Out of Tierra del Fuego

On January 7, 2013

Well, I’m off! After spending a total of three nights in Tierra del Fuego National Park I’m ready to begin my adventure. I’ve had time to do a lot of thinking and pondering but also plenty of time to meet new people. I decided to stay in a Refugio for the last two nights. This will allowed me to leave earlier in the morning and meet people.

On the night of the 4th I met three other people staying in the glorified shed with me. Nuvia, a Columbian who traveled by bus down the Caraterra Austral to here. She also worked in a hostel in Buenos Aires. I also met Nadia and her boyfriend Sebastiam, both physicists who are going on a trip before they’ll be apart. She is going to work in Italy and he in Uruguay. All three speak English but Nuvia took it upon herself to teach me Spanish. She would make fun of the Argentine accent and way of speaking. She made Nadia only speak to me in Spanish. It was nice because I could ask questions when I got lost. They helped me so incredibly much.

The following day (January 5) I contemplated leaving but ended up hiking. It was beautiful. It only sprinkled 3 or 4 times. I went halfway up a pretty strenuous hike but turned around because I wasn’t prepared. That night I talked with Emmanuel who hit hiked here from Mendoza. He later borrowed my bike to try to find some friends. I also met Mariepierre, a French woman moving to Chile to work. She and Nuvia then went on a walk from 11 to midnight because Nuvia was so impressed by how much light there was. As we were watching a pretty scene, they wished we had vino, cervesas, and I forgot the word for blunt. Mariepierre had to translate as Nuvia didn’t know. I was planning on going to bed early that night, but experiences are taking precedence over plans.

In the morning I woke up at 6 to hear rain… Then I woke up at 8 to more rain. I decided to pack up, since I was itching to start. All packed up at 10 and out of food, it was still raining. No sprinkles like before and no break in the clouds. This was the typical weather I missed the last two days. I went for it and rode the 20 km into town for food and more fuel. Speaking of fuel, I found 96% rubbing alcohol in the pharmacy. It just took google translate to ask my question. It’s super cheap and there are a lot of pharmacies so I’m passing up on that too expensive MSR stove for now. El Calatafe will have a stove if I really need it. It’s called alcohol etletíco.

The rain flat out sucked. My pants and jacket did the trick, but I guess water just rolled down my jacket into my gloves and down my pants into my shoes. I was able to ring out my socks and pour water out of them. I guess waterproof shoes can work backwards. Next time I’ll bring gaiters. It was also all uphill. Paso Garibaldi was conquered with no long breaks. I guess Ushuaia being pretty and surrounded by mountains should’ve given me a clue.

So after the pass of wetness and uphill and riding the white line and lake puddles and bus sneezes when they pass and wet gravel shoulders, I was soaked. And flying downhill. I took a picture of the sign at the top but didn’t bother taking a picture of the gorgeous lake at the other side. I didn’t want to lose my momentum. The rain cleared up at the base, so then I was a wet happy guy who had no water. I pull into this restaurant to find people coming out saying its closed (all in Spanish of course). I said I just wanted water and they obliged. Then out of pity because I looked like a hot mess, they said something about go to the door and they drove off. I did, and met Pablo. Who speaks no English. He showed me a fire and I got to dry my shoes, socks, jacket, and gloves. I sat pretty close to that wood oven. The restaurant was amazing. I found out he works there and isn’t related to the owners. He gave me a Fanta and then ice cream (¿Te gusta helado? Duh…) and then some fancy chocolate pie thing. We talked about everything we could. My trip, what I was doing, where I went, chicas, you name it. Okay my Spanish isn’t that good. It’s also a lot of me imagining what he’s saying based on a few words and facial expressions. It’s kinda fun to pretend what he’s saying. So yeah, good conversation. I also showed him my phone, music, and pictures I took. He’s from the province bordering Bolivia and is just working here. The place is called Villa Marina. I was going to try to make it to Tolhuin today for some pastries and a place to stay, but this is better. I just go with the flow.

I still am amazed at how many people I’ve met. I’ve never had a trip quite like this, obviously.

After making it to the famous bakery in Tolhuin, I bought US$4.40 worth of pastries. Feels good.

3 Responses to “Out of Tierra del Fuego”

  • Sounds like quite the trip so far Mark. Keep up that mantra – experiences over plans! Look forward to continually seeing how you are doing and living vicariously through your adventure. cheers!

  • Mark, People are what makes life interesting, huh? 🙂 Keep enjoying!! Glad to read your posts and the boys say, “Have a good vacation!” except at first Ben said ah-vay-shun 🙂 –Anne & all

  • Mark, estoy celosa! I am so jealous of this awesome journey you are on. Studying in Argentina to learn Spanish was definitely frustrating at times with the language barrier, but seeing you learn Spanish and explore Patagonia by bike is pretty amazing. My only advice for the language part is to be patient with it, it will come quickly and easy to you. A simple verb+noun phrase is enough for argentines to understand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: