Before the boat arrives at Chile Chico, I meet Sebastian and Candela – from Cordoba in Argentina. Sebastian had cycled all the way from Alaska- not unusually, there are a number of people we’ve both met along the way- not least Nico, who was one of his original group starting in Alaska ..and he’d heard of the Scot who spent weeks recovering from injury in Tumbaco. The road is long, but not very wide.

Somewhat on impulse, I joined in others and cycled east -across the border into Argentina- to Perito Moreno, and south on Ruta 40. (The first town, Los Antiguos, has a large mural dedicated to the issue of sovereignty of a certain archipelago in the South Atlantic – not unusual, I’m told – but not a subject I’ll comment on here)

The change in scenery is considerable – we leave behind snowy mountains (for now, at least) and into softly rolling countryside – the pampas.

The wind ..is pretty strong. Varying between the northeast and southeast, it renders progress a little difficult at times. The spaces between settlements here are quite large – interestingly the distances between reliable water sources has so far been larger than I encountered even in the desert. The road embankment (or the pipes beneath) are frequently the only shelter to be found from the wind.

Just north of Bajo Caracoles (a few houses, a shop, and petrol station) Sebastian and Candela encounter a friend and hitch a lift south- their timetable is a little stricter than mine. I find myself alone for the first time in quite a while – since the first day out from Puerto Montt, in fact.

It takes me three days to cover the 225km between Bajo Caracoles and Gobernador Gregores. At one stage battling into the wind saw me averaging around 9km/h for five hours .. only to round a bend and double that day’s distance in around an hour with the wind at my back. Access to the Internet is a little scarce even in towns. A hundred miles from anywhere (in any direction) it occurs to me that I’m overdue for a check-in; I flag down one of the few passing cars. The driver, Santiago, is very understanding and kindly sends an email homeward on my behalf.

It’s still too early for freezing temperatures at low altitudes, but even when (if!) the wind drops, it is cold at night. My tent has thus far weathered the conditions well, and still keeps the rain out. Spirits are always raised by hot food and drink, and there is no refuge like my bag of silk, nylon, and feathers.

Next objective is Tres Lagos – the road runs broadly southwest, so some hard miles lie ahead – ripio if not upwind as well.

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