Thursday, 14 January 2010

Viento Puta

That was one of the phrases Jaun taught me that's not supposed to be used in polite company. It's 270km from Peurto Natales to El Calafate, and in the interests of easing Ja back in slowly, we allowed for 5 days food, hoping it might not take that long. It did. They say there's nothing better than cycling along with the wind behind you. We wouldn't know, as for the first 3 days we had nothing but a 40k/h headwind to cycle into.
Without wanting to go on about it too much again, it really is quite soul destroying. At one point we lost 600meters of height over about 2 kilometers – what should have been a lovely quick drop into a valley, largely in the hands of gravity. Not so; it was an 8k/h grind in the lowest gear, fighting not to be pushed backwards! On a number of occasions it was so bad I could barely even push the bike, let alone cycle it. I spent most of the time desperately wishing that the wind would change direction, but with a niggling trepidation that if it did that saying my mum always used might come true, and my face would be stuck forevermore in a horrible fixed grimace. Anyway, then something wonderful happened. (and it isn't true – if the wind changes your face doesn't stick like that). Halfway through a particularly grim and slow morning the wind suddenly seemed to be be making less noise, then gradually without even properly realising it we were suddenly flying along at between 30-50k/h!! It was a most bizarre experience – the wind must have been gusting around 30k/h, as at this speed it was almost completely silent to cycle – we could talk to each other as if we were standing still; it was almost like being in a silent movie. After a horribly slow morning we managed to finish the day covering just shy of 100k, with an enormous grin on our faces, and remembering that it can be fun after all!

Our thoughts that some of the landscape we were cycling through was a little bleak were confirmed when we happened to get chatting to the owner of the Estancia we were cycling through, and he told us he farms 60 000 hectares of land (600km2), but that the land is so barren it takes 3 hectares to support 1 sheep!!

One piece of good news was that the border crossing back into Argentina was far easier than it had been into Chile - they didn't even check for offensive weapons, let alone seem to be worrying about any offensive vegetables we might be carrying! We finally limped into El Calafate yesterday, and plan to take a couple of days off (mostly just to eat, sleep and enjoy the sensation of finally being clean again!!), before cycling out to the Parc Nacional los Glacieares to see the dynamic Perito Moreno Glacier, around 80 windy km's west of here. We'll update again on our return.

1 comment:

  1. Jenny,

    great stories on your Blog. I love the descriptions - having been there and done that I can literally feel being blown away by the impossibly strong winds and share the frustrations of not getting anywhere fast into the wind. Also great photos. Looking forward to your next Blog posts.

    And please say Hi to Ja, proof positive that there are nerds out there even more attached to their computer than I am!

    Cheers, Thomas.

    Panamerican Peaks Project