After almost a year of traveling (11 days shy of one year exactly), we finally arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina. It was so amazing that it was hard for me to even put into words the feelings that I experienced. The couple weeks prior to arriving in Ushuaia, the days were long, the roads numbingly straight and the winds horrendous.
While in Ushuaia, we went on a boat tour of some of the surrounding islands. Milton took a fly fishing trip and I did a local tour around town on one of their double decker buses.
During the past year I’ve had one broken foot, we’ve had three stolen motorcycles, one stolen passport, our riding partner leaving and returning to the states after only two months on the road, numerous falls as I mastered the art of riding off-road over amazing mountain passes with switch back after switch back, countless tears as I struggled through fears that I was being pushed to ride beyond my ability, and immense pride when I realized that, even through I may have fallen a few times, (okay maybe more than a few) I got back on my bike and continued to ride.
We’ve also had meltdowns at the side of a few roads, screaming in frustration into the wind a few times, and made some amazing friends along the way, and our faith in humanity is stronger now than ever before.
For the past month, our bikes seem to being telling us that it’s getting time to go home. We’ve put a lot of miles on them, over 35,000 km in fact, we’ve ridden them hard, and they are starting to wear out. My shock has blown, my clutch is wearing out and beginning to slip, and my battery is getting weaker and weaker to the point that now everytime I turn if off I wonder if it will start again. Milton’s bike already had a radiator leak repaired, his carburetor repaired, his clutch replaced, electrical issues repaired, and now his shock is giving out also. We are debating whether it is even worth it to send our bikes back to the states.
Since leaving Ushuaia, we spent four days stuck in Rio Grande due to bike issues. But, during this four day period the winds got up to 137km/hr so it was a good time to be stuck. After finally leaving Rio Grande we headed out towards El Calafate. The winds blew so hard that it became dangerous and so we stopped and spent the night in Esperenza which I am pretty such exists solely to give travelers a play to stay when the wind blows too hard. The next day, while riding to El Calafate, discovered my shock leaking again which made for a fun bumpy ride in.
Once in El Calafate, we stayed for two days and went on an amazing catamaran tour of the glaciers.
From El Calafate, we continued north on route 40, rode by some of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. We made it as far as Bajo Caracoles, before we decided to stop for the evening and spend the night. The evidence of stickers on the gas pump at the station was proof that we were not the first bikes to roll through. Of course, we just had to add our sticker too.
The next morning we rolled out early but only made is as far as Paso Rio where we found a Argentinian rodeo with plenty of gauchos strutting around sharply dressed. Since we’d already experienced a rodeo in Mexico and Guatemala (more like running from the bulls/cows in Guatemala ) we decided to stay the night and found a place to camp across the street. They had sheep shearing contests, barrel racing and one by one I watched riders climb into the backs of horses that were blindfolded, tied to poles, and as the horse was untied, the blind fold removed and the horse tried its best to buck the rider off and the rider tried to hang on until the bell rung. When the bell rung, if the rider made it that long, two other riders would appear right along side the rider and lift him to safety while the horse continued bucking. The riding was amazing and the gauchos very handsome, if I do say so myself. After the rodeo was over, the music started and in true Latin America style, the music went well into the night and early morning hours.
Today, we sit in Esquel, Argentina and are headed up to cross the border into Chile by Mamuil Malal which is the closest border crossing to Pucon, Chile. Our return flight home is booked for February 15, 2017. In the meantime, we are hoping that our bikes will last for a little longer without anything major giving out so we can spend a little time traveling around Chile. For the remainder of our time, we are now trying to stick to pavement, not always easy down here but we’ve trying.