Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday. Puerto natales ahoy!

Map of route

A slightly more relaxed morning saw us set off around 8. We had two hours of great riding, reasonable ripio nice terrain good scenery and NO WIND!! We saw several oxbow lakes with flamingos, several more gaggles of emus (which Emma has now identified as Rheas), many horses and sheep, and several as yet unidentified birds. We spun through 20 miles in good time, but then as we started to hit what must be foothills of the Andes we started to feel the aftereffects of all the effort battling the wind the previous day. As if to gloat the matter, it was around this time that the wind started to return for the day. So proceed the now familiar pattern of gradually diminishing progress, this time increased by a general lack of energy. It seemed the effects of 3 days on dehydrated carbs (and cheese), with no meat or veg, had taken its toll. But we would soon be half way through the remaining distance to our destination, which held the promise of shops selling food, which drew us on. Sporadic sections of tarmac lured us to believe of easy riding to come, but as we reached El turbio, just short of the border energy got so low we resorted to glucose tablets. We knew once we hit them our bodies wouldn't have much interest in burning anything else, so it was just going to have to be a case of rationing them to see us through. There was a small climb up to the boarding crossing, and with the formalities down to leave Argentina and then enter Chile (after 3k of no man's land) we were in a new country! The Argentine guard had kindly refilled our bottles so with that to aid us we just had to battle our way down the Chilean paved road to reach the town. It's quite something when a fully loaded Dobbin cannot just freewheel down smooth road but we did find a couple descents with sufficient grade to allow us to gather some momentum. Then it's just a case of holding on tight as the wind does all it can to redirect you! Momentum greatly helps you here though. In Puerto Natales we headed to the Patagonian Adventure hostel we'd eyed up that morning, and an extremely friendly guy happily found us a double room for two nights, rearranging other bookings to enable this, and a room for Dobbin too. The showers are hot and the wifi is fast, so we're pretty happy to chill out here for a day, to restock and recover before our next adventure! Just as well, as it looks like we may be here a couple days as a regional strike has cranked up and the road north is apparently blockaded. Ah well, there are definitely worse places to be stranded!