After spending the night with the highway crew, I set off early in the morning with Nicholas. We’ll continue towards Torres Del Paine in Chile.
The border cross was close to the place where the highway crew was staying, about 20 km or less. Before coming to the Argentinean border gate you have to leave Route 40 and enter a dirt road. The pavement work had just started. Quite normal for Argentine since the paved roads were also in very bad conditions. The border gate at the Argentinean side was inside a farm land. There were a few buildings on both sides of the border. Usually, the one or two km land after the exit belongs to one of the countries. It doesn’t mean that if you have exited at that point the right of control of the country also ends. Sometimes they also put the border gates behind their own borders.
Approaching the Chilean side, the roads became better and then paved as usual. Before border cross I took my bike aside. I started to eat whatever fruits and vegetables I was carrying on my bike because they would be seized at the border. I guessed that Nicholas would arrive till I eat all of them, but he didn’t. Anyway, after a while I headed to the border gate.
There was no one at the vehicle pass. I lifted the barrier gate myself. I passed with my bike, then leaned my bike to the wall and entered the building. This was a quite well furnished border control point with the best custom supplies. But there was nobody inside!
- Hey! Is there anyone?
Dude, there wasn’t anyone really. And this was not a small building. I shouted but no one came. I went out. There was a restaurant next to the building. I went there:
- There is nobody in the customs building. I want to enter the country but didn’t see any officers.
- Most probably there are out for lunch. Just wait, they’ll come
For the first time, I saw that a border gate was closed during lunch time. After waiting for an hour two officers came back, logged on and stamped my passport.
After entering the country I went back to restaurant and waited for Nicholas. The town was very small with 10 streets at most, two hostels and a nice hotel. The hostels were closed and the hotel too expensive. We checked the posts of other cyclists on Ioverlander app and found a suitable camping place at the back of the bus station at the southern end of the town with free WIFI. In Chile and Argentine there is free WIFI at the main squares supplied by the municipality. Before pitching our tents I saw that it was minus 5 °C. In the mean time I tried to open one of the office windows at the back of the bus station. To my surprise it was not locked. The bus station was closed since it was not touristic season. We put all our stuff inside but our bicycles. Inside was very clean and we found a room with seats.
- Nicholas look that’s good.
- There is even a fireplace Gurkan
- If someone will recognize us here, they’ll throw us out. Therefore, we better don’t turn on the lights. Inside is warm and we have free WIFI. On top of it the plug sockets are working.
We set off the next day to arrive in Torres Del Paine. Just before, we went to a grocery. In this region everything is very expensive. If there is a grocery in Torres Del Paine it would be very expensive for sure (there wasn’t any). Therefore, it is better to buy food and snack in this small town. Especially they have snacks resembling Turkish halva which I liked a lot.
The view along the road was really amazing. I liked Chilean Patagonia very much and repeated this many times along the road. In many countries in various continents I lost myself in the nature, but this here was different! Really, this land attracts you in a different way. There are only few places on the earth which I thought worth to settle down and those were generally occupying very small area. But in Chilean Patagonia; I liked many spots, look this place is perfect, the other is also, well maybe this place is better, so on. The area I liked occupies more than 1000 km.
At the entrance of Torres Del Paine National Park there is a control post made of a couple of buildings at which the entrance fee is paid. Although I arrived there outside the season I had to pay for entrance. I learned that some travelers first went to the rest rooms at the opposite side of the ticket office and then continued on their road without any payment. But we got our tickets and stayed at Hosteria Lago Tyndall located at the center. By the way, there are several hostels in this area. The hostel we were staying at was empty and under renovation.
We talked with the attendant girls and they told us we could stay at the sitting area outside the rooms. I must say we only paid for the meals. We were pretty lucky. Really, it was almost impossible to find such a thing at this point. In summer season, people make reservations months before even for the camping area before coming to this region.
Now, it is time to wait for good weather. In bad weather it is impossible to walk to Torres Del Paine and see it. I follow the broadcast from the young people at the hostel. The walking distance is not short. In one of those days we were waiting it snowed. Well, the view was amazing. The next days, learning that the weather will be good we set off together with Nicholas.
The last time climbing to Fitz Roy in El Chalten I had used rented gear. This time I don’t have a backpack and have SPD boots with metal cleats on the sole which I use for riding (PS: These shoes are not making noise when walking or hard to walk with. You may find the brand and model on my equipment page). In short, I climbed Torres Del Paine in winter with my SPS boots. The ascent was quite easy, but I descended airing my lungs. Not due to the boots I was wearing but due to the poles. Without using poles, it was quite hard to descend from the summit. The view from the summit was really nice. Nicholas and I reached summit at different times. I was very slow. Therefore, for both of us it was a solo climb in a way. Since we were out of touristic season nobody was on the summit and I enjoyed the view. When I came down it already got dark.
In the past the possibility to come upon pumas were high but not nowadays especially on the tract to the summit. In previous years a puma coming nearby to the hotel had attacked a dog of a tourist. Therefore, the officers resettled the pumas to another place. Each year aggressive attacks of the pumas to the visitors had been increased. I guess everyone spending some time outdoor would know the reason. There is no other creature on this planet more savage than human being.
There aren’t only climbing routes to the summits in Torres del Paine, also a hiking route called “W” with spectacle views. Since I didn’t want to go to this area I set off. Nicholas decided to stay in this area for a while. The next days, also Javier joined Nicholas but since Nicholas had started to walk on the 4 days long W route, Javier only hiked to the summit and then continued to ride on Puerto Natales road as I did, they didn’t meet.
Till Puerto Natales there is a dirt road 85 km long. Along the road there are a few way stations. Those stations are mostly closed during winter season. While I was riding on this road, not a single vehicle passed by.
Anyway, I exited from the park gate and rode for about 20 km. There were slight climbs. The injury on my knee was getting better. After arriving at the top, I started to descend on the dirt road. My speed was about 40 km/h and I was looking around. The road was straight forward and clear. Its quality was good. Before I could realize what happened, all of a sudden the front wheel got locked. At that speed the rear wheel got off the ground and I started to tumble with my bike. As I was about to make a serious accident (which happened a couple of times) in split second I thought that I have to adjust my falling position. Hitting the ground with my shoulder to end up the tumble, so to spread the impact of the fall to my whole back. This happened in split seconds. But with this heavy bicycle I couldn’t manage my fall. I arm was stuck under my body after the first impact and I tumbled 3-4 times and was dragged on the road for a while and stopped at the end.
- I’m sure I have some broken bones, but I’m not aware know yet. It is impossible not to get any damage after this fall. It is better to wait for a while.
One of my ears is on the ground and one of my eyes is looking to the sky.
- Dude, what happened? Why did I have an accident? The road was empty and straight forward.
I stood up. I had a few bleeding scratches, a pain in my chest and some oddness in my left arm. Not broken (usually it is said that if broken it will incredibly hurt. But I had a broken bone and let it encase in plaster after days. This pain issue doesn’t work for me as normal). I removed the dust and dirt on my cloths and went to my bicycle. I hope I didn’t break the front stem through which the fork goes. The bike really tumbled many times flying in the air. I bended to lift the bike from the ground but realized a huge pain in my left wrist. I couldn’t lift and couldn’t hold.
- Dude, what’s this, what happened? It’s not broken, doesn’t seem so. Well, I can do some movements but cannot hold.
Why did I fall, what happened? I’m traveling around the world for the last 8 years and the layout of my panniers on my bike is almost always the same. I use elastic ropes with hook to fix the front panniers to the rack so that they don’t move around while riding on dirt road. Those ropes are of good quality and strong enough to hold the stress. Also, the rim and spokes of the front wheel are thick and strong. One of these hooks loosened and wrapped around the spokes of the front rim in a manner I couldn’t figure out how. Normally, at that speed either the hook or the spikes would break down. Since every piece on the bike is robust and of good quality, not a single piece got broken upon the accident. Therefore, the hook had wrapped around the spikes and locked the wheel. The bicycle tumbled in the air as if it hit an invisible wall. I checked the bike, the panniers, the front stem, every single part since it was a serious accident with this heavy load. Despite of this accident there wasn’t any damage on the bike. As time passed, I got many parts of my body starting to hurt but the pain in my left hand remained and increased. There were 60 km to Puerto Natales where a hospital was. But I could not hold the handlebar. I had used the gauzes in my first aid kit before and hadn’t replaced yet. In some way I have to fix my left hand. I looked around for small branches but couldn’t find. Anyway, I continued to ride without holding the handlebar but putting my elbow on the butterfly handlebar. This is a good advantage of butterfly handlebar in such situations providing an alternative usage.
I couldn’t manage to finish the 60 km and set up my tent in the last bus station before exiting the Torres del Paine road. It was hard to pitch the tent and also to cook. With the stuff I was carrying I made a sling for my left arm and fixed to my body. This relieved me a bit. During night a Columbian motorbiker also came to the station. He also found this spot from Ioverlander app and thought to pitch his tent here. But since I was there he had to camp outside. When I woke up at midnight the pain had increased. Well, since I’m awake let’s go to piss.
(The ones who read my Russia memories would know me. I slept at minus 42 °C in my sleeping bag wearing only shorts and T-shirt). I looked at the thermometer it showed minus 2 °C inside the tent. Outside must be a little cooler. I went out and pissed under the stars. Then, I started to feel dizzy. How come?
- I’m going to blackout.
Slowly I set down on the stones. “Shall I ask for help or not?” “I cannot carry my body anymore, I need to lie back”. At that moment I got a blackout. This was the third time I had a blackout in my life. I’m sure it was related with the pain in my arm. I guess while urinating I got out of balance. I don’t know how long I remained unconscious but outside was chilly and I couldn’t feel my left side when I came to myself. I had never looked at the stars in such a pain. I couldn’t straighten myself up! I was not able to move my body. Then I remembered that my body got injured due one of the accidents I was involved in. I put my hand on the back of my head since I wasn’t remembering that I was lying as such. I must have been fallen and might hit my head on a stone. Anyway, nothing bad had happen. “I need to return to my tent otherwise I’m going to freeze in my shorts and T-shirt”. In some way I managed to get up and go to the tent. I hardly could take a step and was unable to use my left side. During the time I was unconscious the wind was blowing from north to south and I was lying on west to east direction. Therefore, my left side got numb. I started to chatter. I guess it was time to take a painkiller. I don’t like to take medication but after this point I had to. In a very short time this body was involved in too many accidents, it was too much. The next day the pain was less but my left arm was feeling the same.
Entering the Puerto Natales road, I met with paved road once again which made the ride easier. Outside the town was an airfield for propeller planes. While approaching the city a plane flew above my head for a long time and then landed. Then took off again and them landed. I guess the pilot was receiving flight training. This airfield was used to send cargo to neighboring towns and islands.
Puerto Natales was a quiet town in the winter season. Due touristic attractions in the region the number of hostels and hotels was quite high. It was easy to find a store selling products related to cycling and outdoor sports. New bicycle lanes were being built in the town in August 2017. The person who was going to host me in this town was Pelin Asfuroglu (instagram account) and her boyfriend Marco Rosso. They were working as tour guides in Torres del Paine region during summer season.
They were spending the winter hiking in the region. The number of touristic tours was rather low in winter time. Pelin used to work as mountain guide in Turkey before. Then, she came here for holiday and liked this region very much like me and in the end decided to settle (I didn’t come to this point yet)
Furthermore I met with Cem from Turkey who had settled down here many years ago. While Cem was doing rafting sports in Marmaris his brother called him here. “Come here as soon as possible, it is blessing here”. He obeyed his brother and came here I guess. He had worked in this region for years and earned enough. With the money he earned plus the governmental support he bought a 1.5 acres land in Puerto Natales. He built a very nice house on his land. Also one night Pelin and Marco invited me to their home for dinner. Well, I was praising her for the mezes (Turkish appetizers) she prepared, after which a bottle of Raki came to the table. Dude, I came to the end of the world but had a nice night with Turkish food and Turkish music.
The next day we went to the hospital with Cem. X ray was taken and the doc said:
- You are having bone trauma, you need to rest!
- Dude, what does bone trauma mean?
I have had never heard this before. I bought a wrap with platinum support for my wrist. The x-ray and doctor’s fee cost 60 USD. I stayed for 10 days at Pelin and Marco’s home. I’m grateful for their hospitality. But the cats of the house not far from being a Puma (Gandalf and Aragorn) ate the cable of my laptop destroying it completely.
The adaptor of charging device was not a common one to be found everywhere. Thanks to Engin he found it in Santiago and let it sent to Pelin’s home. If I’m not wrong I had paid 120 USD for the cable and cargo fee.
While waiting for my hand to recover and for the cable to arrive Spanish cyclist Javier arrived in Puerto Natales. After a couple of days we set off together. I told him what happened to my hand. That is, it was impossible to speed up as before anymore. While riding together with Javier he was riding 10 km before and I’m behind him and then we were changing the gang. By this way, we were affected less by the head wind and the one behind was able to rest for a while. We became a good team. But now, I had to ride quite slow.
It took us two days to ride from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas the last biggest city of Chile in Patagonia. Then we took a ferry to Porvenir. From there we rode towards Argentinean border.
The biggest duty-free place of the region is in Punta Arenas. I went there in the hope to replace my broken camera with a new one or to find a kindle. Well, the prices of the electronic devices were very cheap but they were 3-4 years old models. It was hard to find newest technology products. The cross through the strait of Magellan by ferry took about 2 hours.
After Porvenir, while heading towards north you come to Y-85 junction. If you take this road you cannot cross to Argentine, but this road is very important since it goes through one of the rare places where you can observe emperor penguins outside Antarctica, on top of it they are there in August. But I didn’t go there because I didn’t want to be on the road and ride anymore. The reason was the pain in my wrist and arm. Although such a long time had passed over the accident I still couldn’t hold the water bottles on my bike. I have to arrive in Ushuaia yet.