So, you’ve reached the end of the world! What next? How about a relaxed week visiting national parks, museums and penguin colonies?
But everything is absurdly expensive…
Well why not catch a cheap pre-booked flight up to Buenos Aires and enjoy Christmas in the sun?
How about hitchhiking with a fully loaded touring bike over 3000km and risk spending Christmas drinking box wine alone in a barn?
We have a winner!
Months ago, long before the reality of the situation had set in, I decided upon hitchhiking my way north from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. It would be fun, I thought. I’d meet some characters, see a whole other side of Argentina and save myself a lot of money in the process. I’d heard tales of other cyclists doing this so knew it was possible. All I needed was a bit of luck and plenty of patience.
However, as I sat in the snug confines of Refugio de los Mochileros in Ushuaia surrounded by cyclists preparing to fly home for Christmas my plan didn’t seem so alluring. Staring at the map the distance seemed greater than ever. What had my stupid past self got my present self into? As I wheeled my way to the entrance of Ushuaia, a mere 2 days after arriving, I can’t say I was brimming with wanderlust and enthusiasm. I just wanted to go home. Weighed down by the steel grey skies I stuck out my thumb and hoped for the best.
As I prowled the one and only mean street of Sibundoy I spotted a stall selling really big juicy looking salchichas (sausages) and I simply had to have one. Thus I spent the following day writhing around in bed in a windowless room with a dodgy stomach and a fever. Thankfully after a cocktail of drugs and copious amounts of water I sweated it all out and the next morning I was feeling fresh and raring to go.
If there was one section of Colombia that slightly worried me it was this: riding through the corridor between Palmira and Cali, respectively the 8th and 10th most dangerous cities in the world. While the chances of anything happening were tiny, I didn’t want to end up skirting some dodgy barrio come nightfall so I set of from Walter’s good and early to be sure. In fact I need not have worried. I shot like a bullet down the Pan-American Highway and by 12 o clock I was comfortably clear of both cities. All I had to do was find some lunch.
I didn’t want to leave Casa Madrid. Diana told me tales of a German guy named Matheus who spent 2 months there and I envisioned myself spending the rest of my life swinging in the hammock, reading books, drinking beer and practising Spanish. And so, it was for that exact reason that I had to leave. I cooked Diana and Isabella a thank you meal of makeshift carbonara (ain’t easy to find bacon on a Sunday in Bolivar) and regretfully pulled myself away from their tractor beam and back onto the saddle.
I woke up early and after a little meditation and a simple breakfast (along with the Andes, I see mountains of porridge in my near future) I was on my way. On the side of the road a man was selling huge bags of blackberries and for only 2,000 pesos and I couldn’t resist. About 10 seconds after paying I realised they were underripe and, judging by the vast quantity, were obviously intended for making juice. Not so easily deterred I kept shoveling them into my mouth. My tongue felt weird for about 2 days after.
Keen to avoid the mistakes of the day before, I set off in search of a hearty breakfast. And I found one. Calentao, which literally means “reheated” is a popular staple in Antioquia, traditionally comprised of yesterday´s leftover rice, beans and whatever else. Accompany it with beef, scrambled eggs, cheese, a mini croissant, and a coffee (which was conveniently served in a handle-less bowl like a soup) and you’ve got a mighty fine breakfast. Even the chili that came with it was near Mexico-level spicy, which is a rarity in Colombia.