Since the last post we have traveled from Ushuaia to El Calafate in Chile. About 800Ks
We left Ushuaia on 27th December and drove accross Tierra Del Fuego to Porvenir.
It is “ripio” all the way. The countryside is bleak and reminds me of The Isle of Skye, without the white crofters cottages.
It took us three hours in Customs entering Chile….. No, it wasn’t because the Customs people thought we looked like a couple of dodgy bikers…There was just a massive queue and few staff. Totally ridiculous but patience is something I’m learning fast!
The ferry to Punta Arenas leaves from Porvenir. We looked up the times and found it leaves at 9-00am . Wrong! It actually leaves at 2.00pm so we had some time to kill in Porvenir. Another lesson learn’t…don’t rely on published timetables!
Porvenir is a run down little town that once was quite wealthy. It was settled by Croatians looking for gold. No gold now so it’s nerarly a ghost town with some surprisingly nice buildings still trying to survive! The people are an odd mix of Croatian/Indians.
On the road we met “Gilles” the Frenchman” extraordinaire!”
He swept past us on ‘the ripio’ on his big 1200cc BMW.
Gilles is one of a kind. To describe him is hard. He is a cross between Maurice Chevallier (a super suave Frenchman) and Walter Mitty!
His trade mark is his accent which is perfect. He is definitely Mr Cool. A great person to meet on the road…. He seems to lead the near perfect life! He is President of the World Bee Keepers Association and also hosts a web site called “world bees.com” This gives him money to travel around which he does for six months of the year.
He also has a farm near Bordeaux and a beautiful Australian wife….I told him I also had a beautiful Australian wife and shared a farm near Melbourne……Actually, the similarity doesn’t end there. His Australian wife is one of Europe’s top Dressage Riders…
This was becoming ‘Duelling Wives” ….so,not to be outdone I was telling him all about Merry and her expertise as a Horsewoman.
Gilles’ wife meets him on his trips and spends the rest of her time with the horses…sound familiar? (Merry, don’t worry I’m not going to do this for six months of the year for the next eight years like Gilles!..promise)
After leaving Gilles to glide his way forward, we went and faced up to our first “HOSTEL”
We found a little place that cost us $20 a night. We were expecting to feel like a couple of old farts…Not at all…Just about everyone in the Hostel could have joined the “Old fart Club”‘ so we felt at home!
Next we rode the long road to Parque Del Paine in Chile.
Paine is one of Chile’s main attractions. It really is magnificent.
It was my birthday, 28th so we camped!
The next day was sunny so we hiked for SIX hours!
It was very special although I was pleased to have a CERVEZA or two that evening
We were very lucky as the Park was evacuated the day we left. Some stupid Israeli boys camping lit a fire which has burnt down much of the park.
We’re now at EL CALIFATE after another long drive.
The issue is the wind. It really is horrendous.
On the bike you are riding at a 45% angle and then you get hit by a gust that sends you half way across the road. When a bus comes the other way it can be nail biting, especially in the ripio! It’s amazing though how you get used to it but it is quite tiring as you have to concentrate 100% of the time.
Also, I must be several inches taller as the wind lifts the helmet and stratches the neck!
The wind is SO strong that it actually knocked me and Azulo clean over when we stopped at a cafe! Very embarrassing but no damage
We spend a few days here to see the Morino Glacier and Icebergs on the lakes.
Everything again closes down for New Year (like Christmas) apparently. I haven’t seen an Irish Pub yet and am hoping NOT to have Irish stew tonight!
It was great “skyping” home tonight and seeing Merry and our friends having our annual New Year dinner which is at our place this year. I miss them all.
Happy New Year to everybody. I love your comments. thanks so much