Cycling “Fireland”

Tierra del Fuego – fireland – is the name of the biggest island south of the continental mass of America.
The name was given for the countless campfires which the explorers could see on land while they were sailing along the coast. Magallan, Darwin, Fitz Roy and other famos sailors found their way through the southern waters here.
I agree fully on the name as every single day since I arrived to the island ended in front of a fire. Either a campfire beside the tent or a fire run oven inside of a house.
It is getting freezing cold and the days are short. Sunrise around 9am, sunset not later then 6.30pm. Temperatures during the day -5 to 10 degrees. Night temperatures I don’t even wanna know.
It is very remote down here but the few people I meet offered a heart full of hospitality. I made friendship with almost every person I met.

Cycling out of Povenir, the port village I had arrived to, I came across a group of about 100 soldiers marching fully equiped on both side of the road. “Hola…” I said hesitating “HOLA!!!! Vamos, vamos! Good morning!!!” was the overwhelming response, comined by applause of douzents hands while I blushed and presented my silliest smile.

I passed the humble house of a fisherman around lunchtime. He looked at me in surprise and asked: “Do you want a coffee?” While he boiled the water he prepared omlette for me. Later he showed me his vegetable garden and his books. He is interested in any topic and use to educate himself during the long nights of winter. We were talking until the late night, in the morning I helped him with the catch of the day – more then 30 seabrasses! He asked me to stay and work with him. I was tempted to…

I cycled on, following the coast. Empty, silent. For hours I saw neither a car nor a house. Thouse which passed mostly slowed down to ask if I needed anything. A truckdriver almost forced me to take a lift with him. I agreed. I felt like chating and we enjoyed each others company until we reached his destination. I cycled on, surrounded by red forrests as was is late autum by now.
The landscape presented itself incredible beautiful. I sat in the middle of the quiet road and ate the bread and vegetables the fisherman had given me. A campfire kept me warm as the sun went down and the sky filled up with shining stars.

Next day the carabiñeros stopped while my lunch break and asked if they should give me a lift to anywhere. They were the only people I saw that day.

One morning when I had just loaded the bike and was ready to leave a bus came by and stopped. It belonged to the military and an officer asked: “Do you want a coffee?” They had marbel cake as well, an amazing top up to the breakfast I just have had. Before they left they handed me cranberry cookies, a cereal bar and a yoghurt drink as proviant.

Same day I arrived to the fishing lodge at Lago Deseado where my friend Moritz had stayed for a while a few weeks ago. The cook came out of the house, asked me if I’m the friend of Moritz and welcomed me warmly. Later the workers came home from the construction side – a wild but warmhearted group of 5. Next day I went with them to the house they were constructing at a magical place on the lake side. I explored the surrounding, learned how to deal with a fishing rod and drank lots of mates with them until we went home. Jose ,the cook had prepared a delicious meal for us in the meantime. They asked me to stay. I was tempted another time..

Next day I cycled over a pass. The road was partly covered by blanc ice and the tires slipped away once. After that small crash I manoeuvred the bike very carefully further downwards, always ready to jump off. Nothing happened any more and soon I was rewarded by an incredible view. The ice covered road was leading in serpentines through the red forest down to the enourmus lake Fagnano. On the opposide throned the Cordillera Darwin covered in ice and snow. This beautiful mountain range forms the south end of Tierra del Fuego.
As I approached the lakeside I passed a military camp. A man came out and asked me in english: “Hello! What are you doing here so far from home?”
The next two nights I stayed in the military camp, but that is another story…


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