Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Torres de Paine N.P. Visiting old friends in Rio Gallegos, Almost stranded with moto issues in the same place twice!

So the Russian couple and I departed from Ushuaia on a cold autumn morning. We even had a fan club on the way out.

Once again we were confronted with the same iced road.

I don’t like driving the same road twice but there was no other alternative, had to go out the same way we came in.

The road was nice…again…

More border crossings….

More dirt roads...

and I thought my seat was small...at least the company is good

More ferries….

This was the last I would see of the German and Russian couple. We departed ways once we got off the ferry, I took a left to Torres de Paine NP and they turned right to Rio Gallegos up to Buenos Aires.

It was a sad moment, almost 5 days of traveling alongside each other, and we visited the End of the World together. A great experience to say the least, but again the lone wolf is on his own, onward!

I arrived in Puerto Natales late at night. It was freezing….again…. way below zero, and since I have a tinted visor I had to drive with it up, and some transparent goggles, it felt like I was at the top of Cotopaxi again in Ecuador in a freezing snow blizzard.

Found the hostel the German and Russian couple recommended and went to bed.

The following morning I headed north to Torres de Paine.  

There was quite literally a "gas" station with gas powered automobiles

I was going to visit the park a few weeks back but half way is when the motorcycle exploded and I was stranded for 4 days on the side of the road…something I’ll never forget.

Again freezing my butt off on the way, this autumn in the Patagonia is ruff, I can’t imagine winter, it would seem impossible!

So getting into Torres de Paine NP costs roughly $30US. I’m getting very very short on money and will barely make it to Buenos Aires, so I’ve been saving everywhere I can. And $30 is quite expensive for a quick ride, so I found a loop hole in the system.

The guards close at 8pm. So if you pass by after 8pm, there’s no one to charge you and the gate is wide open. So that’s what I did, I waited a few hours and headed on in. Cheap Alex at his best. I was however taken for $5US when a park ranger in the morning charged me for camping; I happily paid $5 instead of $30.

Torres de Paine is a mystical place. I wish I would be here in the summer; I’m sure it’s spectacular.

The main attraction is the cool looking mountain.

And cool it was.

This was definitely up there on most awesome things seen. There was a majestic beauty to it I couldn’t describe. I don’t know if it was because I had been stuck in a small town for 2 weeks, but it was quite awesome.

There were lots of llamas on the way out.

So on the way out I crossed back into Argentina.

I even passed by the place I was stranded for 3 days just for fun and a sort of memorable moment.

As I got back on the bike, I heard an awful sound with the chain.

I couldn’t believe it! What are the odds of something so horrible happening to me in the same exact place in the world twice!

I almost had a heart attack! I couldn’t believe my luck was this bad, breaking down in the same place again!

So I checked out the problem. Well turns out that the sprocket was completely worn out. So the tire was having issues turning, it would skip and tug and pull every time I moved forward.

I was sure I was spending another 3 days there.

But I figured out that the tire still turned somewhat at first but once up to some decent speed it worked better, but not something I wanted to do for long.

So for the next 240 miles I was on pins and needles hoping and saying to myself, please make it! I don‘t want to spend any more time here in the middle of Patagonia stranded again! I did my 4 days and 2 weeks, no more please!

So about 3 hours later and biting all my finger nails off (obviously not since I’m driving a motorcycle), I barely made it to Rio Gallegos…again.

I was ecstatic to say the least.

So I stopped by my favorite mechanic to say hi to him and the guys who are always around the shop.

They laughed and couldn’t believe my luck.

Check this out, I have no idea how I made it, there was absolutely nothing left on that sprocket.

It was giving out on me towards the end, but I managed to make it.

So I went across town to find a spare.

Well again luck was not with me, they didn’t have one.  I was about to go nuts.

They found one that was smaller, it had 14 teeth and the one I needed has to have 15 teeth. All it would do is run the RPM’s a little higher. But I wanted to spend no more time in this town and took it, 

I put it on along with a new chain and said adios to the coolest guys in Patagonia.

Marcelo the mechanic didn't eve charge me for anything.

They invited me for another round of off road adventure the following day, but I kindly declined, I had to move north, running out of money and it’s getting pretty cold.

As I was in town I visited my now extended family in Rio Gallegos, the one who rescued me from where I was  stranded all those days and even allowed me to live with them for the two weeks I was there.

They were gracious again and allowed me to stay the night. In tradition I brought home the daily bread and sweets and empanadas I had always brought home every day for them when I was living there.

It was the first time in my trip that I had come back to some familiar faces and a familiar home and house and place I was previously at. An odd feeling of familiarity.

It was obvious that they missed me, and I them and had a great evening talking about my 7 day adventure to Ushuaia.

The following morning I continued on north to reach Buenos Aires.

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