We are back online! There has been a lack of posts recently due to an unfortunate event in Trelew where we had a s***tonne of our belongings stolen from us. We were both completely unharmed, only the truck had war wounds to be cared for, which we did immediately! Then moved on from the city and back into the peaceful tranquillity we had become accustomed to.
The nights leading up to Trelew had been wonderful, we had met a great pair of Argentinians from Buenos Aires who had put their shoes on and set off on their adventure, to travel and find new experiences. We had spent a night around the fire with them, drinking wine and mate (a South American specialty) and Phil finished the evening off with half a bottle of Limoncello, I don't think either of us would be able to explain how he came to such a decision but he certainly came to regret it shortly after.....The following day was, let's call it a 'day of rest'.
Let's skip passed Trelew because, you know......
We were welcomed into a wonderful seaweed farm in Bahia Bustamante, by the kind owner, Matias. After spending the night there, we were offered the opportunity to explore the beautiful coastline surrounding the farm and words cannot explain how beautiful it was. It reminded us that our journey had barely begun and we had so much more to explore and enjoy, none of our belongings were as important as the experience we are privileged enough to on. The next stop was the petrified forest, an amazing scenery of tree remains turned to stone through 'petrification'.
Our camp spot for that night was just amazing, inside a huge canyon filled with salt flats, we were accompanied only by three rock climbers and some flamingos. It was an easy enough spot to get to in the truck, sneaking round any salty soft bits of ground, however all of that changed when an almighty storm hit during the evening. Hail stones the size of small cats were falling from the sky, threatening to smash through our tiny camper! We were instantly and acutely aware that the exit of this canyon was going to be nothing like the entrance.
Morning came, and this canyon really was an incredible place to wake up! After some breakfast on the edge of a huge rock, we packed up and began our exit, for which Phil was nominated driver. Lucky boy. Here is where the car had her first experience in low traction, a gear designed specifically for when you are unsure of whether or not you are going to EVER make it out of a situation.
Here's how it all went..We started out, everything was fine, we had a little joke about how if we got stuck we would have two choices;
1) get down and dirty, knee deep in the gunk to build some ramps for the wheels in the hope she could find some grip to get moving again.
2) Wait for the sun to come out and dry up the mud, we had plenty of food for a few days so it was a strong plan in my opinion!
Praise the lord! Neither of these options were needed, as Phils mud rally skills ramped up and we drove out....diagonally.....tail end first......in complete shocked silence.
El Chalten was our next destination, to visit Mt. Fitzroy. This was quite a touristy little town, full of all the things we humans love, wine, beer, burgers, coffees, Ice creams, waffles, it was a dream town of goodies! Of course we didn't hold our selves together and resist for the sake of the budget...we had two burger dinners, a dulche de leche smothered crepe, coffees and a rather strange oreo/cream/sugar concoction. We spent a day enjoying some of the smaller hikes around, before the big one, when we would wake up at 3am and hike in the dark, in order to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fitzroy, shining in the orange spotlight of the 6.30am sunrise.
On our way out of El Chalten, we encountered a lovely little area next to a waterfall and decided to get out and explore beyond the beaten track. We climbed up and over some huge boulders and we were delighted with what we found on the other side. An area where the locals could enjoy their beautiful surroundings without being disturbed by the annoying tourists (of course, we don't fall into that category). We found an amazing little series of rock pools which were just too enticing to resist! After a quick dash back to the truck for our towels and swimwear, we were in the water! and moments later we got the hell out of there! The water was freshly melted from a huge glacier on the mountain above us and it was beyond our imaginations limit of how cold water can be before it is ice. Ouch!
We pressed on to our next destination, Ushuia and Tierra del Fuego national park. Our first hike was an 18 mile coastal walk, with wonderfully easy terrain and so many different sites to see along the way, it was a very relaxing day. The wind here is unbelievable, which pushes the weather along so rapidly that we were in miserable, cold rain one moment and within 5 minutes we were stripping off our layers in the heat of the spring sunshine.
In the middle of the walk is a visitor centre and café where we stopped for a hot drink, to eat our sandwiches and rest our feet for a moment. Here, there is a small peaceful room full of information regarding the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego, the Yaghan people. We loved the information regarding these people and their way of life and I'll leave you with the first words you see as you enter this area;
You are at the 'end of the world'. Mountains, sea and woods together form the landscape, wherein are stories that are told in shapes, colours and movement, even in feelings and absences.
To understand them it will be necessary for you to become and observer, attentive to all that surrounds you, big or small, near or far, alive or not,
because everything is intimately related. That is where you will find the answers to your questions.
The Yaghan people had a word for this way of looking at their world: Maia-Ku.
When that spirit of enquiry (Maia-Ku) germinates within you, you will feel more than 'at the end of the world', rather at the threshold of a new world ready to reveal its secrets.'
So, we spent the next 10 days killing time around Montevideo which, I’ll be honest, isn’t full of adventures. We stayed in some truly glorious airbnb’s with one absolutely awful hostel thrown in there, just to remind us how lovely our other choices were.
On Friday 28th, came the long-awaited day when we could collect our beloved truck from the port and get on the road. The process was long, involved lots of important people, important buildings and fancy looking Uruguayan documents to be signed. Luckily, we had an incredible agent who held our hands through the whole process and clearly had the power to pull strings and get things pushed through quickly, allowing us to merrily stroll past queues of people who looked as though they had been waiting for days….
We met a lovely couple of retired New Zealanders who were on month 19 of their travels and without an end in sight, they were going strong. They had shipped their Land cruiser over from Hamburg after visiting a plethora of exciting locations prior. We envied their collection of flags on the side of their car, highlighting how incredibly well travelled they were!
Excited to get on the move, we made our way straight out of Montevideo and found ourselves a beautiful campsite for the next couple of nights. With lots of beautiful little beaches around the river Rio Uruguay and some very friendly stray dogs, it made for a very pleasant stay. Although the weather was really not on our side and we encountered some of the most spectacular thunder storms we have ever witnessed. We can now confirm that the camper is officially……slightly leaky.
After a day visit to the Fray Bentos pie factory, we found ourselves a picturesque little spot to sit and make our first hot meal, and after days of sandwiches for breakfast, ham and cheese wrapped in bread for lunch, and bread with filling for dinner, it was very well received. We had been searching Uruguay for an open shop that sold jerry cans, so we could buy some petrol for our stove. What we had overlooked is that there are limited health and safety expectations here in South America and all we really needed was a big water bottle. After a bit of google translate and image searching, a very kind gentleman at the petrol station threw out the dregs of his oil and gave us his empty bottle to fill up and take away.
On our way to the Argentinian border yesterday, we collected some good road karma by helping out a pair of Russian hitch-hikers who were backpacking South America in the search of a new place to call home, they were great company on the road and were pretty impressed with our little home. The border crossing was surprisingly easy and we waved goodbye to Uruguay and hello to Argentina!
Much like the Uruguayans, Argentinians seem to quite enjoy their daytime siestas, making it impossible to buy any food, or buy anything in fact, before 5pm when everything comes to life. With a slightly leaky truck, plenty of food for the road and a new country to explore, this week should be a good one!
So, our journey began on Monday morning, when we flew from Heathrow airport after a lovely breakfast at the Darwin with Phils ma and brother. They waved us off through airport security and off we merrily trundled, to wonder through the off-duty shops for hours and hours!
Once we were on the plane, we watched about 4 movies before we both had completely square eyes and Phil was getting quite concerned that the flight was actually never going to end..alas, as soon as we began playing our card game, the pilot announced that we would soon begin our descent and we had to pack everything away in the overhead lockers.
First (very brief) stop: Miami
We had eight short hours to enjoy the freedom of Miami before the next 9 hour flight ahead of us began, so we very quickly found ourselves a bus and made our way to South Beach. What a picturesque place it was, we had a stroll down the seafront and observed the excessive vanity displayed by so many people, who had entire teams to take pictures of them slow-mo running down the beach. This was the point at which I realised my shoe choice was far below par and suddenly I was taken back to being 19, fighting through the pain of many, many blisters from stilettos on nights out. Lesson learned: don't wear flip flips when walking for hours in the heat, this choice of airport footwear is only appropriate when catching a direct flight, followed by airport transfer to your hotel/resort.
Miami beach behind us, We boarded our second plane, which was inappropriately economy considering the length of the flight... nevermind though, we napped through the whole thing, waking up every 20 minutes to adjust, so our limbs could re-gain blood flow.
Uruguay, we have (finally) landed! We were through the other side of Uruguay airport in a matter of minutes, and very quickly realised that our Spanish needed to vastly improve before we could go anywhere! Luckily, we were saved by an incredibly friendly Uruguayan amigo, who heard our terrible Spanish attempt with the bus driver and stepped in to help. We caught the bus with her to Montevideo shopping centre where the three of us spent about an hour and a half speaking to a number of phone shop assistants, finding a good phone deal for our travels. Now, Phil and I had initially intended to carry out this search ourselves, which was hilarious as we stood there, saying NOTHING while our new bestie did all the talking.
We woke up Wednesday morning, refreshed and ready to explore so of course, our plan had to be to get to the Montevideo sign for photos. The streets, beaches and parks were full of people enjoying the sunshine of springtime and living their best lives. It took us two and a half hours but we made it to the sign, where two Brazilian ladies kindly took our picture and we all laughed at our enormous language barrier, completing the exchange with a simple 'bien'. The only Spanish word we all seemed to know.
What followed was four hours of meandering through the streets of Montevideo gaining what can only be described as horrific sunburn and eating Phils new favourite, oranges.