As navigator in the chase truck, I am in the unique position of being the only one amongst the team who is not driving something. This gives me the opportunity to watch and photograph the vast and slowly changing landscape of South America wizz by.
The scale of the landscapes through which we pass is breathtaking. These range from the lush rolling plains south of Santiago, to the jagged peaks of the Andes at Paso Pino Hachado (Monkey Puzzle Tree Pass) where we finally managed to cross into Argentina, after finding Paso Pehuenche o del Maule blocked by snow, and later the breathtaking Torres del Paine.
Having survived white-out blizzard conditions between Zapala and Junin de Los Andes, we headed east from Esquel across what appeared on the map to be an enormous flat plain. Far from the long boring drive we had anticipated, this road took us past numerous sandstone cliffs, eroded thousands of years ago. There have been some less diverse parts of the journey, particularly the long drive south down the east coast of Argentina and the northern parts of Tierra del Fuego, but even here, subtle changes to the vegetation were visible. I also have the opportunity of looking out for wildlife, which again has varied as we have moved south. We are all now familiar with the wandering groups of guanaco, and most of us are now able to pronounce their name correctly, thanks to the help of Gerardo.
But my role as navigator is not all about gazing out the window and capturing fleeting points of interest on camera that those driving a moto or truck cannot stop to admire. I also have important duties to perform. These include safely stowing the ever increasing number of packages and bags contaning presents for families back home that won't fit on the bikes; checking the truck lights are on whenever we set off; watching carefully to see where Rosco has gone as we make our way in and out of differnt towns; catching sight of any corner man who has set off in hot persuit of other bikers who have decided to turn north for Buenos Aires, instead of south to Tierra del Fuego; keeping an eye on bikers belongings when they are refuelling themselves or their motos; keeping the windows of the truck as clean as possible, for those important 'out the window' photos; and looking out for potholes, traffic lights, speed humps and on-coming traffic when we're on the road.
This all keeps me pretty busy, and only enhances the sense of being on a great adventure.