STOVE – Our alcohol-burning stove we made a few weeks ago has proved to be an awesome contraption. It took a few trial and error burner models to get one that worked perfectly, but I think we've got it figured out now. The heat distribution is much better than our previous purchased stoves, it doesn't use much fuel and it has been holding up nicely in the wind. A winner all around.
WATER FILTER – We had been boiling all of our water up until about a week ago when we bought a water filter. Although it was painfully expensive, it was much lighter than carrying extra fuel, much faster (10 minutes to fill all of our bottles vs. 90 minutes to boil it all) and much more enjoyable to drink fresh, cold water instead of, often times, hot, plastic-tasting, floater-filled water. It proved immediately to be a worthwhile investment.
WARMSHOWERS – We stayed with our second warmshowers.org hosts in Coyhaique, Chile. Once again we found ourselves surrounded by a welcoming family who showed us their town, their lives, shared a common passion for travel and bike touring and spoke English yet encouraged us to practice our Spanish (which is a good thing). We have come a long way with our language skills since we arrived in South America but we rarely get the chance to have conversations with people who are patiently willing to let us stumble through what we're trying to say, speak slowly to us and explain in English when we don't understand. It would be nice to meet more people like this on this trip. We also got to do a much-needed load of laundry, our first since Santiago, and I was happy to once again have a pink cycling jersey instead of a brown one. Thank you all for your wonderful hospitality!
Diego, Shayen, Rafael, Cari and Mike
Diego, Mike, Cecilia, Ayelen, Chago and Shayen
DRIVERS – They are still annoying, as 95% of them refuse to slow down when they pass us on these gravel roads, leaving us choking on their plumes of dust, unable to see and dodging the pebbles that they kick up into our faces. Fortunately, we're quite a ways out in the middle of nowhere, so there's not a ton of traffic but the occasional truck that passes still thinks it's a fine idea to honk right next to us. I'd like to stand them on a gravel road, go roaring by and simultaneously take a blow horn and blast it right in their ears and see how they like it.
TABANOS – The monstrous horse flies that we were introduced to in Argentina are still bombarding us in full force. They are literally driving Mike to insanity as I watch him slap himself on the head about a million times a day trying to kill them. We probably succeed close to 50 times a day...and only have about 19 zillion to go.
FISHING POLE – Mike's $14 fishing pole turned out to be just that...a cheap piece of equipment that craps out after a few uses. He's snagged quite a few nice trout with it and it has entertained him for hours at camp, but the reel turned out to be garbage. He spent an afternoon modifying it with a piece of wood and a bunch of duct tape and to his amazement it worked. He's a happy camper.
Mike's newly modified fishing pole.
GRAVEL ROADS – We got a wonderful 2-day break from the gravel roads and it felt so nice to ride on pavement again. I loved every second of it. After that, the roads returned to potholes, washboards and loose gravel and it seemed like every time I started getting the hang of it they got a little worse. After a solid week of practice, my fits of rage and outbursts of tears went from daily to almost non-existent and we reached a big milestone the other day when I made it up and over a really shitty section of road without falling over or walking. It would be a complete lie if I said I now actually enjoy these roads, but it helps that we have seen other cyclists pushing their bikes (I'm not the only pathetic one out here) and I have finally accepted that some parts of this road are just too crummy or steep to ride. I think I might actually make it to Ushuaia without any broken bones!
Oh sweet pavement...we never knew how much we loved you!
Just another crummy road.
Cari pushing her bike up one of many insanely steep sections of road.