Wednesday, Dec 26th: Back on the road. Miguel
suggested we take the coastal route down to Camarones as it had good scenery and a
good gravel road. The major attraction that day was a visit to the Magallenic Penguin
Colony at Punta Tombo. Its a fantastic, surreal place with penguins everywhere: at
the park entrance, in front of the registration office, all along the road to the parking
area, crossing the parking lot. Its a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity to get
up close and personal with an exotic animal. You could still see the downy gray fur on the
babies, who have not gone out to sea yet. They squeal loudly so their parents will know
where they are when they come back to feed them. There are more than a half a million
penguins here, the largest colony in the world. The park is a joint venture with the
Argentine Department of Conservation and the New York Wildlife Society.
At the park we ran into Alex and Annette, the two Germans. They had left late the
day before and slept overnight in some nearby ruins. After having lunch together, Alberto
finally pulled up and met us in the parking area. We all bid goodbye to each other and
that wed see each other in Ushuaia. After that we really had to hoof-it since we
still had 400 kilometers to go at 2pm in the afternoon. The road from the penguin colony
to Camarones was fantastic. The road twisted and turned through different scenery, along
the coast, inland through brown and green valleys, and past small pueblos that looked like
veritable ghost towns. When we got on the road again, we found petrol very hard to find.
It seemed like only every other station had gas. Chris got a puncture at about 6pm and
luckily we saw it at the petrol station. Luckily also they had a tire repair room to make
fixing it a whole lot easier!
Our final destination that day was supposed to be Caleta Olivia, 100 kilometers south
of Comodoro Rivadavia. We only made it as far as Rada Tilly, 10 kms south of CR and
found a nice little municipal campground for the night.
Thursday, Dec 27th: This day we would really find out what all the talk was
about with the wind! Almost 800 kms were spent leaning over fighting the strong winds. The
first bit of the ride south in the morning was beautiful, winding along the rugged and
desolate coast. It then turned inland to the flat plateaus inhabited only by the
guanacos and nandus that we saw all day. We finally arrived at Rio Gallegos at 6pm and
went on the hunt for tourist information. A TV reporter and cameraman spotted us in the
town center and asked us if they could interview us. It was a quick 2 minute interview
which I said nothing and Chris did all the talking (what else is new!) I was slowly
getting sick that day and was tired and exhausted at the end of the day. When we finally
got a hotel room (for $38!) I collapsed.
Friday, Dec 28th: Frank and Rosa arrive (at 3 o'clock in the
morning!)----hurrah! After waking them at 10:00am, we chat all morning while they
unpack their bags and heap presents on us-----chunky peanut butter, our new bike covers,
etc. Chris and Frank go to pick up the rental bike and change the tires on our
bikes. Rosa and I take a slow afternoon walk around the town, relax over lunch and do the
grocery shopping for the next few days meals.
At 8:20pm, Pedro, the hotel proprietor bangs on the door and pulls us into the lobby --
we're on TV! Several other guests are there too, and we're instantly
mini-celebraties in the hotel. Pedro even gives us a discount on the room and let's
me use his phone line to connect to the internet!
We meet three other guests (a Canadian guy, an American girl and a girl from Turkey) in
our hotel that are all travelling together in a Land Rover. Theyve managed to travel
through the whole of Africa to South America in 6 months time, without incident until now.
They all have cuts and scratches about their heads and bodies. They tell us they just had
a bad accident on a dirt road on the frontier between Chile and Argentina. Luckily they
were not hurt worse but the Land Rover is a bit crushed and they have to get it back up to
BA for repairs. We go to dinner with them at a tenedor livre that night.