I was too tired from the days trek to do anything about the predicament I was in. I was certain there was no one with the capacity to weld aluminum in this town. Yet I needed to straighten the bracket so that the Jesse bag could hang straight and offer unencumbered access to the fuel tank. I simply removed all the bags and took a nap.
There are 2 or 3 “taller” shops (workshops) for autos in El Chalten. The next morning the owner of Hosteria Los Nires insisted on driving me and my bracket and damaged Jesse bag to each of the shops. This actually turned out to be a great gesture as the rain started again and all three of the shops were closed. We made 3 loops around the 4 block area where the shops were concentrated. My guide banged on the doors, windows and honked his horn. No go. He then remembered a fourth place. But this was a gomeria – a place for repairing tires.
The gomeria was finishing plugging a balding tire for another local when we arrived. A few other locals were sitting around the dirty and greasy place with horribly bad lighting. How can these guys work in darkness. I remember the shop where we changed the kick-stand safety switch in Bolivia was like a cavern, damp, dirty and dark. I explained what needed to be done and the guy quickly grabbed my bracket and headed toward a small vise. I quickly grabbed the bracket back and said “No. Necesito un yunque. No podemos usar esto, el metal es suave.” The guy started looking around. Didn’t want to tell me he had no anvil. We started traipsing through the junk pile behind his garage. And there buried under some garbage with grass growing over it was an old railroad rail. It was too heavy to move so he moved the garbage, took a small machete to the grass and proceeded to use the straight plane of the rail to bang my bracket straight. Then came the bag itself. I only wanted to get the corner where the weld busted square again. I’ve been carrying some high-tech 3M epoxy which I hoped would suffice for making the box temporarily water proof.
Within a few hours I had the bags repaired, bike packed and gas tank full and head out of town. The dirt track leaving town was a bit muddy and slippery but nothing serious. Within the first half hour outside of El Chalten I was struck by three massive birds simply hovering above me, effortlessly rising in the thermals and floating. I hadn’t seen a condor since Talampaya in December. But here I was cruising along Lago Viedma and three massive condors were scoping the highway and adjacent campo for some sort of road kill. By the time I stopped and grabbed the camera they were gone.
Today’s plan was simple, simply get back to El Calafate, spend the night and get up early the next morning and head to Chile and Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.