Posted by Sarah on Sunday, October 23, 2011 Strong winds are problematic for a few reasons: we can’t talk to each other at all, we become incredibly exhausted far too easily, our tent has a good possibility of air-lifting, and it is generally an unpleasant, harsh environment to be in for hours on end. After the last leg and what were no doubt the strongest headwinds we had faced, none of us thought it could get any worse. Oh, how wrong we were. Now, we can deal with extremely unpleasant weather condidtions; however, this was beyond insane and there was absolutely nowhere to get even a brief moment of reprieve.  Luckily, we were able to get a good 30km under our belts the first day on our hike to San Sebastian before it really set in. An unfinished beach house provided us with some shelter from the wind during the night before we were hammered with the most forceful winds I have experienced. Our rate of hiking at almost 5km/hr fell to 2.6km/hr and there was a strong probability of just falling over (Washoe Valley, NV has nothing on this stuff). After a VERY slow-moving two hours, we consulted our guiding principles – is this fun? no. Is this uniting us? nope. Is this tranquil? absolutely not. Since we only have one year for this trip, would we rather get to the mountains? hell yea. etc., etc.- and decided to hitchhike to San Sebastian (the Argentina-Chile border station).


standing our ground while hitchin’ a ride happy with the Frenchies in the VW Westfalia 

Due to a wind delay of the ferry which crosses the Straight of Magellan, we spent a good eight hours in the local fisherman’s restaurant/pub hangout where we observed them drink excessive amounts of Chilean beer and play cards while we indulged in heaping piles of fresh sweet crab and warm bread. For those of you who know my food allergies, crab is the only seafood I can eat so what a treat this was!!

muy rica centolla! Some highlights from this unusual stage:
– Realizing that being brave and asking for favors often pays off.
– Not coming even close to running out of food!
– Getting to speak French. And Franish (some odd combination of French and Spanish I created).
– Staying at the most amazing hostel, Hospedaje Independencia.
– Subsequently eating what I consider our best breakfast yet at said hostel – eggs, yogurt, pastries, bread with fresh jams and honey, coffee and juice – for 1,000 pesos ($2.50).
– Discovering that giardia isn’t nearly as nasty as we has assumed.
– Knowing that we can handle anything this trip hands us and that we can make educated decisions about it.
– Actually having time – and energy – to read.
– Quickly driving through the barren, wind-blown area between San Sebastian and Porvenir and feeling great about it.
– Being back in the mountains!
– Meeting Graham, our new British friend, who is bicycling the length of the Andes over 6 months. By himself! Check out his blog here.
– Seeing Trinity form a rather awkward yet loving bond with the hostel cat.
– Getting rid of the nasty, tangly disaster that was my hair.
Some not-so-favorite moments:
– Seeing the result of my hair cut.
– Wind.
– Realizing that turista is setting in…and will be much more inconvenient than giardia.
– Waiting instead of walking (I get antsy super quickly).
– More wind.
– Being awoken in the middle of the night by construction workers getting supplies from the house we were sleeping in (although Trinity was up standing and ready to fight with her mace and trekking pole in 2.5 seconds and Shelley was armed with her knife – albeit stuck in her sleeping bag. I just really wanted to go back to sleep. Fight, flight or …. sleep?)

We are now in Punta Arenas warm, rested and quite well-fed (as per usual in the cities) and are taking a relaxing four to five days to do some corresponding, route planning, potential giardia over-coming, and eating. A package delay has kept us slightly longer than expected, but we are enjoying the break…apparently we walk quicker than the mail is delivered! The next stretch is looking to be quite stunning with mountains and actual trails!  In looking at our route last night we were overwhelmed with the feeling of  not having enough time to hike all that we want (something like “holy crap we only have a year!”). Nonetheless, at the end of the day, it is really just up to us whether we want to continue on via trekking or via alternate means of transportation to get to the next desired destination. I can only imagine how quickly this year is going to go. This journey has already proven itself to be more than we could have ever dreamed, and we cannot wait (although still living in the moment!) to see what the future holds.