Reaching our final destination. Ushuaia.
1st till 7th of December 2019.
It’s the final countdown.
How is it to reach our final destination? Is it like preparing for a wedding for more than year and experiencing the day of a lifetime?
I started to write-up this final week blog already a few weeks ago. In the same manner as before. But is it worth to write that the weather was good? That we stopped for a coffee at the gas station and watched people? Would this not be too boring to read? But in order not break the flow of the weekly blog, you still get it similar as before.
As our blog starts on a Sunday we set of with the final Sunday.
Expectations are high when we leave from Rio Grande and our luxury apartment. Of course a last whats-app video call with home. What a luxury to be able to see each other! This has made this trip a lot easier for everybody. Would be strange to travel completely without it.
Weather is good. No head or tail wind. Not too cold. Reaching the gas station we can’t resist a coffee and watch people. Standing in line I wonder why they don’t yet have the efficiency as in the Netherlands? It takes more than 30 minutes to finally get the desired coffee. Is it because this is one of the first time in months that we have to wait in line for a luxury item? Comparing service to service at home? Or is it because we are almost home? We do have time today so no need to stress.
Car wheels on a gravel road.
We follow the RN3 with a wide shoulder but too much noise for our liking. Decision is taken that we will be turning right on a gravel road soon. Seeing the turnoff in the distance we wonder why there are so many cars.
Sunday rally is going to pass by in an hour and all traffic is prohibited to enter the back roads where they are racing. As the weather is good and we have plenty of time, as we anyhow will camp tonight, we decide to take the opportunity to wait in the sun, read, watch people and of course take photos. We could have followed RN3 but this is the final part where we can follow a gravel road.
After 1 ½ hour we finally can start. Seems to be an area where a quite a lot of locals from Rio Grande have their Sunday afternoon picknick. At least 20 cars take this turn but once they have passed almost nobody passes by. In the week it must be totally quiet. Finally right use of quite and quiet, right?
RP9 gives us rolling hills, great gravel, valleys and new forest of leña (beech) trees.
We could not have asked for more. But we do get more. We find again a magical spot to camp. Fury spongy moss hanging from the trees. Distant call of vicuñas.
These are the best campspots. No signs of people being here before. Being sure to leave no trace. Wondering how more travelers would affect those campsites as nature is very slow in composing and recovering.
Again endless stretches are waiting for us. It does something strange with your mind. Bit like a runners high. Now some more hills, gravel and spinning in my head.
I wonder as I wander.
What will we do once we are back home? So many plans, so many possibilities, so many things to do. I want to stay a bit longer in my Zen mode and try not to think too much ahead but enjoy this last week of biking. Wondering about all the amazing nature we passed through, wondering about all those kind people we met, wondering about time that has passed so fast and yet so slow. Wondering about how blessed we have been to be able to do this together. Both liking the rough side, both liking the biking. Happy we saved enough money so I could stop working to undertake this trip together with Frank. Happy to have sufficient funding that we don’t depend on the generosity of people for food and shelter. Happy we can afford a basic room (or better once in a while) when there is availability and the weather is bad. Just for your info: it is cheaper to travel by bike in South America than to live in the Netherlands.
iOverlander mentioned a lake with an abandoned hotel. Lucky it is late afternoon when we arrive. Only signs of previous parties but no people.
You don’t understand why this hotel on this location could not survive. The hotel was kind of old style USA motels rooms. Stupid the shed which hosted the generator was in-between the rooms and the view but beside this mistake you could have a wonderful holiday with a prestige lake, snow-capped mountains and lots of swimming/hiking/horse riding possibilities.
We count our blessings that we can camp on a hill overlooking the lake. We are bit less blessed when it starts to rain, forcing us to have an early night. We could have camped in one of the abandoned rooms but a negative vibe forced us to camp further away from the building.
In the morning packing everything wet is one of the least favorable things we have been doing during this trip, luckily it did not happen that often. If it would not have been so wet we probably would have stayed an extra night.
More gravel and a bit of asphalt brings us to Tolhuin, last village before Ushuaia. Occasionally a farm dots the landscape. Cows graze between ancient mosses that are rock hard.
A must visit is the bakery in Tolhuin. If we wanted we could have stayed for free at the dorm but we choose for a small B&B with a great host and slow WIFI. Having some extra time we stay an extra night. Aldeir shows up and stays at our place. Slow conversation, long evenings. It does not feel like Christmas is coming.
Next day is our shortest ride ever. Only 3 km. We stop again at the bakery where we meet some fellow bikers, ending or just starting their trip, sheltering for the rain and feeding not only on some great sweets but also on each other’s stories. Then we head off to find a great cabana just outside town, overlooking lake Fagnano and decide to stay an extra night even if we don’t have any WIFI.
Final 95 km to the end of the world you could do in one day but then you would miss the epic abandoned hotel, the place where 90% of all cyclists stay when starting or ending their trip.
Again an amazing location, great constructions, huge hotel with several weather beaten cabanas and nobody there.
As it is forest and the only flat space is the parking lot we decide to shelter in the cyclistas cabin. Of all the cabins this is the only one with all windows in place and that is wind and water proof. It is kept reasonably clean by cyclistas passing by. Stupid that people leave stuff which is not useful, just garbage, e.g. worn out bike tires and empty bottles. We did not expect that we would have the place to ourselves. Last time setting-up the tent, even if it is inside. Last time cooking dinner and breakfast on our primus stove.
Happy to be inside, still only 3 degrees inside during the night.
Last stretch biking, last steep climb, last time pushing to pass the pass. We don’t follow the final stretch of the backpacking route as that part following the coast is more bike carrying. Last roadside lunch.
We made it.
And then we suddenly see the welcome signs of Ushuaia. Quick selftimer photo. And after 500 meters we realize we even did not gave each other a kiss. No hugs. No congratulations we reached our goal. We wonder why this was? Was it because we knew we would get here? Was it because it was cold? We both don’t have that euphoric feeling, blue feelings compared to the euphoric feeling when we reached the finish of our only marathon in Athens.
Knowing there will be WIFI in the gas station we embrace the warmth and hot coffee while searching for an apartment. As we still have a week before our plane is leaving we don’t want to camp. No dorm or shared facilities but the luxury of a small apartment in the center of town.
Before unloading we search for the Fin Del Mundo sign. Yes we did it!
Last week is spent looking for souvenirs. Not the same on offer as in El Chalten or Puerto Natales. I hope people at home understand we could not carry presents for thousands of kilometers.
That last week is as a detox week but reversed. Lots of food. Good wine. No biking. Short walks. And we can’t be persuaded to visit any organised highlights. We decide we have seen enough sealions, whales and pinguins during the past 111 weeks. We have braced enough against wind and cold. Still FOMO kicks in and we can’t resist to bus/hike to the most southern post office and hike the National Park.
Final preparation of the bikes and luggage.
And the best closure of this epic trip is a dinner with friends we met on the road and friends we have been following on Instagram but never met in real life before this evening.
Best part after a long flight is being welcomed by our besties!
Now real life is knocking on our door! 2020 will be a totally different year. Wondering if we will be missing this type of adventure or which part of this adventure we will miss!
Ps. Did you notice that Frank has been choosing song titles for chapter headings?
PS2. Our quest has been completed. Thank you for following our adventure.
One thing we learned is to never stop dreaming. Never stop exploring. Never stop pushing your boundaries. But be you!
With love. Frank en Jacinta.