La ultima frontera

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Arriving in Villa O’Higgins, I went straight to the office of Robinson („return to freedom“) who run the ferry over Lago O’Higgins, a very costly traject of three hours for a trek to Argentina. I was just aghast when they told me that the ship was cancelled „because of the strong wind“. Their false pretences immediately reminded me of an adventure with my father in the North Sea time ago: we had rented surf boards and the low tide pulled us far out. The hirer came to our rescue in a small canoe. Having only one paddle, he got into serious problems himself, and we ended up pulling our boards and him in his boat, swimming in the cold water. He denied to rent surf boards the next days due to the ever „strong breeze“.
Now, there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, not even a cash point, and running out of reserves and on the race to meet my mother in some days, getting stuck in Villa O’Higgins was not the best situation. Asking around for another means of transport, a chain of about five people brought me to Señor Vidal, a fisherman running a boat for supplies of the frontier station on the other side. Together with Jens and David whom I had met again on the campsite, we were lucky to contract him to ship us over the lake early the next morning. There was no wind at all, of course, the water was perfectly blue and calm, but we soon realized that there was some trouble ahead: after hard climbing on gravel, the road turned into a mere trekking path on the Argentine side and we had to work our way pushing the bikes over bridges of single tree trunks, through deep mud and river streams and through labyrinths of wooden roots. Pushing down on a steep and narrow descent, Jens once broke the fixations of one lowrider bag and later got a loose spoke punching his leg.
Nevertheless, we made it to El Chaltén after a rainy night, a touristic village famous as basecamp for ascents of the beautiful needle of Cerro Torre (see next post). Continuing to El Calafate („the barberry“), we felt rewarded for all these efforts with best weather and a strong tail wind, but for the last 32km the road turned directly into the storm and gave us a hard struggle for four hours. Stepping out of storm and darkness into a hostel, it seemed like a wonder when I opened the door and found my mother waiting for me – a precise encounter on the other side of the world, scheduled months ago.