January 07, 2007 GMT
Tierra del Fuego

Brian the Rapid Rider - Not on the Ripio

Disembarking the ferry on Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire) the weather was cold and wet, we had 116kms of ripio (dirt) to traverse before entering Argentina and her paved roads. Following Brian for a few kilometers it was not long before Piggy wanted to go faster and we wanted to wear out the rear tyre.

Lupins at Lunch Stop

The muddy road took us over wind swept plains and skirted the coastline. This, the Chilean, part of Tierra del Fuego seems uninhabited apart from disgruntled newly shorn sheep, guanacos (animal related to the llama) and a plethora of birds and water fowl.

Paso Grimaldi

Arriving at the Paso de Grimaldi the weather grew colder, the sky darker and rain began to fall as we climbed higher into this the southern end of a great mountain chain we had been following since Alaska, this is the last part of the Andes before it dips into the sea and dissapears.

End of the World

To be finally reaching 'The End of the World' was quite emotional, especialy for Jules who experienced being snowed on for the first time in here life. The road was icey and the worn rear tyre only just hung on. (Yes we were still carrying those tyres from Mendoza!)

Parque National Ushaia

Looking forward to Christmas with other viajeros we descended into the pretty bay overlooking the Beagle Chanel and headed out towards the National Park.

A big red BMW appeared around the corner of the ripio road and immediately we recognised Emma and Hamish on Bertha. The four of us went out to the National Park camping ground where Hydaki, Jason and Peter had already settled in and had a roaring fire going. Not long after that Holgar, Martina, Mary and Mathias appeared and Christmas lunch preparations were underway.

Is it cold at night here?
Mary, Martina, Emma

The chicas took charge of organising the food preparation while the chicos took charge of it's cooking. It was decided that four chooks should be cooked on a spit over hot coals with the vegies spread about below roasting on a rack.

Girls Corner

Boys Corner

We had the rack.... we needed a spit!

After many hours of scrounging we had the materials and tools to put in place what seemed to be a workable rotating spit. Fire is roaring, chooks stuffed with an onion and not so delicatly speared with the spit, and over the fire it all went.

Hydaki - Smoke gets in your eyes

The solution - Grant

It looked good, in fact it looked fantastic.... one slight problem, as soon as you tried to turn the spit the chooks... they no turn!!!

Christmas, Champagne, Tables and Abba - Bad Combination
Jules and Emma

One hour of experimentation passed where the spit was removed and fine techinial adjustments were made such as trussing the chickens, wiring the spit, securing jubilee clamps, multi grips etc.

Brian, Jules and the formidible Yamaha Fazer

In fact the combined efforts and knowledge of two engineers, one builder, one metal fabricator and a computer technician were unable to overcome the inherent problems of keeping a chook from moving on a rotating spit. Oh well, we did try!

Eventually after much champagne we borrowed some roasting forks and the chickens roasted merrily along side the vegies! The outcome was delicious!


The Gang

Bidding our mates farewell on a clear and almost warm day the scenery we missed on arrival revealed itself in all its splendid glory.

Parque National Ushaia

Tierra del Fuego

Stopping in Rio Grande it was time to change the tyres. After carrying the spares for 7,500kms (DON'T ASK WHY.... WE JUST DID.... OK!), finding a gomeria, half an hour later we had new tyres and ground clearance.

Enthusiastic Weight Reduction??

Stopping at Gracielas 'Hostal Hotel Argentino' (www.hostelargentino.com.ar) we were greeted with home made cherry brandy and steaming hot tea. Graciela's warmth and generosity made our five night stay very enjoyable. Being able to use her kitchen to cook up big pots of lamb stew for ourselves and our friends made it memorable.

Irish Stew - Patagonia Style

Lamb Dinner
L-R Mary, Mathias (behind Mary's head), Holgar, Martina, Virginia, Pee Wee, Jules

However difficult to leave this haven from the elements the north beckoned.

With 3000 kilometers between Buenas Aires and Ushaia, 4 border posts, 116 kilometres of ripio, a ferry crossing, gusting side winds and unpredictable weather we questioned our motives for this part of our journey. Had we become obsessed with 'Check Point Tourism', did we want to boast about travelling from Alaska to Usuaia, was it for the adventure or did we just want to spend Christmas with other travellers. Maybe it was a combination of all of the above but one thing was for sure, this is not the way we liked to travel.

Parque National Ushaia

Posted by Julie Rose at January 07, 2007 09:30 PM GMT

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