Leaving the end of the world back North...
My free ride across the Estrecho de Magallanes.
not really an official campground, but a safe sweet spot away from the wind.
Little bike meltdown, no wonder I smelled something funny??
This doesn't mean - Beach near - it means, hold on to your bars!!
I was lucky to get a clear window leaving Ushuaia, riding in the sun is a very pleasant thing down here. It was a strange feeling to ride north after such a long time going south. Before I was so anxious to get to the end of the road, now I was going North, which also meant riding against the wind! Not a good thing.
The ride was perfectly calm all the way to San Sebastian, the 1st border crossing in Tierra del Fuego. (you have to cross borders with Chile - Argentina twice in a short distance which is a pain in the A)
A massive line up of people were waiting for their stamp. The line was out the door. I was a bit frozen from the ride and had to wait outside in 100 kms hour wind. Not good. One thing I didn't mind, I could see a good rain storm coming from the west, the sky was black, winds were strong and knew it was going to be a rough ride. Maybe with luck it would pass by will doing my paperwork.
Hour and half later, one more stamp in passport, I was ready to go. I wasn't looking forward to leave since it was now raining and the next stretch of road was dirt (now mud) Luckily the heavy rain came to drizzle not long after I left, the road road was in bad shape. Pot holes big enough to swallow my bike and mud. I had over 100kms to go before the ferry crossing out of Tierra del Fuego.
I didn't want to miss the boat so I gunned it at full speed down the mud track. Cars could only drive at about 50 kms/hr. Good thing about a dirt bike in those road conditions... I was going at 100kms /hr. Every once in a while a truck would pass by, splashing me with mud from the deep pot holes - or rocks! once that hit my helmet. I didn't care since I was already covered with mud.
It was now getting late, 30 kms before the ferry, my bike stops, out of gas, so I fill up my tank with my reserves and then my bike wouldn't start?? nothing, not even a click. A bit of a panic kicked in my brain, looked around and couldn't figure what could be the problem. I finally noticed the positive cable on my battery had broken off from all the vibration of the road. A quick fix and I was back on the road.
I made it to the ferry in time to catch the last one. As I walked in the small restaurant to get a warm meal, I must of been a little muddy as all eyes were starring at me. Wondering were the hell I came from.
After a nice warm meat sandwich, the ferry came and rolled on in relief to be heading out of Tierra del Fuego. The nice men at the ticket office of the ferry looked at me covered with mud, didn't even charge me for the ride.
1/2 hour later I was back on the main land. I need to find a shelter spot to camp as the wind was blowing hard and it was now almost midnight, a light house by the ferry seemed to be the perfect spot. Put up my tent and past out exhausted from my long day, over 400kms from Ushuaia.
I woke up with warm rays of sunshine on my tent, I was excited to see the sun and windless day. Packed my bike and got onto the nice paved road to Rio Gallegos. 70 kms before Rio is the border crossing of Monte Aymond. Stamped my bike out of Chile in less the 5 min, thinking wow... easy one! Stamp in Argentina, now bike papers at aduana.. not so fast! The guy at aduana looks at my bike registration. " Expiration 2008!! " he says, "No importante" I tell him. It was the first time since Canada that the Aduana said something about the expiry date of my registration. Trying to explain in my best spanish that this expiry is only for Canada and has no importance down here. " Expiration 2008!!!" he says again. He takes off with my papers... 1/2 hour goes by, as he walks around from officer to officer with my papers. I'm started to loose patience so I walk to one officer holding my papers, he's looking at my registration all puzzled. Explaining again that these papers are only for Canada and the importance is that I'm the owner of the bike. "wait" he tells me. Another 1/2 hour goes by, papers are still passed around to different officers.
1 1/2 hour later, an officer walks up to me with my papers in hand, looks at me and says, "todo bueno!! no problemo!"
Fustrated, I was ready to pop the aduana fat guy on the nose, but held it together and stayed calm... "Gracias senior"
The fat man hands me back papers to sign, tells me I should call Canada to get new registration so no future problems...
Ya right!! "Gracias" I'm out of here.
Approx 40 kms from Rio, I filled up my bike with my last reserves. I knew it wouldn't take me to Rio so I was getting a bit nervous, I rode slowly to not use too much gas. Out of nowhere I noticed a farm, I rode up the driveway to see if anyone was around, luckily someone was, asked them if I could buy gas from them. The man walked in the barn and came out with a couple litters of gas. I asked how much he wanted. His wife told me.... " In Argentina, we don't ask for money!!"
Got to love these countries! I thanked the lovely couple and rode to Rio Gallegos.
Rio Gallegos isn't the most appealing town, a bit of a *shithole* I stopped at the gas station filled up my bike and my stomach with a nice milanesa ( the best meat sandwich in the world) and a warm Cafe Late. I was starving after spending 2 hours at the Border.
I needed to buy a new rear tire but since it was sunday, everything was closed. It was only 1 pm. Being a shit town, I didn't really wanted to stay the night, so decided to ride to El Calafate where I could maybe find a tire and a much better place to be.
The ride west was horribly windy, riding straight into the wind for 300 kms. 125 kms from Rio is Esperanza, the only gas station on that stretch. I stopped to fill up and rest. I noticed a strange smell, looking around the bike. I saw my right side bag was pushing the plastic of the bike against the muffler. My rack had cracked from the bad road in Tierra del Fuego. The medical kit I had inside my dry bag was mostly all melted from the heat. Little repairs with wood I found around the yard, problem was fixed.
I was happy to arrive in El Calafate, I knew the place since I had been here before. The next morning I found a welder to fix my rack (Gringo price of $25, last time I fixed it Pichilemu Chile, the guy didn't want any money, in Peru - $3)
I was happy, my bike was happy... so I rode off to the heart of Patagonia, El Chalten, 230kms. I wanted to save the best for last, I was anxious to see the famous Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre granite spires. - The logo of Patagonia (an american clothing company) and a world class mountaineering, crack climbing heaven. - when weather permits!