We lazed around in the fancy hotel in the morning – not wanting to get out of bed – and looking out the window at the rain pelting down… finally dragged our butts out and got on the bikes and underway about 10am.
Our route today took us south into Chile – and we’re entering the last fold on the map of Argentina… Once in Chile we had to make our way to a ferry and cross the Straights of Magellen onto the island of Tierra del Fuego and then across Chile and back into Argentina…
Well – the run from Rio Gallegos to the Chile border was fast and wet. – maybe an hour or so – then things ground to a halt. Checking out of Argentina took a long time – we just slogged our way thru the lines, dripping wet and leaving a water trail thru the immigration/custom lines. Finally free from Argentina we took off into no mans land for the Chilean border. These guys were only slightly faster than the Argentina guys – after leaving a trail of puddles in the border offices we were free to go and set off into Chile.
We shot down a concrete two lane road that was an awesome road surface – even in the rain we were doing 60 mph – after a short ride we came to the ferry crossing area – just as we rode up to the back of a truck, that truck rolled forward and onto the ferry and we rode right behind it and onto the ferry. I don’t think we actually fully stopped at all – good timing. The ferry deck was wet and steel – and we could see the water was rough – so we stayed down with the bikes to hold them up. Good thing because there was some rock and roll going on during the short crossing – maybe 30 minutes. We all got cooled off standing there with the wind and the rain… unfortunately we couldn’t see much during the crossing because the sides of the boat were maybe 10 feet above the deck.
The ferry hit the other side and we were about the last ones off the ferry up the slippery ramp and rolling on more good road surfaces. The good road came to an abrupt end and we found ourselves on a seriously crappy gravel/dirt road, in ice cold rain, with zillions of trucks and cars whizzing about. The potholes were all full of water and it was very difficult to gauge how deep they were or if they weren’t really potholes but former black holes now sucking the water out of the sky – and us with them if we were unfortunate enough to ride into them.
The road was crappy – and it got worse as we rode on. We had about 90 miles of this stuff to cover and it started taking its toll. Wes’ rear brake pads fell out of his bike (of course those were new maybe 1500 miles ago) – and tempers were flairing a bit.
After about 3 1/2 hours we got to the end of the gravel/mud without any casualties and we were ready to do the Chilean border drill again. This time we were frozen solid by the time we got there and soaking wet. John went to grab some money from his “100% waterproof” pocket on his jacket – only to find that it was full of water – maybe someone put the pocket together backwards at the factory? To make things just a little bit worse, somehow we had arrive at the same time as 2 HUGE busses full of touristas… and of course we got in line behind all of them – so standing there in line, dripping, getting colder…
The Chile border went pretty smooth after waiting thru the lines – then we rode about 5 miles to the Argentina border thru some deep sloppy mud that was heavily rutted by trucks. Argentina welcomed us with another wait for the busses/tourists – but they were quick once we got to the border agents. We hit the gas station across from the border offices and took off for Rio Grande to get to bed.
We had some trouble finding a place in Rio Grande – several hotels were full, some were insanely expensive, (maybe they didn’t like us dripping on their floors?). We ended up staying at a nice little hostel – Patagnoia Hotel – the night shift lady had the big old iron kitchen stove cranked up high and she helped us dry all our gear off and made us a nice cup of Argentina mate tea.
The entire process of checking out of Argentina, checking into Chile – drive for 150 miles or so – then check out of Chile and check into Argentina seems like such a waste for everyone involved – but then, you can’t argue with governments. We didn’t cover much mileage today but we covered 2 border crossings, a ferry, and 90 miles of gravel/mud road.
Tomorrow – we have a short run to Ushuaia – going south of course – maybe 135 miles…