After we said good bye to Michael and Anja we returned to Puerto Natales to stay again at Loreto Belen Hostal to enjoy another night in a nice place with a good breakfast.
Sunday Febr. 5th we rode to Punta Arenas, the biggest town in Southern Patagonia and found a nice not too expensive Hostal Independencia with a super breakfast. At check in the owner told us that there is no ferry service to Porvenir on Mondays – what a bummer, so we stayed for two nights.
Which gave us time to explore Punta Arenas a bit. Today Punta Arenas is a confluence of the ruddy and the grand, witnessed in the elaborate wool-boom mansions, the thriving petroleum industry and its port status. Punta Arenas is also well visited by cruise ships. The economy took off in the last quarter of the 19th century after the purchase of 300 sheep from the Falkland Islands. It caused the proliferation of sheep farming and created some of the biggest sheep farms or Estancias in the world.
We visited the Cementerio Municipal which contains a mix of humble immigrants graves and extravagant tombs under topiary cypresses. Fancy tombs from wool barons and graves from Anglo, German, Scandinavian and Yugoslav immigrants telling the stories for the region.
The Museo Regional Salesiano has a nice collection of ethnographic artifacts, materials on the indigenous groups that used to live in the area and information of flora and fauna of the area.
Next morning we left early to get a spot on the ferry to Porvenir with a sail time of two and a half hours to cross the Maggelan straits. Again we met travelers on motorcycles that we met before. Alex and Isi (from Gemany on an African Twin) and Thomas from Munich on a BMW. We stayed together on the ferry and rode together all day till we arrived at Hospedaje Argentina in Rio Grande.
As soon as we left the ferry in Porvenir the wind got up and reached a ferocious speed. We always expected that kind of wind, but up to this point we got lucky, well not on that day. We really had to fight hard to avoid getting pushed into oncoming traffic. The wind from the side was really bad. At times we had the wind on the back and since it was gravel road you get hit by the gravel you stir up, coming from behind and hitting the helmet – what force of wind – hey it is Patagonia after all.
We took a break a little south of the highway near Onaisin to visit a small colony of King Penguins, the only one outside the Antarctica. They used to breed at that spot but then disappeared. Only six years ago they returned and are now gaining in strength. There were about 80 Penguins and some of them had little chicks. To see them at the research station was really cool. But the wind, man oh man, I don’t know how the penguins can stand in that kind of wind all day – amazing.
After 100 km of gravel road we reached the Argentinian Border again at San Sebastian. Feli was struggling with the wind and felt like crap, but we had to reach Rio Grande to find accommodation. After we reached the Hospedaje Feli went straight to bed with a bad cold and maybe some fever. Needless to say that our goal of reaching Ushuaia the next day was out of reach. We stayed another night while Alex, Isi and Thomas rode on to the south.
While Feli stayed in bed all day, it gave me time to do some work on the bikes. Another sub-frame bolt was broken on Feli’s bike and I had to find a place to get the stuck part of the bolt drilled out. After a short search I found an auto mechanic. In an attempt to drill it out his drill went bust but luckily he found another drill and he finished the job. I must say I have better tools at home but they work with what they got here and in the end it all worked out. The guy was so nice and he absolutely refused to get paid – that is amazing. People who don’t have a lot always give the most. That act of kindness really made my day.
Hopefully tomorrow we can reach our main goal for the trip – from Ontario to Inuvik (the most northern Town in Canada to reach by motorcycle) to the most southern town of Ushuaia in Tierra Del Fuego. This town is the fulfilling of our long held yearning. Everything from then on is extra. It has been an amazing trip and we have no regrets what so ever. We rode 46 000 km and saw amazing countries and received nothing but kindness and the trip gave us new perspectives in life. I am so proud of Feli. For just making the license five years ago that is very special.
Our relation ship is still strong and believe me it was tested at time. It was the ultimate relation ship test – still going strong, and I love my wife, the same time longing to see our kids again in the not so distant future.
Well today we finally made it on February 12th. We reached Ushuaia after we spend three days sick and in bed in Rio Grande, which is just 220 km from Ushuaia. It was almost like there was a force that tried us not to reach Ushuaia. We rode through flat grassland with nothing but sheep, cattle and guanacos. And then the landscape changed again to dense forests covered in moss and finally you could see snow covered mountains again. But we were in no mood to enjoy the surroundings – we just felt like crap.
After the obligatory picture taking we walked a little bit through the city. But we are both so exhausted and are hacking and coughing all the time. It is time to go to bed again and hopefully we can celebrate a little tomorrow. Right now none of us feel like eating or drinking anything.