Wednesday, March 4
Day 188-El Calafate
I awoke today to find a steady rain beating on the metal roof of my centro "penthouse", feeling a bit troubled and altogether unmotivated. I had spent the night watching the story of Rocky Marciano, the only undefeated heavyweight boxer, whose plane when down back in '69. Before me lay a long day of air and ground travel, more than 2000 kilometers, and walking a kilometer in the rain will all my gear was not a pleasant way to start. Twenty minutes into the 3 hour flight, the chop began, stronger than I was used to, and all around me the folks are quiet with eyes closed, their internal dialogue no doubt much like my own, "not today, not this time". Times like this solo travel is especially challenging, with no one to chat and disperse the tension. An hour later all was well as the skies smoothed and the buzz of being on adventure was rekindled.
Here in South America I am meeting many travelers who are content to fly solo. Young dudes from Germany, Holland and Japan, solitary birds like myself, who have been out for seven, nine and even nineteen months. The award for most awesome world travelers, in my mind, now belongs to the Japanese. They go out for long, long trips, armed with just a little English, much less Spanish. We chat for a short while, sharing tales of border crossing anxieties, dramatic sights visited or missed, and our plans for the road ahead, be it short or long. At times I can almost believe that I am one of this elite group.
My road today has led me nearly to where there are no roads, to the end of the world. Only 12 hours by bus lies Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world. Sadly, I will not have time to visit that point on this trip, for there are many more dramatic things to see. I am in the area known as Patagonia, a stark and windswept land of dry grass, stunted bushes, huge glacier fed lakes and rocky peaks scratching the clear deep blue skies. It is nearly the end of summer, and at 52 degrees south, already the changing of the leaves has begun, the mornings cold, made colder by the incessant wind. For several days I will be in this region, suffering slightly, moving carefully. From this point, every step leads me north, closer to "home"