Monday, December 17, 2012

El Fin

After 478 days and 24139 km we have arrived at our final destination of Ushuaia!

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It was only one day from our last stop at the bakery in Tolhuin.  And as before, we rode as part of a group of six cyclists.  The road was very pretty and the riding easy.


Since our arrival we’ve had a bit of time to reflect, and also to ride out to the real “end of the road” in Tierra del Fuego National Park.


The end of the furthest road South in the world at Bahia Lapataia.


And now the big question, how do we feel?  Surprisingly we each feel quite differently.  So here are both of our accounts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Into the Land of Fire

Tierra del Fuego (“The Land of Fire”) is the Southernmost part of South America.  It got its dramatic name from the Portugese explorer Magellan, who spotted the fires that the indigenous used to keep burning on the beaches.  But more importantly for us, it contains Ushuaia.  This is the literal and figurative end of the road.  It goes no further South.  And so it’s known as “El Fin del Mundo”, or “The End of the World”.

This area of Patagonia is also home to lots of penguins! We were able to see two different kinds: small and rambunctious Magellanic Penguins, and large and regal King Penguins. 

Near Punta Arenas we visited a penguin colony on Isla Magdalena. Here, approximately 6000 pairs of Magellanic Penguins come to nest each year! They dig burrows in the ground and are now raising chicks.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pampa, Pampa, Pampa

Southern Patagonia is an intense place.  This region of the Andes is filled with jagged peaks and dynamic glaciers that extend almost to sea-level.  The mountains in the West give way to vast, dry grasslands in the East.  These windwhipped plains are called “pampa” here.  And they are so vast and empty that one usually says “pampa, pampa, pampa” when referring to them.

Our time has been split between riding through the mind-numbing pampa and excursions into the mind-blowing Patagonian Andes.

The pampa (pampa, pampa) is notoriously windy.  Life is spectacular with the wind at your back (30-40km/hr), horrible with the wind at your front (5-12km/hr), and frustrating with it at your side (12-18km/hr).  We count ourselves lucky that nobody has been blown clean off the bicycle … yet.

Super windy here ... better hold on!  Windy times ... better hold on!

A sign of the times.