By my rough calculations, I am 2000 miles from Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina. But how to get there? Down the rough windswept Ruta 40, over gravel, broken pavement, and if it rains, mud. Or perhaps, ride some 650 miles south to Puerto Montt and take the Navimag ferry to Puerto Natales. Then ride three days to Ushuaia!
This ferry ride, taking four days and three nights, if the weather is good, is famous for it`s beautiful passage, through Pantagonia´s fjords and wonderous glaciers. A tour through turquoise colored lakes and rivers, past vegetation made up of lenga, coigue and nirre trees. Past wildlife that we rarely see in south Texas. Dolphins, cormorants, petrels, seals and whales! All the while on the 400 foot ferry and passenger ship, "Magallanes"; originally built in Japan as a passenger and ferry boat. Thirty eight cabins and 132 berths. Great food, rest and a bit of a respite for the Goose, plus saving 1000 miles of hard travel.
The decision is made! This morning I booked passage on the Magallanes to depart Puerto Montt Monday and to arrive in Puerto Natales Thursday. From there it is only a two or three day ride to Ushuaia where I will spend the Holidays..
And today? First I took a subway to the other side of Santiago to the Navimag office. Imagine that, a south Texas motorcyclist negotiating the Santiago subway system. And such a beautiful subway system, thoroughly modern, very fast and spotlessly clean. Breakfast in a beautiful sidewalk cafe in the university section of the city and a bit of shopping. This afternoon I have to pick up my ride, a 1993 BMW R100GSPD, assuming the repairs are completed.. If it is truly road ready, then I will depart early Thursday morning, headed south. If it is not, then I just wasted the fare for the Magallanes!
But staying in Santiago is not bad! The most sophisticated city that I have yet visited. A city of beautiful older colonial buildings nestled in the midst of the most modern skycrapers. A city where young lovers are seen hugging and kissing on the streets. A city where 55 year old married couples are constantly seen walking hand in hand and even occasionally kissing, all with no embarrassment. A city where gay couples fit right in with everyone else. A city where the aveage Chilean man and woman eagerly accepts, even welcomes, this very unsophisticated gringo, who knows neither their language nor their customs!