I've taken the liberty of a small detour northwards before turning south again; there's a Horizons Unlimited Travellers' Meeting near Viedma next weekend, and as I missed the Mexico meet I'd like to go and maybe join up with others heading south to Ushuaia.
Talking of which, half the world is on its way there - just yesterday I met John and Olwyn from Kings Heath in their camper van at one stop, and six chaps in three 1950's Austin Healeys rumbled in as I was having a sarnie at another stop. I reckon around Christmas there'll be more foreign-registered vehicles in Ushuaia than locals. Should be a good party.
Let me explain about roads here, and how lonely they can be. Let's take a major route: imagine riding/driving up the A1 from London to Edinburgh. Around half the route is paved, some of which is pretty good and the rest dire. The rest is varying degrees of ripio ball-bearing. There may be anything up to two petrol stations, one of which adjoins a (derelict) cafe. It's possible there's a small town, but it's more likely to be some way away from the main road. Oh, and you'll see maybe 20 other vehicles during the ride. The wind is unremitting and it's almost impossible to find anywhere sheltered to stop.
When I finally escaped (again) from Coyhaique I had a wonderful send-off. Having managed to book the ferry (around seven quid all in for the two-and-a-half-hour crossing) so there was no excuse for being kept in captivity any longer, as it was a holiday on Thursday the family piled into the Nissan Patrol Shed and we barrelled down together to Puerto Ingeniero Ibaņez on Lago General Carrera (Lago Buenos Aires if you're this side of the border). While picnicking on the quayside, blow me down if Patricia and the girls and Rodrigo and Pauline arrived, also for a picnic. I reckon they were really making certain I was actually leaving this time. But it was great to have them all there waving to me as the "ferry" sailed.
Once on the other side at Chile Chico it was about 10km of ripio to the border, where formalities on both sides amounted to all of ten minutes, and the Argentinian customs chap recommended the hotel they stay at in Los Antiguos, which is at the border and Argentina's cherry capital. And the next day it was glorious virgin tarmac all the 230 miles across the pampas and through the oilfields to the deep turqoise Atlantic Ocean.
Today I'm in Trelew, although as it's Sunday everything's closed and the population go to chapel; but I should be able to get myself a Welsh tea with proper Welsh cakes this afternoon and I'll report back on how they compare with the ones Yoshi's mum makes.Posted by Cynthia Milton at December 11, 2005 02:59 PM GMT
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