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Published: January 26th 2010
From Ushuaia its 2000 miles back up to Buenos Aires. However, before heading north there is important business to attend to - yes we started at the top of the world with a skinny dip in the Arctic Ocean so very early one exceedingly cold morning, with a temperature of 2C and snow falling, a few of us headed back out to the end of the road and had a quick dip at Lapataia Bay before the tourist buses arrived. Despite being well north of the antarctic circle the water was much much colder than the Arctic Ocean all those months ago.
Now we should be heading north but when have we ever done what we are supposed to? We do leave Ushuaia heading north but then we divert off to Harberton, an historic estancia on the Beagle channel at the end of a gravel track or Provincial Route J as its known. Its a wonderful ride. Heading south we have passed roadside Fuegan forests but here we are actually in amongst the forest with the gnarled trees arching over us in the most amazing shapes. And the colours are an amazing blaze of purple/bronze/red At the end of the
road in one of the most historic parts of the estancia, with sea views, there's a cute little tea shop with large slices of cake and information boards giving details on the family history since their emigration from the UK in 1886 - so that's both Edwin and I happy! What's more the GPS shows that we are actually 1.15 miles further south than we were at the end of the road!!!
Now we really do head north and what a strange feeling it is. It really feels like there is something wrong with the bike, the brain is shouting at you saying something is not right. Then you realise that for the last few weeks we have been leaning into a wind coming from our right, now we are learning into a wind from our left and the brain keeps saying this is wrong. We retrace our steps across Tierra del Fuego and the Straights of Magellan to the mainland (which requires 2 more border crossings between Chile & Argentina) then stick on Ruta 3 north along the east coast of Argentina for 2000 miles. Initially its the flat, barren, patagonian landscape with the usual guanaco and rheas.
post dip glow
2 degrees C feels warm after being in that water
The towns are few and far between but given their location, looking out to the Atlantic, they all have enormous “Las Malvinas son Argentinas” monuments. The winds are unbelievably strong - I get off the bike at one point to take some photos and Edwin is struggling to hold the bike upright. Getting back on without unbalancing the bike is really tricky.
We are in Welsh territory. This is where the Welsh arrived in1865 to escape cultural and religious repression. Rio Gallagos has a few pretty little pioneer tin houses scattered amongst the modern homes and a pink tin church on the main square. Inside the oldest house it has that 'going to your granny's for Sunday tea' feeling. At the British Club we bump into Colin (71), a 3rd generation brit whose grandfather was one of the original settlers in 1870, who invites us into the members bar to sit and listen to his stories of the how his grandfather and 30 other families settled the area - fascinating. The Falklands conflict posed a bit of a problem but it was amicably settled when members of the British Club signed a letter saying they would not interfere and
the province's governor countersigned to say they would take no action against them - so life carried on as normal.
Gaiman is full of Casas de Te providing afternoon tea. In the pioneer museum in Trelew we bump into a Tehuelche chap, they are the indigenous people in this area and they welcomed the Welsh and helped them adapt to the harsh local environment, so we got to hear the stories from his side too. Finally in Puerto Madryn is the site where the Mimosa landed and the first 153 Welsh emigrants lived in caves on the sea-shore.
Other distractions en-route included the 500,000 magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo - very cute they just stand looking at you quizzically and when they are bored waddle off back to their burrow, they don't seem the least bit worried by all these strange humans wandering round. And then there was the palaeontological museum in Trelew with fossilised dinosaur eggs which I found very exciting All sorts of dinosaur fossils and footprints are scattered over this area, including the 95 million year old argentosaurus one of world largest dinosaurs, so it another place I will have to come back to.
we head further north we leave patagonia and head into the pampa seca (dry pampa) which is almost desert like with sand blowing across the road. Then suddenly there are large green trees everywhere and we are in the true pampa grasslands complete with cattle estancias and gauchos. In Chile and Patagonia we passed all the Difunta Corera shrines surrounded by water bottles, here in the Pampa they are replaced by red shrines surrounded by dozens of red flags - they are Gauichito Gill shrines, he was a sort of Robin Hood Gaucho and now his road side shrines help travellers.
As we approach Buenos Aires we get to sweep through one final set of mountains, the Sierra de la Ventana, complete with a sea of bright yellow road-side gorse bushes. Then its 400 miles straight into the capital on a rainy day - sort of appropriate as we left Anchorage on a rainy day. And we do head straight into the capital down Avenida 9th de Julio to the obelisk, this is allegedly the widest road in the world - we counted 8 lanes in each direction. And that's it, round the corner, down the steep slope into
the car park and we have made it. After 23,193 miles we have arrived safely in Buenos Aires, another stage of the journey is complete.
There's cold beers waiting for us and lots more hugs and celebrations including a very slick tango show - well we are in the home of the tango. The bars here and in Chile have an interesting way of serving spirits; the waiter brings the bottle, the glass and the measure to the table on his tray. The measure is filed and tipped into the glass with a lot of showmanship, then an exceedingly generous measure is tipped from the bottle directly into the glass. Its always the same no matter what spirit is involved - never before have I had a ¼ pint of Baileys!!
Now we have to send the bike back to the UK - after a morning spent with lawyers signing forms and handing over power of attorney to the shipping agent she was driven a few miles down to the docks and left in a warehouse. Hopefully we will see her again in 6-8 weeks in the UK. With the bikes gone the rest of the team now
the orginal house - now the tea rooms
starts to depart over the next day and a half. The last 3 to leave were Andy and us - right from the start the 3 of us have always been the last ones to role in every night so it seem fitting that we are the last ones to head out of Buenos Aires onto our next journey.
Tot: 3.093s; Tpl: 0.068s; cc: 22; qc: 77; dbt: 0.0676s; 3; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.5mb