Monday, January 22, 2007

the bull may be injured, but he is not going down

Hola amigos,

Team Awesome is currently in El Calafate- the most touristy city this side of Nuevo York. The streets are paved with lovely cobble stones and every other store sells either fine choclates or ice cream for a pretty peso, but getting here was no cake walk.
When we last left off we were but moments from enjoying a coffee with Miguel and his family. Coffee turned to eggs, turned to piscola, turned to a tour of the city, a dinner with corn, salad, and the best leg of lamb Ive ever had (literally a leg, with femur, tibia, hoof,and all) and before we knew it, it was midnight, shots of cognac were being forced upon us and our 6 am departure was pushed back to a respectable 4:30 pm. These people could really talk, we enjoyed 6 hours of conversation (er, monologue) about the school system in patagonia, the legacy of Pinochet, the racial background of estancia owners (apparently a lot of them are Croatian, who knew?), and a number of other fascinatng topics. Of course, I learned all of this the next day and fully understood exactly one sentance: Ostrich eggs are very large and make delicious omelets. "ah, Si" I replied knowingly.

In the 250 km between Puerto Natales and here there are 2 things: a town containing one mediocre burger joint, a gift shop for toursists, and the argentinian-chilean border, and 249.9 km of Pompas, dry chaparral. There is also a famous Chilean National Park, Torres del Paine. We biked an extra 60 km to the entrance, but upon learning that it would cost $120 US for us to enter for a day we did the math and realized that this would make a major dent in the 3 pesos we save every week for the special fund that will go towards a secret present for Thea once we arrive in Caracas (Ill give you one hint, it involves a stripper named Jorge and fistfulls of pesos). So we turned around and biked out.
Around this time Matt started not feeling so well. He began to lose large levels of fluids from an orifice generally reserved for the expulsion of solids. "Suck it up, you pansy!" Thea yelled and so Matt did and he rode 90 km over dirt washboards. The man is a machine. If youve never experienced washboards, theyre like small speed bumps, set apart every six inches, with large rock in between them. By the next morning Matt was also losing fluids from the other end and it was decided by all that it would be best if he hitchhiked, so he rode in the back of an empty uhual while the rest of us biked the last 90km of paved roads to here, passing the 1000km mark on the way. Thea brought baloons, but they were flown at half mast to mark Matts absence.
I am happy to report that he is feeling much better now and was even able to do his part at a tenador libre (an all you can eat meat buffet- literally "free fork") last night.

Today Matt slept in while Ben, Thea, and I went to see a huge glacier that calves regularly. Ice falls off into the water, people take pictures, Ben murdered me in Chess, the regular. You can see pictures of the glacier on the internet, Im sure. In the hostel people are playing hotel california and pink floyd on guitar and we will be leaving early tomorrow for a mad dash across another 250km of pampas to make the ferry that leaves twice a week. Wish us luck.

Team CP

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

at least the cops are on our side...

We are currently rocking out in Puerto Natales. We have just glided over 250 km of beautiful pavement since our last stop in Puenta Arenas. I suppose glided isn´t quite the right term as the winds were steady and strong for nearly the whole time, prompting us to take a rest day by the side of the road under the wind monument pictured below as winds climbed to a reported 90 km hr. Nevertheless we made the best of things by making a few prickly pear, pesco martinis, a drink traditionally served in a leaky canteen at room temperature. It is a cocktail famous for its availability when all you have is a flask of pesco and some prickly pear drink mix.
After such refreshing energy drinks we were more than ready to brave the winds and get our bottoms here. We knew things were really awesine when even the downhills felt like steep uphills, we were Sisyphus rolling our bikes up the hill, but I guess Sisyphus never got to gorge himself on empinadas at the end of the day.
15 km out of town we stopped at a border crossing where the head of police there, Miguel, chatted us up while we sat on his lawn and rested our legs. He told us that a decade ago it was much less windy and it never rained here, only snowed. They used to give the police long sleeve uniforms, but a couple of years ago they switched over to short sleeves. He blamed it on some crazy liberal theory called ´global warming´,but that seemed really unlikely to all of us. Incidentally he also invited us to stay at his house. We slept in his very nice shed last night, with a puma Miguel had shot hanging on the wall. Their family cat slept on the end of my sleeping bag and Matt and Thea talked up his garolous and kind wife. Its good the cops on our side, because the wind certainly isn

Hasta luego,

the cp crew

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Below are action shots from the last week - unpacking our bikes in Ushuaia, climbing the pass out of town and fending off dogs. Yesterday we ran out of food and had to hitch-hike to town...uh, yeah. Definitely awkward.

Off The Island

Hi friends we are officially off the island of Tierra del Feugo and are happily munching on beef sandwiches in Punta Arenas. We left Ushuaia on Jan 3rd and have spent the last six days battling our bikes, our stomachs, and a twenty km headwind to get to the port city of Porvenir where we caught the ferry to Punta Arenas.

Overall we've been incredibly hgappy with our bikes but have realized we're carrying way too much stuff - will probably be sending home spare tires, extra parts and clothing tomorrow. Bull is thinking about going with only one shirt from here on out. That may seem extreme to you...that is, extremely awesome. Everybody smells terrible and it is glorious.

Things of course are exciting. All of our faces are peeling (please don't tell Mama), chamois cream has been applied liberally, and everyones' butts are en fuego. Tierra del Fuego itself is for the most part a windy, desolate collection of cattle and sheep estancias. There are many, many meeshees. On the way to Punta Arenas we passed mine fields, llamas, flamingos, a ton of Israelli backpackers, and a foursome of middle aged german cyclists whose calves made us look silly. They told us we were crazy to be riding against the wind and they were right - maybe if we'd cracked a guidebook open before getting down here we would have realised that the wind is predominately from the north and vicious. Last week in punta arenas they had to put ropes up along the side walks so people could go about their shopping in the 100 km gusts. BANGARANG GRANDMA.

But anyway everybody is so happy and healthy and full of empanandas. So much love to all our friends and family. crushingpower at (i'd use the symbol but can't find it, though we do have a ton of çççççççç. anyone need any çççççççç? Nope. neither do we. I want the at symbol). Anyway email us and we'll hit you back. Smooches to Oberlin X and Jeff Burton for being number one fans. If you don't know what chamois cream is don't ask.

photos to follow.