27.01.17 Rio Gallegos, Argentina to Rio Grande, Argentina.
We met Patrick at the front of our hotel at 8 am this morning. We wanted an early start to the day, as we had two border crossings to make: out of Argentina into Chile, and back into Argentina from Chile.
This is because the road in Argentina ends, and we are taken into Chilean territory for about 150 miles before being returned to Argentinian soil. These areas are Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire.
It was an extremely exciting day. We were at border number 1 by 9.30am, and it was quick and efficient with all officials from both countries in the same building. A quick check by the Chileans that we had no meat or fruits, and a poke about in our luggage, and we were on our way by 10am.
The next stop was a small ferry to take us through the Chilean waters at the Straits of Magellan, where once again the road runs out (this brought back great memories of all the crossings we did in Norway). We waited about 45 minutes, with the winds howling around our heads before the ferry came, but it was quick and efficient taking us across the 4km stretch of water into the land of fire.
Patrick was mindful of the fact that he would need petrol, so we had made a plan to stop at a small place called Cerro Sombrero (closed sunhat!) as this was the only petrol station between Rio Gallegos and Rio Grande. It was too far for either of us to make it on one tank of petrol.
When we arrived at the petrol station, which was a single pump, with one side petrol the other diesel, the light was on, but nobody was home! There was a sign on the window stating that it would close every day between 3pm and 3.30pm. This was 12.30pm. A friendly local informed us that it was probably closed for lunch, maybe try later? We decided to have a bit of lunch, and a think. Patrick had a spare fuel canister holding 8 litres of fuel, we have 13.5 litres spare, so we did some calculations, and worked out if we rode on another 50 miles, and then refuelled from the canisters, then we should be able to make the further 130 miles we needed to go. At this point someone else came along, and told us there was a petrol station at the border, so fingers crossed we could get some there. Patrick was laughing and saying we could just tow him, if he ran out, although I think I heard Paul mentioning something about Rachel running along pushing, or running off to get fuel, something like that anyway!
We stopped after 50 miles, in the most incredible side winds, there was petrol spraying left, right and centre, plus a grazed knuckle for Paul, and a few choice words, but no matter, we pressed on.
Not 5 miles later we turned onto road YP57- and then our real fun for the day began, 65 kilometres (40 miles) of ripio, gravel road, with a brand new road already prepared beside it, which we weren’t allowed to use (as is so often the case). Not fun, but at least the wind had dropped this time.
After an eternity we reached the Chilean part of the border crossing, which was quick, easy and WINDY!
15 kilometres later we arrived at the Argentinian side, once again, no problems, only the WIND! One guy’s papers all blew away and everyone was chasing after them. The wind set of car alarms, and generally caused a nuisance.
Just the other side of the border, as promised there was the petrol station, and thankfully for Patrick a chance to get a ‘cafe au lait’, which was much needed. As I was waiting outside here, I saw a Land Rover pull in with British number plates, and was very excited to meet and spend time chatting with Jenny and Gavin, who are 8 months into a two year trip, and were on there way back up from Ushuaia. They will work their way up Chile, before flying their Landy up to Vancouver, where they will work their way up Alaska, through Canada and back down through Central America. We are envious of the North America part- we loved it there.
Tonight, we have an apartment on the sea front, and we are just off to meet Patrick for dinner…...