So here we are. Several bottles of Malbec, 4000-odd kilometres on a variety of buses, and 60,000 penguins later and we find ourselves in the depths of a Patagonian summer in Ushuaia. The blog, along with Rocinante, having gone into temporary hibernation. The prospect of cycling through Patagonia had inspired many a dream on humid nights further north, but against my mother's better instincts we decided to leave the warmer climes of the north for the southern latitudes of Argentina and Chile and travel by bus to the bottom of the continent and do a lap of Patagonia.
We've seen a lot, bussed a lot, talked a lot, hiked a lot, and met a lot of great people. We've seen some of the amazing sights of Patagonia, including the Cave of Hands, Perito Moreno glacier, the trails around Fitz Roy and the penguin colony on Magdelena island in the Straits of Magellan. Yet, while the reunion is fantastic and the region fascinating, the reality of traveling on tourist-filled buses to hamlets whose populations multiply ten-fold during the summer season serves to keep the fires of enthusiasm for getting back on the bike well stoked! The haughty attitude of one searching for a supposedly more authentic way of experiencing the lands I pass through and people I meet. Don´t get me wrong though, I can smell lunch - it's not all penury.
A few minutes into the new decade, having listened to the ensemble of ship's horns blast in the New Year, we abandoned our position by the chilly quayside and, as any decent citizens would do, we made for the nearest Irish bar. Huddling around our pints of muddy local brew, the girl behind me wondered aloud in an Irish accent about where she could get one of the party whistles that the 5-year old behind the bar was blowing into unsuccessfully against the roar of AC/DC's Hell's Bell's. It turned out the girl lives in the village where I grew up. Turned out she is the cousin of an old friend. Turned out we were both at his funeral over two years ago. And for a surreal moment at the bottom of a foreign continent, amidst a bar full of joyous revellers, we found ourselves sharing treasured memories of someone who had meant so much to both of us. It may not sound like the happiest new year on record, but it was up there with the best of them. Walking back to the hostel in the early dawn, I felt a reaffirmation of all those reasons for which resolutions are made at this time of year - from living life to the fullest, trusting your dreams, living in the moment, to being the change you wish to see in the world.
I hope 2010 is all of these and more for you... :)
Ushuaia, Patagonia, Argentina