Time to leave the comfort of the north and head for the south and the real work of cycling. It all starts with bypassing 2500 Km of nothingness with 40 hours of bus.
Goodbye Thiago and I’m on my way to the station. I’m a bit apprehensive, this is a bit of a jump in the great unknown, compared to the two months of relative comfort in the secure environment of the hostel.
The station is less than a complete success. I should have printed the ticket. Relying on them being able to handle electronic ticket I guess was asking a bit too much. Never mind, all that walking around the station carrying all the equipment is good exercise for the biceps.
After the first three hours the trip is proceeding well. Music, book, a bit of TV and some sightseeing. I got a seat by the window to make sure I do not miss any of the action but I quickly realise that there is not going to be much to be missed for most of the way.
Evening comes and goes but the scenery does not really change much bar for the occasional tonal variation. As a matter of fact it will not be before 30 or so from the arrival that I will see a change in the scenery. I have never in my life been more happy to have made a decision to skip a cycling bit. 1700 miles with nothing at all, quite frightening.
Occasionally the bus stops into a small settlement, and they all look a bit poor, but once the town is left behind there is more of the same for miles and miles.
Finally, after the full 40 hours of bus we get to Rio Gallegos. I remember booking the bus and thinking that, as the bus was arriving in the morning, I could get a full day riding in. Well that was not meant to last, was it? we get in at 9:30 and I am already exhausted from the not so comfortable sleeping in the bus. I also carry other issues like poor knowledge of the terrain ahead and the lack of Chilean cash, that will be needed for the ferry tomorrow. Simple decision presents itself, stop in an hostel do all needed and leave in the morning.
Rio Gallegos is a tidy town, not impressive but tidy. You can obviously hardly get away from the fact that this was the front line of the biggest armed conflict since the second world war and the proximity to the Falkland Islands makes the references to the armed conflict omnipresent.
Going around town, and down to the really unworkable beach, was interesting. I am surprised that it looks like a much better place that I expected, especially with the experience of being through the various town along the Highway 3 coming down from Buenos Aires.
One of the other things to do is shop for food. I need at least three days supply as the distance between shops is not insignificant and the chances of slow progress are high due to weather. I have to balance it though and keep an eye to the load of the bike, one good thing is that I think I have shed a few pounds over the last few weeks thanks to the intensive Atkins they practice down here.
Finally, while catching up with all the electronic messaging I got a bad news from my planned WorkAway host in Mendoza, he appears not to be able to host me anymore and that means searching for something else. He passed me the name of a farmer friend of him and hopefully that will be enough to sort the problem. Even if I’m sure this is just first day jitter, and in a few days I will not want to stop cycling for love or money, at the moment, the thought of eight weeks of uninterrupted cycling does not feel me with joy and trepidation.