I’m enjoying El Calafate. There are good restaurants, services a plenty and it’s a place where travelers congregate. It’s a jumping off point for many places in Patagonia including El Chalten (Fitz Roy), Torres del Paine, and the legendary Ruta 40’s southern section. For me it’s a perfect opportunity to take care of laundry, catch up on the blog, review photos and make new friends.
As a solo traveler it’s easy to take in experiences on and off the bike. But after winding down from a day or riding, hiking or touring I look forward to a decent meal and good night sleep. Sometimes I’ll drag my computer into the restaurant and write or enter notes from the days adventure. Other times I’ll bring in my analog journal (moleskine book) and review mileage, enter notes or thoughts. Other times, I simply sip a beer or glass of wine and stare blankly out the window or at the people surrounding. My first night in El Calafate I met an older French couple sitting next to me. I shared my story and then they told me of their adventure more than 30 years ago when they sailed their boat across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. Before desert was served we exchanged addresses and I have an open invitation to visit France.
The second night I spotted a couple sitting a few tables away. The man, in his mid-forties, slightly curly sandy hair sat with an elegant Italian looking woman with straight black hair, big brown eyes and perfect teeth surrounded by succulent lips that made for an easy smile. The man debated about wine choices with the waiter and as I translated the conversation in my head, I called the waiter and asked for a glass. Then poured from my bottle a glass and brought it to their table.
Soon I moved my glass and things and joined them for the end of their dinner. We closed the place after a couple hours and many glasses of wine. Fredric, from Normandy in France and Karina, originally from Rosario in Argentina but now living in Bahia Blanca had met just weeks before on a flight from Rome to France. Karina is a well regarded mezzosporano singer who has performed for the Pope and Fredric runs a business importing and exporting seafood from South America and France. For the next several days, as a third wheel, I joined them for dinners and by a stroke of coincidence ended up on the same boat for an all day tour of Lago Argentina where we explored more glaciers and the ice-berg studded western end of Lago Argentina.
The laughs, the language and the camaraderie are hard to capture in just a few words here. But safe to say and as readers of this blog will attest, it’s the characters, people and friendships made along the journey that add color to the amazing vistas, incredible motorcycle riding and cultural heritage that I experience on this WorldRider journey. I believe my new friends will one day marry and I’ve been invited to participate as one who will attest to the love and friendship these two have formed in what they both call their “second lives” as both have been married with children but now embark on a new life as if children in love and open to new experiences. A rejuvenation of sorts. It was very inspirational as I know I inspired them. We played with French, English and Spanish languages, and giggled and laughed as kids. Meanwhile the vast beauty of the Andes and Patagonian made for a perfect backdrop to our experiences and new friendship.
After Karina and Fredric flew back to Buenos Aires I tried to connect with a Texan rider who happened to be in El Calafate. He left Texas around Christmas and had already made his way to Ushuaia and was heading north. A fast journey and I’m sure he has stories to tell, but it was funny to me as now eleven months on the road and I’ve yet to get to the bottom of the world, yet I know it’s not going anywhere and I’ll be there when the time is right. After a couple e-mail exchanges he disappeared. Not sure what happened to him.
Meanwhile the boat ride on Lago Argentina was much more spectacular than the short ride to Perito Moreno I took a couple days ago. Here we ride the Upsala Explorer, a large catamaran that carries nearly 200 people through the other world of brilliant aquamarine ice-bergs floating on a turquoise lake to the glaciers responsible for scenery and floating ice we pass until docking where we disembark and hike to smaller lake and more glaciers.
Another catamaran flirts with a giant berg.
Though as I reviewed my photos after the wonderful day-long cruise, I discovered somehow I must’ve changed the resolution on my camera as many of my photos are unfortunately of minimal resolution and incredibly small. I hope you can get at least a portion of the chills that zoomed down my spine as I hung in the whipping cold wind and showers of freezing spray. But there was no way I wanted to be inside the catamaran. The world and air around me paralyzed me in the front of the boat where just a handful of the other 199 people on the boat braved the elements and took in the scenery.
Vista over looking Lago Roca after we hiked through the woods to come upon another precious place.
Looking up into the mountains from Lago Roca where another glacier inches its way down the montains.
Karina & Fredric. New lives.
Upsala glacier from my boat on Lago Argentina.