Tierra del Fuego – Land of Fire
After leaving Ushuaia I headed for the border with Chile to cross Tierra del Fuego. I should have stopped writing about how easy border crossing has become as this one was about to become more challenging. You are not allowed to bring fruit into Chile and I had with me a banana, 2 apples and a peach, which I declared on my customs form. I figured that since I had only 162 kilometers of barren land to cross that my lunch would be a non-issue, how wrong I was. First I was told that it was a good thing that I was honest for declaring my “contraband” as the fine for bringing fruit into Chile was very large. I then had my lunch confiscated (just like grade school all over again). The worst part was still to come, the Chilean border guards did not give me back my vehicle import papers, in all the commotion over my lunch it also slipped my mind.
I stopped and checked my map to find the shortest way out of Tierra del Fuego and back into Argentina. My map showed three roads and the one I came in on was the shortest. After about 20 kilometers I started to think the road looked much different, I assumed the road looked different going north and didn’t give it a second thought, until the road looked very different and was a lot more difficult to ride. I eventually had to ask a guy herding sheep if I was going the right way and fortunately I was. He told me that I had only another 25 kilometers of go to the Straights of Magellan’s and the ferry to the final border crossing. I made it this far without a GPS and I knew I would find my way out eventually. On the ferry I met another rider, David, from the US and we watched as black and white dolphins swam beside the ferry during our 20 minute crossing.
At the border crossing I was asked for my vehicle import papers by the Chilean customs officer. I explained my “adventures in fruit” fiasco from only 2 hours ago. My explanation resulted in a lot of head shaking, a short lecture, lots of fast talking Spanish, more stamps and forms until I was eventually free to move the 2 meters over to the Argentina customs agents. Lesson learned, when crossing into Chile – beer and chocolate for lunch.
Once in Rio Gallegos Argentina I stopped at the Honda dealer to buy oil for the bike and it was here that David noticed that I had broken my front shock. I felt nothing and had it not been for all the fluid over the front of my bike it would have gone unnoticed. The parts and proper service are not available here in Patagonia and I decided to ride without having it repaired, I have two front shocks and feel things will be OK.
I rode to El Calafate and visited the “Glacier Perito Moreno”. I have never seen such a wall of ice before, it was amazing. Unfortunately I did not get to see any huge chunks fall off into the water below but I did see several smaller pieces which put into perspective the size of the glacier. Truly amazing! I have seen such incredible things on this trip and this was another one that I am glad I did not miss.
Given my broken front shock I have decided not to visit Torres del Paine or ride Route 40, two things I really wanted to do on this trip. Better to have unfinished business than a major repair or accident here at the end of the world. I will add it to my list of “unfinished business” which also includes; The Sacred Valley in Peru, Salt Flats in Bolivia and riding Mexico with my friend Mike. Sounds like the making of “Greg’s Adventure PART 2”.