for yourself.

Then there’s a logistical thing. Lucinda hasn’t the room to carry a passenger with the duffel so we put Claudia on a bus and follow/lead it to Puerto Natales. I’ve explained this to her in advance.

Along the way we finally get close to the Rheas we’ve seen off and on. These are maybe 40 or 50 pounds of huge flightlessness, maybe 3 feet tall at the shoulder, 5 feet tall when looking around.
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Meanwhile the ride has been mostly like this and freezing
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When we get to Natales I can’t believe it. What was a maelstrom a couple of weeks ago is a millpond
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Por ejemplo, here it is today

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And was two weeks or so ago
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Clearly no predators around
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This being Chile, the boats are sophisticated
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But on the dock is a rope drying. Depth knots in meters? Not fathoms, too close. Why anyone is doing this is another mysteryP1030155

The water’s clear cold and beautiful
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The passport epic worked out. Everything always works out. As the space for stamps got more desperate, the officials looked more carefully at my problem. And they all cooperated. The bad start was because I flirted with the Chilean lady officer thinking that was a slam-dunk winning strategy and she wanted to correct me on that.

So, they had no problem with overlaps. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to all of them
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two days to Ushuaia

An hour from now it’s going to start blowing a gale. And it’s a hardish dirt ride southwest to the Argentinian border
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The day’s track. To the end of the world, the furthest south
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For the first hour, nothing except this
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We’ve been riding away from the coast for a while, then we turn back through some hills. Plenty of Guanaco around. Every few days you see the dried remains of one that didn’t complete the jump over the endless fence and got hung up
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Down to the sea
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A lot of road shots recently. I think because it’s been pretty barren since the Carretera and the surface has been more of the adventure. Anyway, here we have a good track to follow despite the wind.

(on that subject I just read that Jeff crashed in the wind approaching Tres Lagos (see the post to Chalten) and came across two Brazilians whose bikes were knocked down simultaneously. So it looks like me and Jerzy were the only people we know who didn’t crash somewhere on Ruta 40. Heroes in our minds, both. Jeff said the wind which Lucinda thought was about 50 mph was more like 70 to 80 for him)
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Past a fishing shanty
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Blowing but beautiful. Just the road and the sea
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Then inland
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We have to cross into Argentina yet again. I’ve counted all these crossings in my passport-stamp-space issue. More on that to follow. Anyway, here we are, some outpost in the middle of nowhere. Very quiet, no breeze
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But because they’re rich, the Chileans make a show of their border post. It’s efficient, no more than 20 minutes and we’re through. I’m bored by the lack of border buzz in South America and have a hankering for the chaos and corruption of say, El Salvador. No kidding, the worse it is, the more addictive
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And so don’t bother with the Argentine crossing photos today. More straight, cold distance killing
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Then we start gaining elevation slowly
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Through a 100 mile forest of tough low confers
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I saw another of the many small foxes here
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Then our first view of the southern mountains. I had no idea if the pass was going to be snowed over or not as the only person I know in the area is Jerzy and I’m not sure if he’s on the same stretch. We both decided to do the full 450K to Ushuaia today and not stop at Rio Grande I was to learn later.
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I don’t stop for many photos. We’re headed through Paso Garibaldi (really) somewhere ahead
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Past a lake. Christ it was cold
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A moment of sunshine however
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Another lake
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The trees
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The final climb up to the pass
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Nice
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A gigantic peak
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It had been snowing in the pass. We’d been fighting a big headwind for the last few hours and it was near here that we got hit with a directionless (maybe straight down) gust that was so strong I was momentarily confused and nearly lost Lucinda. I had no idea what direction it came from but it was like we’d had a collision with something
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The last hour was a frozen struggle against the breeze. Of the nearly 4000km’s on the Carretera Austral and Ruta 40 since Puerto Montt, already pretty far south, about 2500 has been dirt and 1000 in strong wind. This isn’t much short of the drive from Vancouver to Toronto Google Maps tells me.

We’re here. Ushuaia
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two days to Porvenir

Only 700K south to Ushuaia now.

The landscape from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas was mostly a cold wasteland. We woke up to the wind screaming, relieved we had a paved section for the day. Distorted trees outside of town, the last we’d see today
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The day’s track
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We’re at the top left of this, the tip of South America
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This is what it looked like the whole day
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With the slight exception of this
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And the last 20 miles, when we ran beside the ocean
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What was noticeable was the cold. I bought another cheep fleece layer back in Calafate and was now riding with 3 layers under my jacket, long-johns and glove liners (also bought in Calafate)

Featureless riding day number 4 out of 550 and the coldest yet. Because of the wind, colder than riding through snow in Rugby, North Dakota or Lake Placid, New York.

Punta Arenas was a pretty town and a huge surprise. The last ‘civilization’ ran out about 2500k of riding ago
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Quite formal, very clean and tidy
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A military parade in the town square. It reminds us of Arequipa
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Interesting architecture
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Excuse the bad shots. And we’re behind posting, so no history lesson today.

The next morning we leave for the ferry to Porvenir. This is exciting – our first crossing of the Magellan Straight and a reminder that we’re extremely south. The words remind me of our own magnificent Georgia Straight but best not to think about that. It makes me sad and homesick. But I have a feeling that’s a good thing somehow.

On our way to the dock Lucinda wants a shot beside a PT type boat
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At the terminal there are two boats – ours is the more interesting blue one
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And we see Jordan and James. They’ve got matching retro Honda 600’s, matching work jackets (over a riding jacket) matching pants, matching everything. They’ve gone for the dirtbag look, I guess for security through Central America. I don’t comment. Great guys
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And Yay! Jersey and Monica are here too. We all chat
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Monica and I laugh that chatting is Jerzy’s favorite thing. You’ll notice she’s heard this story before however, probably several times
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The bikes are tied down in a neat row. I use tubular webbing because I don’t carry cargo straps
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Leaving Arenas
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The boat’s half empty
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The bridge is nice
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Inside the Captain rolls pesos tightly. Considering we bought our tickets at the dock this is a mystery
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The helmsman turns these things to steer the boat
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Into the tiny town of Porvenir
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We wait for the foot passengers to disembark before easing off at an unnaturally slow speed, up on our pegs balancing the bike and blipping the gas as we ease through them. Anyone who doesn’t showboat (at the right time and place) in 2nd and 3rd world countries is suffering from depression Lucinda says
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Porvenir’s a small fishing village but perfect
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to Puerto Natales

Calafate was a good place to hang out before the last days south. We explored the area and rode as far around the lake as the road allowed. One breezy morning on the waterfront we had a big surprise. P1020510 Flamingoes again!

I suppose my childhood introduction to flamingoes were African photos in National Geographic so I think of them as tropical. Also, for my generation, African shots from National Geographic were our introduction to something else just as spectacular and seared into my memory but anyway. There are three species of flamingo in South America, this is P chilensis and it clearly doesn’t mind the freezing cold.

As well as the flamingoes they’re plenty of horses around. They look too sleek to be wild but there’s never any signs of enclosure P1020518

I was walking down the main street and saw a Triumph Tiger parked outside a restaurant. I may have mentioned it before but there’s one universal thing among long-distance riders: Tiger owners love their bikes. Normally I’d be somewhat frightened by anything made in England but there’s no arguing with the riders, the bike seems to do this well. I walk in the restaurant and meet Steve. I borrowed a photo from his Porvenir ferry ride as it’s better than mine crossing the magellan straits

He’s riding from Buenos Aires to Alaska then New York. Being Scottish he drinks and we did. So here’s a story: what would you like to be most if you had to hang out in Guatemala City? A just-retired British Commando with the 29th regiment, with a tattoo of a huge dagger and the word COMMANDO in big letters beside it. Also perfect for the El Salvador/Honduras border crossing. Riding skills? Currently races motocross, showed me a photo of himself about 30 feet in the air. Experience overseas with people trying to rob or kill you? Tours of duty in Afghanistan, Beirut, etc etc. He OK’d me to write this. Steve’s the guy who told me that regarding self-portraits ‘if you don’t pose, nobody knows’. There are only 5 towns from here on down so if there are any riders around, we’re going to meet them, and being a bit off-season they’re likely to be the hardier types. Me, I’m just late.

Off to Puerto Natales. The day’s track on Ruta 40 Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 7.20.36 PM

In the big picture it’s here Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 7.20.03 PM

The ride out of Calafate takes us up onto a plain P1020559

Before a long dirt road ahead we’re greeted by this spooky person at a cattle grid. Click the video to the left (click, click enlarge, click HD). I’ve developed a superstition about ride videos and so no more of those until I get over it

The road’s an unusual packed rock and dirt and fast. There’s not a lot of landscape today, so this is more of a ride report than usual
P1020568 Another of the many streams that cross the flats P1020570

Spectacular riding, changing surface all the time
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We think we see something on a pond
P1020606 Sure enough, more flamingoes

We approach slowly and discover something. Flamingoes don’t fly away, they walk away P1020609

We scare off a group of other birds. The wing markings are extraordinary, no idea what they are P1020614

They’ve decided to flatten out some of the long dips by pouring a rock road P1020621

The surface is lousy. Maybe 50 miles of on-the-pegs lousy P1020595

An unusual sight: sheep
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Further along something that’s fairly common, a fox. I’m guessing they eat the bird’s eggs. They’re very small, maybe 20 lbs
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Back onto great although rocky road. The Ruta 40 has every type of surface. Even sand and mud back in Belen

The road turns crappier than usual and we have to pick lines
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We cross marsh and ponds on the elevated road. If you click in this photo, tons of flamingoes
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On the other side and up close, these two swan-like birds. They’re huge but have duck bills, not swan bills
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We come to crossroads and the end of the dirt. There’s a gas station, closed. No problem, we’ve lots of gas
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The windows are covered in traveller’s stickers, including this one
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Now we’re racing for the border again through hills
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Through a border town, the name escapes me, under various layers of clouds
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First out of Argentina again. My passport stamp space is scary and causing me some stress. Photos coming up. The building’s a converted house and quiet. In fact I’m the only one there
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I give my speech and they’re brilliant and find a small spot for the stamp. Then off to the Chilean building. I’m in luck and they also find a tiny space for the stamp. I think the harder it gets the more they enjoy this. At least when I give my speech they all look up and listen intently to the gringo with a problem. A small epic is fun for everyone
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Downhill and another maybe 50 miles to Puerto Natales. The wind is strong and blowing us across the road again
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A panel truck, blown off
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Into the town. It’s blowing a gale
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Interesting buildings
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What look to be Coast Guard boats
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Around the corner in the lee, fishing boats
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Looking up the sound, here we are at last. Tierra del Fuego
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C Austral 6

The days’ track
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Google Earth
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Jeff’s pose, waiting for the gas station to open. I few days later I was ribbing another rider how come he had so many pictures of himself. His response: “if you don’t pose, nobody knows”
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Leaving town we climb up into the hills over the lake. It’s cold
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Normally, riding with others is difficult. But today it turns out that Jeff rides at almost the exact speed I do, same into the corners and down the straights, takes a ton of pictures like I do.

We climb out of Rio Tranquilo on the same loose washboard we rode in on. Soon we round the corner of the lake
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The riding turns brilliant
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This is the extent of civilization we’re going to see today. Another surprisingly good bridge
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Monster river, running fast and deep
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The view across the lake stays with us all day
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The long straights are a kind of stress relief after the loose corners and we blast down them
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There was a series of tight corners descending to a forested area that was slightly technical, although the picture doesn’t show it
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The valley bottom was fast ride
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Straight-line the open curves
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Then we’re out into the open again and climbing up the mountainside. Click on this for a great road view. Fantastic
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High up, looking back
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And looking forward
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Climbing more through rock
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Then, after a descent, the road changes to running along a ledge above the lake
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Click on this to see one of the best roads on the Carretera
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The sun comes out! Haven’t seen much of that in a long while
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A last look back
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Fast
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er, blue lake
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and a blue hill
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Into Chile Chico
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This is where Jeff and I get on to different agendas. He’s only in SA for six weeks (Santiago to Santiago) and has to press hard to see specific sights, and I have a few things that have to get done before the internet darkness of the coming section of Argentina, the border a few miles ahead.

The Carretera Austral is finished. One of the most famous routes in the world. We didn’t have the weather or views but the riding was excellent, at times difficult, always satisfying.