Date: 6th March – 17th March 2013
Where: Ushuaia – Peugeot 206 (Rio Grande) – Peugeot 206 (Rio Gallegos) – Peugeot 206 (Somewhere in the pampa) – Peugeot 206 (100km from Buenos Aires) – Buenos Aires
Distance: 8324 to 8333 miles
Apologies for the cheesiness that follows, but some things just have to be written, so if we’re all sitting comfortably, we shall begin:
Before we begin this post, we want to thank everyone who has been following us so far, and encouraging us with comments (in or outside the blogging environment) and ‘liking’ our adventures. Those little bits of effort on your part have really made a difference and kept us going. We plan on keeping the blog going until we return to our house in the UK and will then hopefully finish with an internet link to a video of our adventure.
Well, Ushuaia, it all happened so suddenly. As promised in the last blog, our thoughts went something like:
We’re tired. Need somewhere to sleep.
We should eat. Need steak.
We should celebrate. Need alcohol.
We are asleep. Start to dream.
We dreamt of brilliant blue lakes, beautiful mountains, sparse deserts, lush forests, and of course the people and food we’ve had on the way. Every time thoughts drifted towards the ‘more difficult’ parts of the trip, it was all too easy to gloss over them and think instead of the friends we’ve made, stories we can tell, and skills we’ve learned.
We did little of note in Ushuaia itself, but instead took the chance to meet up with the friends still on the road: Over the next two days we shared stories and caught up with Jorge, the Bandavelo, and Emilien and Xinhan. Martine and Matthijs were there too. They all helped us complete this trip too, just knowing a friend is somewhere on the road nearby helps immensely!
For those who remember Nicaragua, yes the cigar did make it, and still in one piece! It wasn’t exactly enjoyable, but everytime it resurfaced in one of our panniers throughout the trip, the words on the side of it: ‘Not to be opened till Ushuaia’, kept reminding us of where we were going. (Link to original photo of the cigar: CLICK HERE)
We spent a day in Ushuaia exploring options for traveling North to Buenos Aires. The plane was expensive, the bus, twice as expensive. However luck was on our side. Four months ago a rather portly ex-trucker was relaxing in some hot springs just outside Pucon. We got talking and he told us that many car transporters travel down to Ushuaia full and return empty, we should enquire at the Restaurant Julio where all the truckers eat…
The following day we set off to find the restaurant, figuring it would be along the coast where all the containers seemed to be. We quickly established that Restaurant Julio was actually in Rio Grande, but that the YPF petrol stations were where the truckers congregated. On finding the YPF, we spent two hours speaking to about eight separate lorries, having positive responses from all, and two tentative offers of lifts! Megabonus!
That afternoon one of the offers became concrete, and we were on! All we had to do was get to the YPF petrol station out of town in two hours time…we rather rapidly started packing! Panic packing over, we pedaled hard, and made it just in time.
Lucas and the half-full car transporter pulled up and we gladly loaded our bikes and jumped on, and the Mega-hitch (equivalent to London to Athens) and the Mega-lie began! The side of our lorry was covered in anti-British Malvinas propaganda, so Sarah told them we were from Scotland. They had no idea where ‘Escocia’ was, so all seemed fine, and we weren’t left on the side of the road there and then. One hour later and between us we’d mentioned ‘Inglaterra’ (England) at least four times. Lucas began to look confused!
Things got even more random as the evening went on. He put on a DVD of Fatboy Slim on Brighton Beach, cue lots of drunk English people making fools of themselves! We made a conscious effort to be thankful we were from Scotland. Thankfully, we reached Rio Grande and stopped for the night. Lucas gave us a choice of room (Peugeot) 206, the (Nissan) Pathfinder suite, or the rather battered (Peugeot) 505. We chose the 206, and after the obligatory trucker food, had the first of many perfect night’s sleep.
On we went, past more and more pampa. At one point we went past a lorry crushed by the side of the road. It had been driving empty when a gust of 130kph picked it up and threw it off the road. We were really lucky with our windy experiences! Nothing else happened of much excitement, except that one night we might possibly have slept in our room 206 whilst the car transporter was moving. We justified the risk to ourselves though, by figuring we could put seat-belts on while we slept!
Finally, 86 hours later, after a diet predominently consisting of ham and cheese sandwiches with the occasional milanesa sandwich (kind of like schnitzel) thrown in for a bit of variety we arrived! Geoff promptly left a bag in the car to be retrieved in yet another Geoff and Sarah adventure! Annoyed with ourselves, we got on the motorway into Buenos Aires for 50m before being stopped (it’s illegal). The Policemen stopped a van for us though, and it took us within four blocks of our warm showers host: Virginia! Lucky to the end!
To briefly put our luck in context, the Bandavelo took eight days to hitch, changing rides four times, with the low point being when their empty car transporter was re-directed to Bariloche when 1000km from Buenos Aires! Other cyclists reading this blog…you have been warned!
We waited awhile for Virginia to return from her morning chores, but we didn’t have to wait long. She was the perfect host, and we enjoyed our time thoroughly in Buenos Aires, in big part due to the safe and comfortable space we had staying with her. Our stay is best told through photos captions of this lovely city where old meets new almost everywhere.
From here we plan on getting a bus to Paraguay and quickly cycling into Brazil to visit the Iguazu Falls. Our time in South America is coming to an end, less than two weeks to go now! Oh yes, and in case you hadn’t heard: the new Pope is from Argentina (and a Peronist apparently).