Early in the morning, full of gratitude to Pachamama (Mother Earth) I left El Chalten. I was heading to an adventure that many cyclists before me have done: the border crossing between Lago del Desierto (Argentina) and Lago O’Higgins (Chile).
Beautiful weather; windy as usual … “I love the wind! I prefer the wind that the rain … can I offer you a ‘sanwdichito de milanesa’?” Fiona, the lovely young and charismatic sailor is making gymnastic while waiting the boat to cross the Lago del Desierto. Her colored pink hair waved in the wind.
When the boat arrived the commander was clear: “Today we don’t cross the lake … the wind is too bad“. Fiona told me that in the past maybe it happens once that they couldn’t navigate … yes, lucky me, but I think everything has a sense.
It rained that night. The day after I woke up in a lake … lot of water in my tent and still I don’t know why. Tent completely wet, mattress wet, sleeping bag humid, my shoes get wet in few minutes … so cold.
The beautiful view was behind the clouds. At 12:00 we were at the Argentinian border office on the other side of the lake: “Sir, I’m completely wet and cold, can I stay in a dry place to warm me up?”. “Sure, out there, below that roof” the serious gendarme.
It was an open hut for a boat … cold, windy but yes, at least dry. I was hoping that maybe I could stay in the warm gendarmeria … but, not … again, I was a bit disappointed about the “humanity” in these parts. At 15:00 the weather was sunny again. Let’s go, the way is hard.
6 km to reach the border line between the 2 countries; 22 km to reach the Chilean border office. 6 km. I did 6 km in 5 hours. Exhausting 5 hours.
Take out the luggage, push for some meters, go back to catch the luggage and repeat. In addition few crossing little rivers and a muddy part.
I have been told that in that passage you can meet many cyclists and so you can help each other to cross this difficult part … NOBODY around.
I did it. Alone. With kitty. After the 6 horrible km I had still 16 km ride to the border check point Candelario Mancilla. At 22:00 I knocked in the Chilean border office. “Finally the girl with the cat!“. They were waiting for me, some mochilleros (backpackers) told them about me. They were really amused and wanted to see how I carry the kitty. “Is the first time in the history of Chile that somebody is crossing here with a kitty“.
“We have a bad news: no boats to Villa O’Higgins for at least 4 days, but no worry, you can stay in the camping at about 1 km uphill from here“… Outside was completely dark. Noooo still 1 km! Uphill! I was exhausted … Again, chilean people showed me more “humanity”: “We have an empty house, you can stay there till the departure of the boat, if you want“. Alleluya!!
Many of you, as many who were in that camping, would think: “Eheheh, sure you are a woman! Sure they invite only women there!“. To these persons I simply reply: YES, and so what???
As a woman I always have to be careful how I behave or what I said in order to avoid misunderstanding, I have to hear any kind of disgusting “appreciation” or insult, I had to cover my head, legs and arms at 46 °C, I had to seat on the back in some public transportations, I had to queue in “special” lines, I have to check twice (or more) where I pitch my tent, and, and, and … So, if somebody offer me some kind help, I accept it. There is a problem with this?? … no, I’m not a feminist!
I had food enough for the 4 nights, but when the nights became 5 because the bad wind conditions for sailing, I was (WE WERE) on trouble. Me and other people of the camping went in the forest catching berries, some exchanged their tent for meat (yes, the owner of that camping is a terrible person) … it was like in those reality shows “survivors” or similar …
I was lucky. I had my space, my tranquility, my peace. Despite the inconvenient with the food, me and Dimitri we had a good relaxing time there.
After 6 days of waiting we finally embarked on the 16-seater boat … Ultra-tombal verses … My kitty was feeling really bad. How to blame it? The little boat was shaking as never I had experienced before. It was like to be in the middle of the Atlantic during a storm … but the sun was shining and we were on a lake!
The wind was not sooo strong, but the waves were so high! 3 endless hours trip and finally we arrived in Villa O’Higgins, where officially starts the famous Caretera Austral.
There I met many … many many cyclists. “Finally we meet you!! We have heard a lot about you! You are famous, do you know?” … What?? … “Yes, we even were looking for you in El Calafate at that camping place but you weren’t there! The first tent to the left, right?” … “Aaaah here you are!! Soo cool! Carla come! Here she is! The 3 swiss guys told us about you!” … “To us were the australian couple!“… 3 swiss guys?? Australian couple?? I don’t know them … “Really? But they know abou you! … you are known as the CATWOMAN” ….WHAT???? Are you kidding me???
The C a t w o m a n … can you imagine? … Me not.
The Catwoman is around on the Caretera Austral … BUT, if I’m the Catwoman … where the hell is Batman?
Catwoman & Dimitri-Robin