Like in a movie

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I was happy to leave that part of Chile. Believe me or not but the air was heavy there, in Futaleufù … Beautiful nature and the valley is just stunning, but have you ever experienced to “feel” a bad energy in a place? Not only the energy was dark but even the weather: cold, grey and a lot of rain … I wanted to escape from there.

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Ruta de los 7 lagos

I was riding fast with a big smile on my face toward the Argentinian border. As usual I crossed in the other country without problem. I stopped in a little village to buy some bread and finally happened something that for looong time I was looking for: eye contact, big smiles and short chatting. People were polite and very friendly … I was positive, the new chapter was promising … and dulcis in fundo: the weather was great! (at least for few days).

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Ruta de los 7 lagos

I stopped in beautiful camping places, empty because the end of the tourist season. I had very interesting conversations about people, education, politics … like with Gustavo, a young gaucho, owner of more than 2000 hectares … yes 2000 …

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Ruta de los 7 lagos

I pitched my tent below an incredible 30 m high tree. I looked 360° around me. Mountains, high picks, forests, a green crystalline river, horses, cows, sheep … I was imagining Gustavo telling to his son: “Look my son, all what do you see here will be yours”. Like in a movie. Incredible.

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Lago Falkner

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Lago Falkner

Everywhere I was stopping people were curios, talkative and very friendly. Laughs from the streets, loud conversations (yes the Argentines are very loud), colors, sweet smell from the panaderias (bakery), life. It seemed that my soul was resurrecting from a long hibernation.

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Lago Falkner

After the beautiful touristic part of La Ruta de los sietes Lagos I decided to move away from the Cordillera. I was tired about rain, cold, wind … it was from Ushuaia that I had most of the time this kind of conditions! I officially abandoned my original plan: reach Colombia, or Peru … or Bolivia.

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Ruta de los 7 lagos

I was a bit sad but as I was thinking for China: those country will not move from there, or not?… at least not dramatically in the next few years … (yes, I’m a geologist). I will visit those countries in another trip. So I decided to move quickly eastwards.

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San Martin de los Andes

Reached the warm and sunny Neuquen (where I met   l o v e l y   people) I accepted the proposition of three exquisite young veterinarians I met in the 7 Lagos region few days before: a lift from Neuquen till Santa Rosa, trough the Ruta del Desierto. Let’s go! (no no, don’t tell me it’s cheating …I call it audience assistance … everyone lives, makes decisions and creates his own trip as best he likes it).

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On the way to Neuquen

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On the way to Neuquen

We had fun in the camioneta with Danisa, Guadalupe, Ezequiel, Choco the dog and of course Dimitri … packed like hell, with a dog and a cat … in the middle of a desert … so funny … like in a movie. Gracias chicos! Son  d i v i n o s!

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Crossing the Ruta del Desierto. Front: Ezequiel, Guadalupe. Back: dog Choco, Danisa, Catwoman, Dimitri

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Pampa province

I enter in the Pampa province. I was ready to have boring, monotonous, flat rides there but … cabooooom! I had so much fun. Cars, camionetas, huge trucks were respecting me in a way that I never experienced before, but most important: people were   a m a z i n g.

Left: Adriana, Lujan, Ema and Fabricio. Right: Daniel and Gustavo. Thank you my dear friends from Winifreda!

I was sure that in those little villages in the middle of the flat Pampa I would have spent only one night in each locality …well I was wrong.

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Embajador Martini

I met such lovely people … it was difficult to leave them. Simple people with a great, generous heart. They were not used to see a traveler on a bicycle. They were so surprized that in all crossed villages between Santa Rosa and Rio Cuarto I was interviewed by the local TV channels.

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Lovely Jaqueline and Carlos … it has been difficult to leave them. Gracias de todo corazon. (Am I tired??? ahahaha)

In Tosquita happened something magic …C H I L D R E N! Finally children!!! A six years old girl: “Why do you sleep in a tent in the park and you don’t go at your home?“. “Well, there is not a hotel here and my home is really very far”. Silence. Open mouth. She run away screaming to her friends: “Hey guys come here! This woman is sleeping in a tent because her house is very far!!“.  A dozen of children surrounded me. They were asking me all about my tent and the gas stove.

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Embajador Martini

In the evening came some teenager. They were curious and asked me lots of interesting questions … I told them, that as theme, I come from a very small village and that it is true that everything is possible … They brought me mate, cakes and a delicious soup. So lovely!

Almost one year has passed … I think that I don’t realize yet what I have done … I mean: I was just riding a bicycle, everybody can do that! But I had the courage to follow my instinct, my heart, my needs … and I hope that those lovely teeny from Tosquita will never forget my story.

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One year. I scroll my pictures and I see again all those incredible places and fantastic people … a sort of melancholy arise but on my face there is a big smile and my eyes are full of tears of joy. Wow!

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This year has been   f a n t a s t i c.     I n c r e d i b l e.     U n f o r g e t t a b l e.   Almost surreal. My year has been like in a movie.

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Un abbraccio

Stef & Dimitri

 

 

 

 

“Gracias hijita”

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(Very loooong post) The Caretera Austral. The Mekka of cycling tourists. I though that Pamir was busy but after few kms from Villa O’Higgins I quickly noticed that the high Tajik mountains in comparison were isolated places.

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can you see the road going up up up up….?

On the Pamir I was used to stop and have small chats with other cyclists … and here? Serious faces, a quick “hola” and they were already gone (of course a couple of funny exceptions!).Caretera-2

I was amused because most of theme were young couples … generally the gentleman pedaling in the front and behind (much behind) a very serious and exhausted partner … I had the impression they didn’t have much fun … but this was just my perception.

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Beautiful birds everywhere. Here a Woodpecker (crazy sound!)

I had the impression to be in an Equatorial jungle: rain and mystic fog. Even the type of vegetation was similar and the chirping of a bird remembered me one of the Borneo jungle … do you know when you listen a music and boooooom you are living again a specific moment? A sort of melancholy raised up … how are they doing my little friends Penan?

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Baker river

Ups and downs. The sweat was mixing with the rain … wet smelly cloths … cold head wind … Frozen hands … Frozen feet … Frozen nose … When possible I just tried to enjoy the majestic view. In the distance blue glaciers, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and forests. A sweet smell of Rosehip. From Equatorial jungles I was cycling in something that was reminding me Canada … or even my home at bigger scale.  B e a u t i f u l !

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Puerto bertrand

I always say that my trip is not about bicycle but about people … eyes contact, a generous smile and the connection is done. I scroll my pictures and almost NO ONE with people or children. Where are the children???

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Bertrand lake

Here nobody was screaming “heeellooooo!” like in Uzbekistan; women were not shaking their hands to invite me for a Ch’ai like in Georgia, Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan, no one was stopping me just to ask you if I was OK like in Iran … no smiles … no greetings … Indifference.

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View from Cerro Color property

I was a bit disappointed. A couple (more!) of occasions I was angry … angry to be treated with contempt. Completely wet and cold, doors were slamming in front of my face with any kind of stupid lie or bad comment … “What is wrong with the people here?!?” I ask once to a an incredible rude man.

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Caretera Austral from Cerro color

I was also feeling bad for Ricardo, a generous and comprehensive man who allowed me to pitch my tent below its veranda. Heavy rain like shower. He wanted me to stay at his house but I refused because the kitty. Fortunately! When his wife came back in the evening she was not angry, she was furious. “What is this??” … This??? I’m a person!! I heard theme disputing that night. The day after she didn’t look at me and she didn’t say goodbye when she left slamming the door …

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Hiking in Cerro Color property

I had mixed feelings. I could tell you many other stories  but as usual I try to be short with my posts (already long). When I was telling my experience to other travelers they were looking at me with suspicious eyes: “?? Really?? Noooo we had great experiences! We were invited at their home, they gave us food and we had fun … best people ever!” I think they were trying to tell me that I AM the problem …

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Cerro Color

Only few travelers had my same experience and in a certain way it consoled me: ok, maybe I AM NOT the problem … Probably I was just unlucky … 2 months of bad luck … or maybe what I experienced in Central Asia was so incredible that now everything appeared insignificant … mmmm no … I’m lying to myself: people with me were unfriendly and this is a fact.

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Shepard-cat in Cerro Color

Of course the situation affected my enthusiasm … the Catwoman was passive … the Catwoman was moving by inertia, by the curiosity to see what the region could offer me and by the hope that things would change…and finally somenthing happened. In a warm day I wanted to wild camp but I saw: Camping Cerro Color, Agua caliente.

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The entry of Cerro Color camping

“A shower would be nice”. I stopped. “How beautiful is this place?! Don’t you need some help here?” I joked spontaneously to Filomena and Saturnino. It didn’t pass 10 minutes and they were back: “Yes, we need help. How much do you want and how long can you stay?”. They were adorable. My soul was nourished with generosity and kindness. I stayed one week and of course I didn’t want money.

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Filomena, Juri and Amigo

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Cerro Color property … amazing

With the kitty we had a great time there: greenhouses, sheep, cows, horses, camping … we were busy in the 400 hectares property. They were very happy. “Gracias hijita” (thank you little daughter),  they said when I left the property on my loaded bicycle. They wanted me to stay one month. The apex of joy was when we fixed the water pump.

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This is how a geologist repair a pump …  with rocks of course. Temporary reparation before  fixing it properly.

After that week I was filled with food, gratitude, joy and enthusiasm … I needed it. Thank you abuelitos.

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On the way to Chile Chico

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Everytime I’m surprised … he really like it.

Another special person that warmed up my heart along the Caretera was Alisia. Little incredible woman. I had a lot of fun in the kitchen with her and Raul, the chef. She had a comedor where about 50-60 workers per day came to have lunch. Busy busy days but I had a lot of fun with them.

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Raul and Alisia

Gracias hijita, when you come back the door of my house will be open for you”. Told me Alisia and I left also Villa Ortega with my heart filled with gratitude.

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On the way to Chile Chico

I’ll also remeber the abuelita Luzmira who filled my belly with delicious guisos (stews). Also at Luzmira place I helped to fix the water pump … I still remember the big smile and light in her eyes Gracias hijita.

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On the way to Chile Chico

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On the way to Chile Chico

Honestly, if you ask me how was what I saw of the Caretera Austral I can summarize it by saying: nice … but why is it so famous I don’t know exactly. Don’t get me wrong: beautiful, but for me that I come from the swiss Alps I was more impressed when I was riding on roads like the way to Chile Chico or Futaleufù … but this is only my opinion.

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On the way to Villa Ortega

Probably my disappointment was because for me is not only about nice landscapes but also the connection with people. I’m so happy that I meet those 3 amazing women and Ricardo. They did parts of the Caretera special.

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Villa Ortega

 

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Cordero al palo

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Ñirehuao region

I declare the Chile chapter officially closed. Now it is time to cross again the border to Argentina. It is sure that in this trip I’ll not reach Bolivia, Perù or Colombia… I think I’ll ride in the north part of South America in another trip, with a lighter bicycle and probably without the kitty … Don’t worry, the adventure continue in Argentina!

Un abbraccio

Hijita Stef and shepard Dimitri

Where the hell is Batman?

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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).

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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 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.

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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) 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“.

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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 °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!

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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 … 😀

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!” … “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?

The   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?

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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!”. 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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Incredible, majestic amount of iced water …  Yes, they were right: I had to see the Perito Moreno. People were silent in front of that incredible giant …  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: 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 old 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?

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

Un abbraccio

Stef & Dimitri with bicycle

No time for tears

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Again a lot of time has passed. Some were thinking that I’m not motivated anymore to write on my blog, but the reason is another: the internet connection here is just terrible. I’ll try to resume some of the thousands things I experienced in the Tierra del Fuego.

We had a great time in Rio Grande with Graciela. I was the only tourist and I stayed there one week (sure!! no rush for me!). Red wine, cheese and a lot of laugh … with her stories I was laughing till the tears were flowing on my face … Gracias Graciela! … but no time for tears, I had to continue.

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Approaching Paso Bella Vista

I was avoiding as much as possible the Ruta 3. Very bad reputation and recently a sad accident happened. A chinese cyclist lost his life … a pensioned man who was already about 10 years on the road.

Only 79 km separated me from the chilean border … in normal conditions it would take me 1 day ride … it took me 3 exhausting days. Flat landscape, relatively good road condition BUT the wind coming from the side was slowing me down … A LOT … and the rain was not helping.

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Shelter in the Argentinian Pampa

In some parts I had to jump out from the saddle and push. I had the impression that I was pushing forever and when I checked my cyclometer … what? only 800 m???

 

In other areas I had to stop, plant my feet firmly on the ground and with all my body keep my bicycle still … here they are the 80 km/h gusts announced by the weather forecast … Gesùgiuseppemaria. The kitty was good. In its basket it’s very well protected from wind, cold and rain.

I couldn’t go forwards. I was tired and cold. I think I was looking miserable … I was feeling miserable. Nobody around. Impossible to pitch the tend. Pampa.

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Approaching the Estancia La Despedida, Argentina

Disarmed I just wanted to cry … come on! What would it change? No time for tears, keep going and push till the next Estancia (Josephine is so tough). Fortunately I always  found a shelter.

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Shelter at the Estancia La Despedida, Argentina

Finally I entered in Chile. Finally some forests. Beautiful magnificent enchanted trees. We had really very nice nights out there and a very relaxing new year eve. “Happy new year Dimitri. Enjoy your meal.”

I had almost no food anymore and even no money, so can you imagine the joy when 3 Argentinean guys stopped and offered me pizza, sopa paragualla (sort of tortilla), crackers and 1 apple: gracias chicos nunca los voy olbidar! I was almost crying for the joy … yes, exactly: no time for tears. Eat and go!

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Cameron, Chile

In Chile the doors were a bit more open when I was asking a repaired place to pitch my tent. “Why do you want to pitch your tent if I have space in my house?“. Ximena and her lovely family welcomed me warmly. Shower, food, laundry … such a lovely soul.

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Ximena’s family and happy tourist exhausted by the wind.

The next day we looked at each other in the eyes … both we were crying and wishing each other a lot of luck. Yes, because also her family, few days before, quitted everything to start a new life in Cameron. No time for tears, the way is still long.

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Bahia Inutil, Chile

Also José and Teresa didn’t hesitate to open the door when completely wet and cold I knocked at their door. Teresa. Such an enigmatic character. I’m sure: even the best actress in the world cannot interpret such a character … no no, even Maryl Streep cannot! But I’m so thankful to this woman.

They and their 30 cats never had somebody at home … I was the first one. “Teresa I don’t have money but I can work and help you for whatever”. “No se preocupe señorita” (Don’t worry Miss) and the meal was served:

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Cordero asado … delicious!

Teresa was not speaking much. We were in the kitchen drinking coffee and listening fantastic chamamé (typical latin music). “You don’t feel lonely here?”. “No, I like to be alone … and I have my 30 cats“. She was so happy when I told her I’ll never forget her super-incredible-delicious cuisine. She smiled.

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The equation is simple: no wind = rain. No rain = wind. At the Bahia Inutil (useless bay) I wanted to see the penguins … yes, incredible expensive. A tourist-trap, BUT when will I see free pinguins again? …why they chose that place? The most exposed to the wind. Bahia-Inutil-2

Even the cat was getting crazy with the wind. I tried to find nice and quite places for our breaks. Like that day at the beach. Suddenly it assumed a position like this:

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What is wrong? Nooooooooo a seal! A curious seal at about 20 m from us … so incredible. Probably it will see never again a cat. It swimmed away.

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The Patagonian island was almost done. I was happy. Don’t get me wrong: beautiful landscapes BUT the wind ruined a bit the party. For the first time I was really really tired.

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Estancia La Fortuna

Again I can say: I did it. It was not easy. I think that the Tierra del Fuego was the most difficult part of my trip till now. I did it. Another experience that I will never forget.

In difficult time just keep going … everything is temporary.

With a boat we left the island and we arrived in Punta Arenas (Cile). Some rest and back on the saddle … the adventure continues … and the wind too!

Un abbraccio

Stef, Dimitri and few tears

 

 

 

Mary Poppins

italiano

No news = good news. Yes, a looong silence from my side but I was enjoying 3 weeks in Buenos Aires with my family. Asados, empanadas, dulce de leche, choripan, churros, milanesas, facturitas … and a lot of LOVE. I had such a great time. If the “goodbye” part has always been difficult for me, can you imagine when it is about family ?… Gracias por todo los quiero mucho!

familyBuenos Aires changed a lot in comparison to 10 years ago. I had the impression the country is growing up and evolving well … but all the enthusiasm vanished at few kilometers from the downtown … how can people reduce a river in these conditions? How can people live like this? … frustration, angry, impotence … “Don’t jump out of the car, if they think you are a reporter they will beat you or rob you“, said my cousin. Maybe he was exaggerating but who knows? …

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A river … there is still hope?

Yes, el argentino is a bit exaggerate sometimes, loud, a bit vulgar but very kind and funny … In Argentina there are not people, there are characters that can be easily an inspiration for TV comedies.

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La Plata

I had to find a solution to carry the kitty on the bicycle … not easy as it would be in Europe or USA. I found only a temporary solution. “Everything will be fine” I was repeating to myself. Vaccinations, passport, flight ticket and we are on a plane directed to “la fin del mundo“. At the very nice Ushuaia’s airport I unpacked all my stuff and I loaded my bicycle … should I keep the cat at the leash? Not really … it was/is always on my side.

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Ushuaia airport: preparing the bicycle

I was feeling so heavy! I was heavy  (I eat soooo much!), the bicycle was heavy and also my sense of responsibility was heavy.

The sun was high, fresh clean air, smell of algae, light rustling of the waves and screaming seagulls circling above my head. An amphitheater of snowy mountains and a group of houses that remind me of Icelandic houses … how wonderful is it?

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Ushuaia

Because the high (super high) prices in the city I decided to stay in a camping place at about 10 km from the center. After 3 weeks in the capital it was so relaxing to stay few days in a wild forest. I was feeling like in an enchanted place: the perfumes of the forest, the clear river and wild horses.

Ushuaia-4Is there that I decided to trust my cat. No leash. Pure freedom. It was exploring around, sometimes I didn’t know where it was but when I was calling it, it was running toward me. I was feeling more relaxed … I think both.

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Dimitri

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Cuddles at Lake Fagnano

How was I feeling? I don’t know. Everything was so weird. I should be in China! … but I’m at the other side of the world … I’m at the end of the world … with a cat. Honestly? I was a bit worry. It will not be as before. I will not be free as before. It will be more complicate: hotels, guest houses, food, money, time on the bicycle, pee, poop … I am a mother now!

Tohluin-4Finally in Tolhuin I found a box (thanks Roberto you are great!!) where Dimitri was much more comfortable. The first riding day went really smooth. The second riding day went smooth as well. The third riding day went smooth … Ehi! It works! It works!

During the ride it is sleeping and in the evenings is playing around, climbing trees, discovering rivers, tasting salty sea water and spending hours trying to fight birds, which incredibly make alliances between them and attack the kitty! During the nights it sleeps like a baby with me in the sleeping bag.

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During the ride

My days are different now. The little cat change my way of traveling. I changed all my plan for a kitty … for a kitty! My sister asks me if I was really ME. Sure I cannot do many km per day as before, I have to stop more frequently but it is ok, I’m not in hurry … The plan is to reach Colombia. If I can reach Peru I’ll be very happy as well … It is not about distances, kilometers, time … As I always say: it is about intensity.

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Puerto Almanza

And the Tierra del Fuego, the real Patagonia, is really intense. Central Asia was about people, smiles, children, open doors, hospitality … here it is about NATURE. Wild, incredible, amazing Nature.

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Puerto Almanza

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Ruta 9 to Rio Grande

Kilometers without meeting nobody. Wonderful forests. Guanacos, foxes and many types of birds. Desolated pampa and, yes, a lot of wind. THE wind. It is so strong that the weather is changing every 5-10-20 minutes. In one day you can experience sun, rain and snow… sometimes all of theme at the same time.

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wild camping

Rio Grande-2I’m moving slowly toward north. I’m really enjoying the beauty of the landscape and I’m trying to not get crazy because the wind.

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Lago Fagnano

Now I’m enjoying some time and vino tinto in Rio Grande in the Casa Azul de Graciela, a wonder woman with an incredible personality. When I entered in her home I had a red face from the sun and my hair ruffled … it was clear that I had suffered a bit the wind (it was crazy!!). Graciela asks me: “Are you feeling like Mary Poppins?” … I think yes … I was feeling like Mary Poppins, or more like in the flying nanny scene.

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Wish you  Marry Christmas and a great start in the new year.

Un abbraccio

Stefi & Dimitri

La donna non è mobile

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After the Pamir and the adventurous experience at the Peak Lenin base camp I really needed rest and nutritive food … I could feel my ribs and in my dark tights I was looking like a spider.

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Sary Mogol

It is in Sary Mogol that I decide to stop for a couple of day. I couldn’t wait one minute anymore and I entered in the first restaurant in the village.

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Green – peace

I went in the kitchen to ask if it was possible to eat. I knew it. I knew very well the risk I was taking. The condition of the kitchen was a disaster, but believe me that at that moment I didn’t care at all. When I eat the first piece of this:

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The crime weapon

in my mouth happened this:fuochiA celebration for my gourmet papillae, an explosion of flavors! So delicious …

… one of the worst diarrhoea I ever had.

I needed a pharmacy, a room with private bathroom and “clean” food … I needed to reach Osh. Why I didn’t took a taxi? Because it was impossible for me stay happily sitten for hours. At least by bicycle I could stop when and where I wanted in case of emergency … every 10 km there was an emergency.

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No trees, no rocks … difficult to find a place for my emergencies …

I was literally lying on my bicycle with terrible cramps. I had just to move a single muscle to fill my pants … D o   n o t   m o v e! … La donna NON è mobile (the woman is NOT fickle) would had Pavarotti sing… I told you that the way to Osh was memorable! Yes, cyclingtouring is also this.

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The way to Osh

Despite the inconvenient I was trying to enjoy the beautiful landscapes, the wildness, the prairies surrounded by colorful mountain. Horses, sheep, cows everywhere and the lovely hospitality of kyrgyz people who always traited me as a queen.

Finally in Osh I gain strength and weight! I was a habitué at the magazine and at the restaurant near the hotel. Thanks to me they will go on vacation to Barbados for Christmas this year.

I was ready to continue my journey when … TRACK! I twisted Elvis, my ankle, at the Sulayman mountain when I was admiring the view of the city. Why Elvis? Because I can do this:

I had no choice: not moving for at least one week … la donna NON è mobile. After the two weeks in Osh my legs were rigid and heavy … the first two days of pedaling were a hassle.

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Yes, my legs were tired, but my soul and enthusiasm not! Kyrgyzstan is a  b e a u t i f u l  country and the autumn colors gave me the impression to ride in an endless postcard. Pura vida!

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Toktogul Reservoir

I’ve been riding between hills and cypresses. I entered in coniferous woods, climbed snowy passes, visited arid canyons, cycled along beautiful green rivers and deep blue lakes … perfume of sweet apples, fresh air on my face … wow! And I just saw very little of what the country offers.

Unfortunately there is a sad phenomenon: the alcoholism. Plenty of men with purple faces and uncertain gait, bodies lying on the floor like puppets after a show and saturated alcoholic breaths perceptible at meters of distance … “There is not job, so they drink“, I have been told.

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Descent from Alabal Pass

Actually I see a lot of work … like for example cleaning the streets from all the litter that they thrown out of the car window. Unfortunately it is not so easy and, again, the feeling of frustration and impotence is strong.

23-kyrgyzstanThe problem is that these persons jump in their car and drive … I’ve seen some places where there have been accidents … shattered cars like Chinese vases … and for sure shattered life, families and beloved ones.

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Ancient tombs

The slowness of the bicycle allows you to be more attentive to what surrounds you. You travel in wonderful places, but you also perceive the issues of the people, of the places. I assisted at marvelous scenes full of love, but also facts that left me angry and a sense of frustration for a while.

P1450087Six months. If I think about what I’ve experienced, the people I’ve met, the ones that helped me, the incovenients, the choices to take, the difficult situations, the laughter, the tears … wow! All so intense. If you ask me if I miss something of my old life … Well the answer for now is NO.

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Toktogul reservoir

And now? The initial plan was fairly clear: after Kyrgyzstan I would enter in Kazakhstan and then go to China … but have I told you that often I follow my heart and instinct?
This meeting:

kittymade me consider other destinations (issues for importation rules of animals) and … hey, but why didn’t I think about it before!?
I try to keep the cat and cycling from Patagonia up to Peru (or up to Colombia?). Yes, I know, I’m crazy! Yuuuhuuu!! I’m super excited and looking forward for the next adventure.

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Kyrgyzstan i will come back …it is a promise

Now I’m in Karakol preparing all the bagages an packing Bicio. I will fly from Bishkek to Buenos Aires the 10th of November. Hasta luego!

Un abbraccio

Stef & Kitty

p.s. soon new pictures in the gallery