The way to El Calafate, two up

Date: 05/05
City: Ushuaia, Argentina
Kilometres ridden: 0
Cumulative kilometre: 42600
Street: One lane highway
Weather: sunny, cloudy/cold, rainy, stormy

Today we thought we start to make our way to El Calafate, but it was raining and very windy in the morning, so we decided to sit out the weather and stay a day longer. It was another day for blogging and planning. We hope that the weather will be better tomorrow; at least the weather forecast says so.

Date: 06/05
City: Rio Grande, Argentina
Kilometres ridden: 212
Cumulative kilometre: 42812
Street: N/A
Weather: cloudy, sunny/cold, rainy, stormy

We didn’t start early, since it was windy and drizzling again in the morning. I tried to get money from the ATM, but there was a message in Spanish which I didn’t understand. I should have taken a picture of it and asked Google translateΒ πŸ˜›
Short side note, I really like the guys who designed the GUI- insert sarcasm here-, they ask you if you speak Spanish or English, the whole process is done in the language you selected, but if it doesn’t work, you get an error message in Spanish… Great, thanks!

Doesn’t matter we will get money in Rio Grande. So we left around noon even though it was still drizzling and I took it very easy since I was afraid of ice on the road. We didn’t hit any, but the temperature would have allowed for ice and water was seeping out of the mountain onto the road…
After we passed over the hills, the sun came out and the streets were dry so riding was really enjoyable. I like the signs in other countries, have a look at this one. By the way, as I have been told, they are actually Guancos and not Llamas. But they are cute anyway πŸ˜€

Just twenty km from Rio Grande the wind began to be very strong and gusty, so it was hard work to keep the bike with the two of us in our lane and out of the gravel on the side. When we arrived at the hotel, I had a look at the weather; the history showed wind gusts up to 90km/h. And I agree, it certainly felt like it!

After recovering from this adventurous ride with a short snooze I went to town to get money from the ATM, go shopping and fill up the bike. In Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego I found something common in every town, you have to queue. You have to queue at the supermercado checkout, the petrol station and the ATM. So I queued at the first ATM, and when it was my turn the ATM gave me a Spanish error message but no money. Ok, so I tried Sigrid’s card which I took just in case it was a problem with my card. It didn’t work either. No problem I thought, I try it at another bank. I queued again and…… no money and I tried it at a third bank, but this time I had a plan B. If this card (Master Card) didn’t work I try it with my Visa card.
And so, finally, something happened. This time the ATM kept the card and I got piece of paper out. Suffice to say, I was not amused. (luckily no picture was taken here, otherwise it may have spoilt the illusion of my constant happiness :P).
We only had enough cash left to pay for the accommodation and get petrol, so no shopping for me and I have to look at our account and find out what the story is. Maybe somebody cleaned the account out? To keep it brief, and me sane by not having to re-count the details, there was some technicality that prevented us from getting money for a couple of days. On top of it, our host told us that the bus drivers where striking for a couple of days and if it is not resolved by 7PM, there would be no bus tomorrow either, so we are stuck here. What a day!

Date: 07/05
City: Rio Grande, Argentina
Kilometres ridden: 0
Cumulative kilometre: 42812
Street: N/A
Weather: cloudy/cold, rainy, stormy

In the morning we heard that the bus strike is over, but the busses are only starting to drive again from tomorrow. So we decided to stay here today and take it easy. The plan was to get some money, buy the bus ticket for tomorrow, get my credit card back, go shopping, get petrol for the bike and have a look if we can find a place where we can eat some seafood. Today everything seemed so easy! We got money with a different card, got the bus ticket, got petrol and went shopping. Well, while I went shopping – Sigrid meanwhile tried to sell some credit cards …

Well she was actually sitting down when I was …… queuing at the checkoutΒ πŸ˜€. When we tried to find a restaurant that served seafood, we got an insider tip. A restaurant that didn’t look very promising from the outside, was rumoured to have great and reasonable priced food. Below are pictures of Sigrid, on the left when the waiter told her that there was no seafood. We then told him that we came all the way from Australia to taste the seafood in this restaurant, so he went to the kitchen and ask for an exception. On the right, Sigrid after the waiter returned and told us that the kitchen would make an exception.

The food was great, I got a seafood soup and Sigrid got Trout, both meals were very delicious. Aren’t we lucky that the bus drivers striked?

Back at the hotel I tried to cover the bike, which was more difficult then I first though. The final solution was easy though; I had to keep the cover in the air and place the bike underneath πŸ˜€

I hope that the wind dies down a bit tomorrow; otherwise I have 150km dirt road and gusty winds in front of me.

Date: 08/05
City: Rio Grande, Argentina
Kilometres ridden: 380
Cumulative kilometre: 43192
Street: One lane highway/ dirt road
Weather: cloudy/cold, stormy

We started early today. Well, early for us is when it is still dark when we get moving. Sigrid hopped (literally :P) into a taxi that brought her to the bus terminal.

I waited until after sunrise before I took off, which is good for avoiding Llamas on the road and not freezing to deathΒ πŸ˜€

So for today I had 350km to ride, two border crossings and a ferry crossing. If the wind gets worse the ferry won’t go and I’ll be stuck at the ferry crossing. The first bit, up to Β the Argentinean/Chilean border, was a bit windy. Well, it was mostly freezing, even with my heated Vest and the gloves on full blast. After the Chilean border, the dirt started and so did the wind. Let me put it this way: gravel and gusty winds are not my preferred riding conditions and I was happy that Sigrid was not on the bike. Towards the end of the dirt road, the wind started to die down, so riding became easy now. Nevertheless, I finished the last bit of dirt road in South America and I had to show my appreciation for the tarmacΒ πŸ˜€.

The rest was easy, the ferry was going and not long after the ferry I arrived at the Chilean/Argentinean border. An hour later I was already at our accommodation in Rio Gallegos. I tried to get my bike insured for another month, but guess what, the insurance shop is the only shop that closes at 17:30. Of course I arrived at 17:30. Doesn’t matter, tomorrow will do. And on the bright side, there were no queues this time. Ahh, and I tried my credit card and it worked again, I feel better now πŸ™‚

Date: 09/05
City: El Calafate, Argentina
Kilometres ridden: 306
Cumulative kilometre: 43489
Street: One lane highway
Weather: sunny, stormy

In the morning I went to to the insurance to get my 3rd party for the next month renewed. And …. I had to queue. No problem since this time we only had 350km on tarmac with a bit of gusty winds in front of us. Actually we now know why there are no palms in Patagonia, the reason is not the cold, no, it is the wind and we saw the sign to prove it.

The landscape was plain but the clouds were amazing. The camera didn’t really captures the different levels of clouds, but I guess it gives you an idea.

We arrived in El Calafate around 4PM, found a Cabana for a good price, and the owner helped us to organize the bus trip to the glacier for tomorrow.

So everything is setup for our 2nd last target in South America, the Perito Moreno Glacier.

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