18th December 2008


Despite all this, we managed to go about 60 miles before camping on a clifftop overlooking the sea. As it was very windy, we camped in a dip between the coastal thorn bushes. The sand gave no grip to the tent pegs and the only way to hold it down was by tying the guy ropes to the roots of the bushes.

After a supper of cake and porridge around a camp fire, as it got cold in the evening, we settled down in preparation for the next day.
 
Another very hot day with amazing coastal views, gravel and sand roads and running out of water. We saw nobody all day until a small farmhouse gave us some water from their well. After 50 miles and still no sign of the end of the road, we came across a large campervan and trailer with six local men who were diving in the sea. ¨Do you want a lift, it is another 50 miles out of here?¨ they said. ¨But, it will be another 3 hours before we leave, and you can wait here or we can pick you up when we pass¨.
They filled our water bottles. We decided to carry on and let them pick us up later.
It was so hot and so deserted that we skinny dipped in the sea to cool off.
 
As promised, we were picked up a couple of hours later and dropped off very conveinently by a motel where we stayed the night after washing the sand and dust out of everything.
 
A short ride into San Antonio in the morning  and the rapid decision to bus it the next 500 miles into Comodoro Rivadaria. This cost 20 pounds each, took 8 hours and travelled along the most desolate, boring, straight, flat roads you could imagine. Nothing to be seen on the horizon in any direction. We have ridden this sort of road before, but we were mad then! By the way, the bus trip included airline type meals and reclining seats almost flat.
 
Costs here are not as cheap as they used to be - Typical basic room 20 pounds, six good cakes 1 pound, 1 litre bottle of beer 1.50, bannanas 70p per kilo, steak 1.40 enough for 3 people, bread from bakers 80p kilo.
 
Animals seen - cows, sheep, horses, skunks, hares, rheas and small squashed furry things. Lots of different hawks and birds including loads of burrowing parrots. These parrots live in holes in cliffs and there is a large colony of a million along one section of coast. This is reputed to be the largest in the world.
 
At Comodora Rivadvia, Davids cycling sandals disintergrated. He has had them for 12 years. A new pair of cycling shoes - 83 pounds.

Local advice told us to get a bus out of CR because of the many lorries serving the oil fields full of Nodding Jennies. This area is the biggest oil field in Argentina and keep all the prices high around here.

At Sarimiento, the Tourist Info sent us five miles up a very rough road to campsite by a lake. It was closed. Back to town and stayed in a municipal campsite which was okay but empty and a bit grotty. On the way David fell off again and this time twisted his knee damaging the tendon on the inside. It needed rest to heal and we decided to hold up for at least 4 days until it was ok to carry on.
 
We found a fantastic cabana with two bedrooms, bathroom, living room and kitchen and TV for 20 pounds a night and stayed four nights. At this point David found out that his camera had disappeared, probably at the campsite. So, no pictures up to now!
 
Joan now decided that her cycling sandals should be replaced, but a whole day trip by bus back to CR failed to find the right size. The bike shop refused to charge us for about 15 pounds worth of spares and bits.
 
David was going to buy another camera sometime, but intended to wait until we got home.
 
David's knee was much better after four days and the decision to cycle further across Patagonia proved a bit of a disaster. After 30 miles into a terrific gale and being blown off our bikes several times, we decided for safetys sake to return to Sarimiento and catch another bus. The  ride was 6 hours out and 1 hour back, freewheeling most of the time with a gale behind us.
 
The problems continued. The 3 am bus turned up at 4 am and did not leave until 11 am due to brake trouble, the repair mechanic had to come 150 miles.

Eventually after another eight bumpy and dusty hours we arrived in Chile at Coyhaique.

Nearly three weeks and we may be able to start our cycling as intended. Only 400 miles so far.

Regards,

Dave and Joan Wooldridge