The trip has gotten off to a great start. After being helped out by a nice girl at JFK´s Delta desk who proceeded to give me better seats after telling her about my plans, I think she was worried about my upcoming sore butt on a bike seat, I was off to Atlanta followed by a 1-beer layover and a 9 1/2 hour flight to Buenos Aires.
Since I needed to change both airlines and airports in Buenos Aires for my final flight to Tierra del Fuego (Ushuaia) – I next had to pick up all my luggage, go through customs in Argentina and organize my own transport to a regional airport. Despite my nightmares on the plane, my luggage came quick enough and nothing was lost. However it looked like the airline baggage handlers used my cardboard bike box in a long-throw contest.
While reviewing the possible damage to my home for the next 7 months, I noticed a similar box across the hallway. After a quick introduction from both sides, the owner of the other bike box (a Swiss guy named Nedo) turned out to have the same travel plans as me. Without any previous planning – we both had the same flight to Ushuaia, we were both booked at the same hostel and we both plan to cycle through Patagonia and beyond.
The only difference in our immediate future is that Nedo plans to spend a year or two on his bike with a destination of either Miami or Alaska…… to be determined I guess. Here is a picture from after we first met in Buenos Aires, please note the part in my hair was is not my new south american style, rather the grease from 14 hours of flying catching up to me. Refreshingly, Nedo´s hair took the Afro approach after flying 19 hours from Denmark.
We decided that meeting in Buenos Aires was a sign from the Bike Gods which could not be ignored, so we obviously had to start our trips together. Maybe our paths will split in the next 300kms or 3000kms, but we´ll see how it goes first. After only spending 2 days with Nedo – he seems like a great guy who is very knowledge in all things biking, mountaineering and climbing: a welcome addition for sure. Although he is Swiss, he will ride with a Danish flag proudly flying due to living there for the past few years (so does that mean I need to fly a Dutch flag???).
You can find his own site here -> www.findingnedo.dk. The ´Finding Nedo´ title being a play on words from the movie ´Finding Nemo´ inspired by the school kids he taught – he was a primary school teacher outside of Copenhagen before quiting and going on this trip. As you can read for yourself on his site- Nedo likes to have fun,he already has one drunken post on the scoreboard for this trip, however ironically he will still probably give a more factual trip summary than myself.
The past 2 days in Ushuaia has been spent preparing for the trip with grocery shopping, eating tons of carne, putting together our bikes and biking/hiking to a near-by glacier (below is a photo on the way down, not the glacier itself). Luckily nothing was broken on my bike and I was able to put everything together with only the expected minor frustrations – pretty good considering I had to dissemble practically everything (bars, wheels, racks, fenders, pedals..) to fit it in the box.
Ushuaia (the end of the world) is a beautiful town and is the jump-off point for most of the tours of Antarctica. Below is the view from my hostel window – seriously. I could spend weeks here I feel but its time to start the real trip. I´m ready to be on the bike full time.
So tomorrow, Nedo and I are going to start heading north on our bikes – with day one looking to be around 120kms (thats a lot in miles too). Our first milestone destination is Punta Arenas in Chile, this should take us about 4 days of cycling/camping ending with a 4 hour boat ride. However this timeline will only remain accurate if the border to Chile stays open.
It turns out the border was closed for a week, just opening yesterday, because of big demonstrations & road blockades from the locals due to a sudden rise of the gas prices in southern Chile. Apparently this can happen at any moment again in the future. Fun times.
I´m not sure the next time I´ll have Internet access but I´m sure the road will be fun and full of stories until that time.