Perito Moreno, Argentina

Surprise, greetings from Perito Moreno, Argentina (see map to the right)! A not so slight change in course. How did I end up here? By bike of course (and a ferry ride across Lago, South America’s second largest lake). But what made me decide to come this way?

On my way out of Coyhaique, I was feeling less and less OK with my decision to catch the earlier ferry at the end of the Careterra Austral, which would involve hitching. I toyed with the idea of taking the one a week later and hitching afterward if I had to. But I didn’t like that option either. When I got to the junction on the Careterra for Puerto Ibañez, it was raining, and I sat under a bus stop, and thought about my options. The decision to head down to Puerto Ibañez wasn’t easy, but in the end, I think it was the right one.

In short, I think my body, mind and bike are much more weary than I realize (for what it is worth, the French tourists at the campsite here said I look tired, but that was before my morning coffee).  Despite plenty of sleep lately, I wake up and my legs feel rather sluggish. There is a season for everything, and at the moment the route I was planning to do was looking more and more daunting, and far too rushed. I’ve had stretches of grueling and challenging (and rewarding) routes on this trip, but perhaps now is not the time for more of that.

Taking the Easy Way Out? Perhaps, but the weeks of biking ahead will have their challenges, so maybe more like Picking My Battles. Quitting (the Careterra Austral) While I’m Ahead? Most likely; I had a stupendous week of great weather and serene camping, and am glad to remember my time in Chile like that.

I do think about what I’ll be missing (and travelers who have been to or want to go to the places I am missing out on may think I made the wrong choice, but too bad):  Riding on the Ruta 40 again (but this time triple digits instead of kilometer markers 4,300-3200 like I did back in January).  Seeing the Rio Baker, one of the biggest and prettiest of Chile, before it is dammed (damned). The Villa O’Higgins crossing and the bike/hike into Argentina described by some cyclists as “a must do” and “epic”. The hikes and scenery around El Chalten and Calafate; Mt. Fitzroy and Torres del Paine. But if I start to think about all the things I didn’t do, or detours I didn’t take on this trip (or in life!), then I’d loose sight of the things I have experienced and cherish.  I’ve made a decision, and I have no option but to stick to it and make the most of it.  Yes, you only live once, but in this once lifetime, I do plan on travelling more than once!

The ferry ride across to Chile Chico was only a couple hours, as the Lake Carrera (Lago Buenos Aires on the Argentine side) is rather narrow at this point. My ride into Argentina and to Perito Moreno was great, with constant tailwind from the west. And of course, a much more noticeable display of Catholic fervor than in Chile, with a Stations of the Cross that spread out over a mile or two (albeit backwards for me), and huge roadside shrines. And, aside from the huge blue lake, the scenery is quite similar to what I experienced in northwestern Argentina, wide open spaces, and not much out there except short scrub, permanently bent sideways due to the wind. And behind me, rain clouds that seemed to stop right along the mountain chain along the Chilean border. But it is much cooler than when I was biking between Salta and Mendoza. The days are shorter (just around 13 hours from dawn till dusk), and the noontime sun much lower on the horizon. (Through the wonder of hemispheres and airplane travel, I’ll be back north just after the equinox, in time to start enjoying longer and longer days into the northern summer.)

So where to from here? My most likely route is to head straight east (with a nice tailwind) on Ruta 43 until I hit Ruta 3 on the Atlantic side of Argentina. From there I’ll continue south to Rio Gallegos, then cross into Chile and take a ferry to the Tierra Del Fuego island, and back into Argentina to Ushuaia. Aside from the wind, which can be quite a curse when not a blessing, I’m looking forward to some long stretches to just bike and let my mind wander.

For now, I’m enjoying a day off in Perito Moreno, doing not much. The only thing I have to do here is buy groceries and exchange the boatload (pun intended) of Chilean cash I took out to pay for the ferry. But the value it will loose in Argentine pesos is just a sunk cost (no pun intended, I have friends on that boat!).

8 comments to Perito Moreno, Argentina

  • Cooper

    It’s good to make a decision and be sure of it as you move forward. You will probably enjoy the wide open spaces and the chance to clear your mind more than you realize. plus it’s cool to think you are sort of one big intersection away from the road that takes you to the boat to TDF. Keep truckin’

  • Great perspective, Matt! Keep on, and may your eyes be open and your heart full wherever you are.

    • admin

      I do indeed keep my eyes open when am on the bike. =)
      But yes, this will be a good time to practice finding beauty in the small and ‘boring’ things.

  • Hi Matt, We just made a similar decision when we realised our bodies were weary and we would not head into the high Andes again but down onto the plains. It is the first time since November 2009 that we have left the Andes. We are now cycling from municipal campsite to municipal campsite on very flat roads and eating well. Its amazing how easy it is! 100km days are a doddle down here! We are flying home from BA at the end of March.

    Good luck with your new plan, the wide open spaces and of course the wind. The only problem with your plan is that you won`t go to Panaderia Don Luis in Calafate which is way better than the famous Tolhuin bakery.
    Much Love
    Harriet and Neil

    • admin

      Hey PikesonBikes! Enjoy the easy pedaling. Do you cycle all the way to Buenos Aires or getting there by bus/plane? I’ll also be there the last few days of March, I hope we can catch up there.

  • Dad & Mom

    Good for you for paying attention to your body, mind and bike. It sounds like you made a wise decision to change your route. We’re cheering for you!! Take care. Love, Dad & Mom

  • Ruth

    21 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep on pedaling! I echo many of the previous comments…I hope you can continue to feel present in your trip and daily experiences throughout the next few weeks. And, I’m pretty sure that as thrilled as I am about your return I sure will miss reading this blog and living through you.

  • Kjell-Arne Lindvall

    Fantastic ride thru America! We’ve been following you from Sweden on your blog.
    We wish you good weather for the rest of the ride and God’s blessing over you and your bike.
    The Lindvall family (K-A, Elisabet, Gaby, Davis and Jakob)

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