Month: February 2018

Where the hell is Batman?

italiano

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).

Chalten

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.

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Lago del Desierto … yes it likes it quite much …

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.

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Lago del Desierto

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.

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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 gendarmeriaย … 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.

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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.

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Little river but not possible to cross it with a loaded bicycle alone

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.

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On the way to Chile

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.

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After 6 km one trail path, finally the road!

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)ย told them about me. They were really amused and wanted to see how I carryย the kitty. “Is the first time in the history of Chile that somebody is crossing here with a kitty“.

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The star

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!!

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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???

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O’Higgins Lake

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 ยฐC, 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!

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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 …

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… even the kitty was eating berries … ๐Ÿ˜€

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.

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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!

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Here the O’Higgins lake was calm

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.

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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!”ย … “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???

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Is it happy and relaxed?

Theย  ย C a t w o m a n … can you imagine? … Me not.

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The Catwoman is around on the Caretera Austral … BUT, if I’m the Catwoman … where the hell is Batman?

Un abbraccio

Catwoman & Dimitri-Robin

 

 

Can I sleep with you?

italiano

I will try to be short, but as usual it will be difficult. I’m filled with beauty that words cannot describe. I would like to tell you so many stories! … I’m really thinking to write a book … and pictures?? thousands … step by step.

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After 4 resting days in Punta Arenas I was cycling northward, direction Puerto Natales, heading to the Torres del Paine National Park. “Is it always so cold here in summer?”, the old man: “Cold?? Is quite hot this year!”.ย Still the people were like the outside temperature … a bit cold.

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The Chilean pampa is not much different from the Argentinean one: windy, desolated, flat land … BUT the colors in the morning were incredible.

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I started to feel uncomfortable. The big trucks by their passage were creating what I called “the black hole”: a vacuum was created between me and the big machine and I was literally sucked below their wheels …”s h i t !!” For a couple of time I did “dedo” (hitchhiking) … I like to ride my bicycle but I also like to be alive for doing it.

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The best roads are the closed ones … no cars!

I had a big dilemma: “Torres del Paine National Park or not?”. People that were there told me that it was amazing but expensive (too expensive), full of people and expensive overcrowded camping places … mmmm doesn’t sound a place for me.

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Toward Torres del Paine

Additionally I have a kitty … pets are not allowed in national parks. I decided to skip the park and just cycling around of it … good choise because anyway it was raining up there. We enjoyed beautiful landscapes and wonderful relaxing wild camping.

Dimitri-1In Cerro Castillo I reached the border between Chile and Argentina. At the Chilean side: “How do you travel?”, “By bicycle Sir, and I have a kitty” and I gave him the papers of Dimitri. He looked me suspicious: “Ah really?? And it is also riding its own bicycle?“.

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Torres del Paine region

At the border office they were amused and surprised … they never had something like this. In the Argentinian side they didn’t care much … I think I could even enter with a penguin there.

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I was back in the Argentinian pampa but this time with TAIL WIND!! Yuhhuuuuu!! On the famous Ruta 40 in slighty uphill I reached 42 km/h speed without pedaling … I was flying uphill… crazy wind!

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Taipe Aike … can you see the 2 cyclists?

The next destination was El Calafate … “You have to see the Perito Moreno” I had been told. And so I did.

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El Calafate

The entry to the park was quite expensive but everything was clean and well-organized.

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Moreno-1

Incredible, majestic amount of iced water …ย  Yes, they were right: I had to see the Perito Moreno. People were silent in front of that incredible giant …ย  crrrraaaaa cruuuuuuu craaaaaack! splaaaaaashhhhh! A big piece broken down in the water … people whistled and clapped their hands.

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After few days in El Calafate I was heading to El Chalten … amazing El Chalten. The small village itself was nothing special, but the surrounding was just stunning. The Fitz Roy was on my “do” list. I left Dimitri in a vet clinic so I could spent the night in the National Park.

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Fitz Roy in the distance

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Chalten region

I started the climb to the Lagos de los Tres in the afternoon … full of people. I was expecting this, therefore I decided to sleep there, at the lake.

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At about 20:00 only few people around in the distance. I was already in my sleeping bag enjoying the view and the fresh wind. Suddenly arrived a young guy:ย Can I sleep with you?” …”What!?! Sorry?”… “Can I sleep with you?“. My shelter made by rocks was really good to protect against the wind. “Ahahahah sure! There is plenty of space here!”.

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Comfortable double bed at the Lago de los Tres

Kevin, a funny, incredible and brave 17 years oldย korean guy. He is travelling alone. “Ooh, I want visit Hungpruu in Suitserland“. “Eheheh, yes, the JUNGFRAU is a quite nice place”. Kevin want to become chef de cuisine and he was suggesting me all the best restaurants between Chile and Peru. I liked his positive attitude and bright energy. Great time up there!

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Amazing and funny Kevin with happy tourist in tight.

“Kevin wake up, the sun is rising”.

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In silence we were observing that stunning spectacle. Then we started to jump around to take pictures from different perspectives. After a couple of minutes everything was finished. Woooow!

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Filled with energy, beauty and joy I descended to El Chalten … Dimitri was waiting for me. It was happy to see me and that day didn’t move from the tent. The day after we were ready to ride to the Lago del Desierto for crossing (again) the border with Chile and reach the Caretera Austral … who was imagining that this road was conducing me (us) in an incredible adventure?

Lago desierto

But I will tell you about this in the next post.

Un abbraccio

Stef & Dimitri with bicycle