A month since I turned my phone off, instantly feeling isolated and cut-off from everything at home, and boarded a flight to Buenos Aires. No more access to bicycle shops for last minute spares, or chemists that spoke English, no more time to plot potential cycling routes south from where I would land, no more time to plan anything. The spreadsheets, maps, conversations and planning become reality the moment my phone’s screen went blank.
I cycled from Puerto Montt south through Chile to El Chalten in Argentina and then hiked the circuit of Torres del Paine. However, very little of the adventure went according to how it was planned from my ‘base camp’ in Cape Town – behind a computer screen in a first-world apartment a continent away.
Fortunately, I wouldn’t need much of the medical kit and nor the bicycle spares. Things I thought could break didn’t. Those I thought wouldn’t break did. The route I’d take would be altered by ferry-crossings, winds and luck. Some days would be easier, some would be impossible. The weather would be as expected, but ‘7 degrees with rain’ when you’re 73km away from the next shelter and food is very different to ‘7 degrees with rain’ on an iPhone screen when you’re sipping an americano in Cape Town!
But that’s what makes it an adventure.
A month and a huge adventure later, I’ve crossed the Andes on a bicycle and on foot, explored glaciers, summited mountains, bivy’d next to rivers, bivy’d in the rain, bivy’d in the snow and under star-filled skies, found border crossing few knew existed, lost a few kilograms and toenails, learnt to predict the weather in Patagonia (cold with a very strong westerly wind, everyday), learnt more spanish, found help from absolute strangers when the unexpected did go wrong, met like-minded travelers from Korea, Canada, the US, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovakia, Argentina, Poland, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, France, South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil, The Netherlands, Israel, The Czech Republic, Spain and Russia, each on their own adventures at their own pace in their own way – some cycling, some walking, some using ships and ferries, some backpacking, some doing nothing at all – each with their own story to tell.
In a few minutes, and a month later, I’ll step off this flight. This adventure will end. But that blank screen will light up and with the world at my fingertips once again from base camp, I’ll start planning the Next Big Adventure!