Friday, May 27, 2016

More Patagonia Photos

We've been back from Chile for a few weeks now. I've been silent on the blog front because I've been crazy-busy tackling a seemingly endless list of to-dos. Not only have I been catching up on being away from "home" for the last four months, but I've also been busy preparing to be away from home again for the next five months. I only have a small window of time to do all of this catching up and preparation. One thing on my to-do list has been to get a copy of Brian's photos from his camera. I now have Brian's photos, and I've chosen my favorites to share with you.

All of the photos I've posted on my blog thus far from our Patagonia trip have been from my camera. Aside from a few exceptions when I handed my camera to someone else and requested that they take a photo of me, most all of my photos have been of El Mecánico or of scenery. As I am in many of Brian's photos, this post proves that I, too, was in Patagonia.

Take this one, for example:

Me, strumming some tunes.

As you may recall from my To the End of the World post, we had a 22-hour layover in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the trip. We spent many of these hours sitting outside the airport entrance, basking in the sun, reading books, and strumming the guitalele (a cross between a guitar and a ukulele). El Mecánico took a photo of me playing his guitalele. Based on the position of my fingers, I was playing Mumford & Son's "After the Storm." (In case you are interested, there is an awesome set of tabs for this song located here.)

Looking at this photo brings back such fond memories -- of wonderful tunes shared in the first few weeks of the trip, of El Mecánico's frustration that the guitalele strapped to his bicycle wasn't helping him win the battle against the hellacious Argentinian winds, and of the huge smile on Flor's face when Brian gifted her his guitar (see El Chaltén or Bust).

And then there was the photo below. I remember posing for it, but I don't recall what that black stick-like thing was or why I was holding it like a cigarette. I do know that this photo was taken while we were in Tierra del Fuego. How do I know this? Because of the red spot on the tip of my nose and my abnormally voluptuous lips.

This is a remarkably chic photo,
considering I haven't showered in days.

What's with the nose and the lips? The nose is the result of the sun. Despite my regular applications of 50 SPF, the sun was remarkably harsh in the southern regions of South America. I recall developing a blister, followed by a scab, followed by a painful, tender red spot. May skin cancer please not be in my future!

And the voluptuous lips? Well, El Mecánico and I referred to our plump'n'peeling lips as "Tierra del Fuego Lips." Though, in reality, our lips had swollen to only about 150% of their usual size, we felt as though we had ginormous monkey lips on our faces. Our Tierra del Fuego Lips developed on the second day of our trip and only disappeared a few days after we left that miserable island of nothingness. I'm not entirely sure what caused the Tierra del Fuego Lips. It was a probably a result of exposure to the sun and wind, coupled with dehydration. I do know, though, that I never fathomed that a bike ride would result in such a cosmetic alteration. On the bright side, it was cheaper than undergoing lip augmentation.

Speaking of the wind, the photo below alludes to the strength of the Fuegian winds.

Either it is really windy or I haven't had my daily V8 juice.

I was amazed that I could stand at such an angle and not fall flat on my face. I, of course, had heard and read about the demoniacal winds in Patagonia, but until you stand at a near 45° angle in these winds, it just doesn't seem logically possible that winds could blow so fiercely.

Whereas I tend to drift into my head when I'm riding my bike, El Mecánico has an excellent knack for constantly scanning the scene, in search of interesting sights. While I was likely deep in a fantasy about washing my hair or eating a pizza, El Mecánico spotted and photographed a skeleton that had been attached to a gate post. This photo perfectly summarizes why we referred to Tierra del Fuego as "Tierra de la Muerte," as explained in Crossing Tierra del Fuego.

A decorated fence post in Tierra de la Muerte.

You may recall from that same blog post about crossing Tierra del Fuego that we spent a night with our tents tucked underneath a big boulder. The rock seemed entirely out of place. It seemed as though it had been dropped by the side of the road just for us -- at the perfect moment when we had reached the point of exhaustion for the day.

Here is our tent underneath the rock. As you may recall, I had climbed up the rock earlier in the evening and had found a great place to sit out of the wind at the base of the cross. It was a seat with a million-dollar view of the sunset.

Sunset illuminates our camping spot,
which is sheltered from the wind and blessed by the cross.

Brian took this candid shot of me in Porvenir. I'm sitting atop a slide in the town's playground, busily typing a blog post on my iPad.

Engrossed in writing a blog post.

In The Three Chilean P-Towns, of which Porvenir was one of the three P-towns, I wrote about how we needed to wait a day for the ferry to take us across the Straits of Magellan. Being frugal (read: "adventurous") travelers, we opted to spend the night sleeping outside of the ferry terminal.

I'm usually sensitive to light when I sleep; as soon as I sense light on my eyelids, I waken. I must have been really tired from our battle with the Fuegian winds, because El Mecánico was able to snap a photo of me still sleeping, despite the daylight.

Me, bumming it on a bench at the ferry terminal in Porvenir.

Remember La Casa Rosada from the El Chaltén or Bust post? It was the abandoned pink house located somewhere in the 215-km stretch between the Argentinian towns of El Calafate and El Chaltén. Bicycle tourists use the house as shelter and have decorated the walls with graffiti.

One of the bedrooms in La Casa Rosada had a very simple wooden bed frame. When we visited the pink house, a footprint for someone's tent was draped across the bed. I recall noticing the footprint and assuming that someone had likely put the footprint underneath himself before sleeping on the bed for the night. I also assumed that said person had likely forgotten to pack his footprint when he left and was now cursing this oversight.

Well, when I was flipping through El Mecánico's photos, I busted out laughing when I saw his photo of the bed. The angle from which Brian took the photo emphasizes the rope-like lashings attached to the footprint. I certainly hadn't envisioned a bondage scenario when I had walked through the room, but now I couldn't erase the image from my mind!

A bondage scene at La Casa Rosada.

One of the bathrooms, none of which were functional, in La Casa Rosada was completely trashed. El Mecánico took a number of photos of the bathroom. I took none, because, well, it's a bathroom. But, thanks to Brian, we now have memories of La Casa Rosada's baño. Seeing the bathroom brings about an even larger tidal wave of fond memories.

The cleaning staff is long overdue at La Casa Rosada.

Since we're on the topic of potties, and since the aforementioned blog post describes the challenges of urinating in the wind, I thought I'd share the below photo. I took the photo using El Mecánico's camera. Let's just say that the subject in the photo was a traveling companion of mine, who will remain nameless.

As the trip progressed, our fat stores became depleted. We became skinnier and our clothes became looser. With time, poor Nameless's pants creeped further and further down his waistline. As a belt didn't make the packing list cut, the pants eventually creeped so far to the south that they revealed a crack. Silly me -- I had no idea that men with tiny asses even had butt cracks!

The cutest butt crack I've ever seen.

I believe it was shortly after this photo was taken that Nameless person had the wise idea to fashion a belt out of a compression strap.

Nameless's butt wasn't the only butt on El Mecánico's camera; mine was as well. In all fairness, I'll share my butt photo, too. But, first, some background is needed.

Carmel, in Spanish, is called "dulce de leche." In Chile, it's called "manjar," because Chilean Spanish doesn't make any sense. Anyway, dulce de leche is a common condiment in South America. We bought our first container of dulce de leche in Patagonia, because it was one of the few things on the grocery shelves that was truly calorie-dense. When we had our first taste of dulce de leche, we were in heaven. We quickly devoured the entire container of carmel. But after our second container, we tired of the sugar. Later on, we'd go in spurts of liking the carmel and not liking it.

In Chile and Argentina, certain food products are commonly sold in foil-like packets. For example, marmalade rarely comes in a jar; it is usually sold in a packet. Bulk items, such as mustard, are similarly packaged. Though we could buy mustard in a normal-sized squeezable plastic container, we'd go through a container of mustard in about two days. And so we started buying mustard in bulk one kilo packs. (Keep in mind that one kilo is equal to 2.2 pounds. Yes, readers, we bought mustard in 2.2 pound packages.) Once we emptied the squeezable mustard container, we refilled the container using the mustard from the packets.

Dulce de leche was also sold in bulk in large packets. And so we likewise got in the habit of refilling the empty tub of carmel from the foil pack. Here I am squeezing carmel from the foil pack into the empty carmel tub. Given that El Mecánico is a boy, and given that boys think about poop all the time, El Mecánico couldn't resist taking this photo of me.

Squeezing carmel between my cheeks.

Fortunately, El Mecánico's boyish mind can be overlooked because he's also capable of romantic moments. For example, Brian captured this shot of our shadows as we stopped to admire Mount Fitz Roy in the distance.

Our shadows, admiring Mount Fitz Roy.

El Mecánico can also be forgiven for his poopy boyish-ness because he has a serious, Buddha-like quality. Strapped to Brian's handlebars was a hood ornament, of sorts -- a Little Purple Buddha. I particularly love the photo below of Little Purple Buddha, with a hint of snow-peaked mountains in the background.

Little Purple Buddha is happy because he's getting a free ride.

For the record, Little Purple Buddha sat in a perfect meditative state during our entire trip, even as Brian and I cursed the m*#her f^@king wind. Lucky for Little Purple Buddha, he didn't have to pedal one damn bit! Freeloader!

There were a number of immensely picturesque ferry rides on our trip. Bikes, Ferries, and Views -- Oh My! describes my favorite section of our trip, the trek from El Chaltén to the start of the Carretera Austral. I love this photo that Brian captured of me admiring the scenery as our ferry crosses Lago Desierto. The peaks were stunning!

Me, in absolute awe.

And I really like this photo, too. It's one of the few trip photos of both Brian and me.

One of the few shots of Brian and me.

Do you recall that 21-km stretch of No Man's Land between the Argentina and Chile border, as marked between Points B and C on the Bikes, Ferries, & View's map? The first 7-km of the stretch was a hellaciously steep footpath. As the trail was not bike-friendly, we needed to push our bikes along the steep, rutted path. To mitigate the weight of our bikes, we transferred some of our heavier gear to our backpacks.

In the blog post, I included a few snapshots of Brian pushing his bike along the trail. But now I have visual proof that I was part of the sufferfest, too!

Shirley is a beefy girl,
especially when she needs to be lifted up and over a deep root
in the middle of an already ridiculously steep path. 

"Wheels: please, please, please
stay on the log!"

Shirley gets to swim across a stream.

Fortunately, our grueling experience through No Man's Land was rewarded with another even-more-beautiful ferry ride across Lago O'Higgins (point D on the aforementioned map). This was the ferry that deposited us at the official start of the Carretera Austral.

The wind may be cold, but it's a small price to pay for pristine views.

Remember the roadside refugio from our first day of riding along the Carretera Austral? While I wouldn't expect you to remember all of the roadside refugios, there certainly weren't many of them in the remote regions along the Carretera. As described in Finally Starting the Carretera Austral, other cyclists had told us about the refugio. The shelter couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time, as the rains and our hunger were intensifying, simultaneously reaching a need-to-deal-with-now peak.

Common of many roadside shelters in the far reaches of South America, there was an alter in the back corner of the refugio. You can see the Jesus figure over my right shoulder, as well as the remnants of candles burned to the very ends of their wicks.

Me and Jesus.
I am myself, and so I should be fairly well-versed in my own facial expressions.
But, I'm not entirely sure how to read this expression.

And then there was the glorious morning ride after seeing The Boardwalks of Caleta Tortel. There was a thick layer of fog surrounding the mountain tops. Godlight was struggling to peek through the clouds. For a few minutes, a rainbow even graced the sky. I remember the morning well as we Contin[ued] Along the Carretera Austral; it was my birthday. I was happy to see that Brian had captured a photo of me riding through the beautiful morning.

Riding through a mystical morning.

There were a lot of crazy climbs as we biked along the Andes. Brian is a much stronger rider than me, and so he often rode ahead. On one particular climb, El Mecánico whizzed past me as I choked on his dust. He pedaled, and he pedaled, and he pedaled until he was waaaay ahead of me. Fortunately, he was able to capture a photo of me ascending the steep and windy hairpinned road.

Can you spot the little dot coming around the first curve?
That's me!

As we biked further'n'further north along the Carretera Austral, we encountered more'n'more towns and more'n'more people. Stealth camping spots became harder'n'harder to find. Our last night before Our Stay in Coyhaique, we slept aside a pile of trash at the top of a roadside trail. There were three televisions at our camp spot. The TVs actually came in handy -- as kickstands. Here is Brian's bike leaning against one of the televisions. I don't think I've ever seen a photo of a bicycle reflected in a TV screen. Bonus points for originality!

Brian uses a television as a kickstand for his bicycle.

Thank you for taking these photographs, Brian. And thank you for letting me share them on my blog.

Making memories makes me smile.

As many of you know, my memory is atrocious. I write this blog primarily for my own benefit, so I can remember the things I've done -- the places I've been, the people I've met. Because my memories are so ephemeral, photos are extremely valuable in reviving memories that have been buried in the deep recesses of my brain.


  1. Pictures and memories to cherish!

  2. Where to start where to start...

    You looking at the sky on the ferry may be my favorite picture of you. Love it!

    The together shadows is very sweet, he did a great job there.

    I think those photos of you pushing and going uphill may be the best summary of the entire trip, AND that picture of you bundled up and typing shows people being a blogger aint for sissies!

    Very fair of you sharing your tush as well, I must say though my first thought was cute butt! then I read the carmel part and looked again and giggled "POOP!!!" My instant comment for his though way "AHHHH!!! MANASS!!!!!"

    finally, I agree with the reason for the blog. I share it because I suck at journaling, but I love blogging, the fact that people like what I share is even better. You know I love what you share!

    Thank you Brian for letting Sarah share these!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tony. It's always fun to read them...especially when your comments are nearly as long as my post. Ha! :)

    2. Well you know me, I can be a bit chatty :) OH and the 45 degree angle is very cool! I've had the chance to do that a time or two in my travels

  3. PS I didn't know you played guitar... You always manage to surprise me!

    1. Anyone can play the guitar. All you need to do is hold down the strings at one end of the guitar and strum the strings at the other end. Silly Tony! ;)

    2. I have tried that.... Somehow doesn't sound like playing when I do it...

  4. Was really intrigued by the winds photo and did some digging around to understand how come they're so damn strong in that region. Turns out it's called the Roaring Forties (, caused when warm air from the equator meets cold air traveling North from Antarctica - pretty wild!

    1. Leave it to Rodica to figure out the "whys." :) Thank you for the research. Pretty wild indeed!


I would love to hear your comments on this post!