Tierra del Fuego
(November 14th 2015)
Once we arrived at Ushuaia, we had to make the inventory of the damage caused by the transportation: a bent wheel, a broken deflector, etc... After the reparations and a few grocery shopping, we are finaly ready to start our long ride north.
We weren't expecting such a warm welcome: locals as well as tourist ask us questions and take pictures of us. Cars and trucks honk their horn at us and we can see their thumbs up through the windshields.
In Tierra del Fuego, we face a new climat: it is cold, the wind is strong and the weather unstable. On this first day in Ushuaia, with the weariness of travelling and the impossibility to turn on the stove, we go to bed on empty stomachs and without putting away the material. It is cold and the first nigths camping are dificult. At dawn on the first day riding, we find out that some birds, crested caracaras, have attacked our camp: a bag of rice, tomato sauce, a water pouch and a plastic cup have not resisted to their pecking.
The Ruta 3 is the only significant road that goes trhough the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego. This national road is over 3000km long and connects Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. The first differences in elevation arrive soon after Ushuaia. A first ascent to test us and then a big descent to Lago Escondido (hidden lake) to savour. We had no experience and we are now building it. We ride! It is possible ! We are making progress!
We also meet our limits: our knees. The pain is present each day, each kilometer, on each pedal stroke. At the end of the second day, we arrive to Tolhuin, a village between Ushaia and Rio Grande. It's here that we find out for the first time, the great south american hospitality to cyclists. Behind the village's panederia (a big bakery) there is a space designated to accomodate passing cyclotourists.
Sebastian, a german cyclists stopped there height months ago and now works there. He takes us in and introduces us to Resa and Laura, two medical doctors from Scotland that are travelling from South to North of the continent. We spend one day resting there before continuing to Rio Grande.
We continue with our bags full of empanadas offered by the Panederia La Union. We are now at the heart of the big island of the terra del fuego: big pampas, a few guanacos and a lot of wind. Our recumbent trikes are less resisitant to the wind than traditional bycicles and are more stable. But the strong winds force us to use the smaller gears even when descending. We are going north, facing the wind.
It is also the occasion the ride the first kilometer of south américan road: the ripio. The trikes are not really adapted to this king of road, but they go through. It is also on ripio that we face our first disappointment: the boarder to Chili that we wanted to pass in the middle of the big island is closed until December. We go back to Rio Grande with the wind on our backs.
In a few ours we cover the same distance we had spent two days covering.
in Rio Grande, we contacted Sergio, that was kind enough to welcome us in his home. There we meet other travellers. Rodolphe, a belgian Hitch-hiker and the girls from Avasoye (http://avasoye.com/) Laurine and Noëlle, who are also travelling north in a Volkwagen Combi.
We are aming at a boarder further north, next to the San Sebastian bay. The wind, still very strong, forces us to travel one behind the other, and every kilometer we change places. Sometimes on the small gear even in descending grounds. This land might be flat, riding on it northwards proves difficult.
The boarder in San Sebastian is surprising, as if neither Argentinians nor Chilians had wanted to develop this space. We don't want to stay here any longer, a new country awaits us: Chili.