Well it’s certainly an interesting sensation to finally be pedaling through Patagonia. The land is flattening out towards the pampas as I have left the last of the high mountains behind me. Am tempted to think of this as the final leg of the journey but even a cursory glance at the map reveals that there is still quite a way to go before I find myself in Ushuaia (about 3,000km). Still best therefore to keep the minor destinations ‘chunked’ so I don’t get overwhelmed by the distances. A troubling lyric that comes frequently to mind is, ‘the last mile is the hardest mile’ (Smiths).
Yet the country to come will be interesting. From the city of Zapala, from where I write to you tonight, I will now cruise down through the Lake District of Argentina before crossing back into Chile for a bit of pedaling along the Caraterra Austral and then I cross back into Argentina to continue down towards Tierra Del Fuego. In theory this will take about another five or six weeks.
For some odd reason I decided that it would be a good idea to study early modern literature while I traveled. This was a moment of inspiration that struck, somewhere in Ecuador I think. This now means that I spend a good slice of each day while pedaling through the Argentinian countryside thinking of weird and wonderful new ways to reinterpret the witches in Macbeth. Quite an interesting departure. If all goes according to plan I will qualify for a University of Oxford T-Shirt sometime next year. All very exciting.
With each day on the road south I am adding to the huge database of fascinating insights and accumulated knowledge from this trip. For example:
– Steven Seagal movies are much better in Spanish
– If a bearing wears out on your Rohloff gear hub, you are a long way from help. Refer the photo of the bike with its Shimano XT drive train.
– Never attempt to study from distance while you are bicycle traveling. You find yourself in an endless state of worry as to whether you will find a viable internet connection in the towns down the road.
– SPAM and other related meat products are just not very good and over consumption can make you feel quite ill. (definitely not the quality of the Buffy Burger)
– It takes about a year on the road to perfect your camp pasta and sauce. Mine is now verging on the edible.
– The average touring cyclist swerves around approximately 100 cow, horse, yak, llama or bear turds on the side of the road every day. That means that on this trip I have swerved around about 30,000 turds.