Touring Ted

2 wheels & no sense. My Motorcycle travel blog.

Archive for January, 2008

I knew there would be crappy days on this trip to even out the great days. Thats just the balance of life in general… Now i´v been having such a great time that I was due some real crappy luck and bad times. The balance has now been restored. Ill stop talking crap now and fill you on on my last week of misery.

So….,  I left Ushuaia and headed back to Rio Grande where I stayed at the fantastic Hospedaje Argentina with Graciela again. I love it there, so chilled and so many great travellers passing though. After a couple of nights i decided it was time to move on and make my way up the dreaded Routa 40 and the west coast of Chile. The first few days of travelling were good fun, stopping off in Punta Arenas, Puerto Natalas and mucho touristic El Calafate to see the huge glacier which is one of the only moving glaciers in the world…Brilliant !! From El Calafate it was north and to the Routa 40. To those unfamiliar with the routa 40, its a long, barron and dreadful “road” which runs up the west coast of Argentina. Its completly unsurfaced and covered with deep gravel, pebbles, stones and occasioal patches of sand. Along with the strong patagonial wings, its not a nice experience. You have to pick your way through the paths that the trucks leave and prey you arnt blown into a wall of gravel which would probably send you into a crash and tumble…

I battled this road for 220 miles and 6 hours to the next and only petrol station half way up to the next major town… It was empty !! AHHHH. The attendant told me I would have to wait 3 days for fuel. As this depressing news was sinking in, I reached down for my bumbag to look at my map, BUT… !!!!, IT WASNT THERE !! A sense of dread filled my body. My bum bag was gone and everything inside it. This included my Passport, my cash card, 300 pounds in cash, my camera, my V5, my tempory import for the bike, my drivng licence, my spare keys, my map and my notebook with all my contact details that I needed for South America. FUUUUUCK !!

I will tell no lie that I just wanted to cry and nearly did.. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank in an petrol station with no fuel for the next 3 days and my bag with all my essentials lying somewhere on a 220 mile stretch of horrible dirt road…

In terrible Spanish, I tried explaining my prediciment to the owner and he eventually took pity on me and managed to hand pump enough fuel out of the ground to get me back the way I had came. A glimmer of hope at least ! I gave him 60 pesos out of the 100 I had left and turned around looking to the heavens for help.

I rode and and battled the same stretch of 40 over again for another 5 hours and still no sign of my bag. It was a slim chance of me ever finding it in the dirt anyway, especially as you need to keep all your concentration on not crashing..

It was starting to get dark, I was knackered, depressed and running low on fuel again. Just as I thought my life couldnt get worse, a gust of wind blew me into a patch of gravel and I crashed. I was thrown from the bike into the dirt and the bike was burried and the pannier ripped off AGAIN. To add salt to the wound, my petrol can that I had filled up with fuel to get me to the next petrol station had ripped open in the crash and left a nice damp patch in the sand… I have never been so pissed off and angry in my whole life. I would of sold my soul to be back home with a nice cuppa in front of the telly. I checked the bike and thank god, it was still running.. I strapped the pannier to the bike with a ratchet strap and collected by things from off the road.

I looked at my watch and it was 10.30 pm. By that time I was just so fed up and tired, I pulled up on the side of the track, pulled out my sleeping bag and slept in a bush.  I barely got a wink of sleep worrying about what I was going to do. Would I have enough fuel to get me to the petrol station ?, would the petrol station even have fuel ?, would my  credit card let me get cash out ?, would I be able to get back to Buenos Aires for a new passport ?? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

The next morning I packed up my things and made my way down another dirt track to a small town where hopefully there was fuel and thankfully there was !! YAY !! I filled up and rode 180 miles down another crappy road at 40 mph to get me to something which resembled civilization. I pulled up in San Julian on the RTA 3. The same town I stayed at on the way south 6 weeks ago. My credit card gave me a wedge of pesos, i ate for the first time in 30 hours and I finally sighed a breath of relief. I wasnt out of the crap yet but at least I knew I had fuel and cash…

I reported my things lost to the police and made a plan to get back to Buenos Aires, where I can get a new passport, documents and repair my bike.. For the last 5 days I have ridden 6 hours a day to get north. Im now 300 miles away from Buenos aires, Dakar Motos and friendly faces !!!

Im knackerd, smelly , pissed off and skint but as long as there is sunshine and cold beer, ill be cracking on !!

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures. My camera is either burried in gravel or being used by a local farmer to take sexy pictures of his cows !! 🙂


Well everyones been bugging me for a new post so here it is.. As a few of heard, I´ve just got back from Antarctica. I didnt plan to go Antarctica at all, it kind of just happened.

I was still in Ushuaia after new years and a couple of the other guys had been there for Xmas and were showing off their pictures. I had a quick look at their photos and was amazed and decided that it was a once in a lifetime oppurtinity and to hell with the cost. Fellow Brit Mick and Irishan Arthur were also still at the campsite and wanted to go so we made a decision to go nto town and try and pick up a “cheaper” last minute deal. The trips to Antarctica usually go for about 4000-10,000 pounds. WOW ! No way I could afford that so some serious shopping would have to be done.
After about 2-3 days of shopping around we found the last 3 places on a 90 bed ship called the MS Andrea. A Liberian registerd and Croatian/Philipino crewed ship. It was 2200 pounds for a 9 day return cruise. 2 days to cross the infamous Drake Passage, 5 days of landings and 2 days back.

Now, I know your all saying “TWO THOUSAND QUID FOR 9 DAYS” and you´d be right, its bloody expensive but worth every penny. We had luxurious cabins, 3 multi-course waiter served fabulous meals a day and a team of scientists, deck hands and wildlife experets to guide us around the highly controlled and sensitive continent and its islands. The first two days were crossing the Drake Passage and the Beagle channel. One of the roughest and most dangerous stretches of water in the world. 15 metre swells and waves play with the ship and throw you about the ship like its its a funfair. There were actually seatbelts on your bed to stop you being thrown out in your sleep. The last time I was strapped into a bed, i had to pay more than 2000 quid ;)….

As you can imagine, the first night I was pretty sea sick along with most of the other passengers. Its also pretty worrying when your woken up at 3am with the sound of ice crashing into the hull as the ship carves through the summer pack ice. SO, the second day and when we walk out onto deck our jaws dropped. Huge icebergs were floating literally feet away as the Captain and Ice master pick their way between snow capped Volcanic islands and icebergs bigger than a footballers mansion in Cheshire. Birds that you only see on TV circle the ship and the odd pengy pops in and out of the water while you keep your eye out for Whales. One day we were very lucky to be greated by a family of Humpback Whales. They followed the ship, playing and rolling while spraying water out of their blowholes… A once in a life time wildlife experience !! Its hard not to stay out on deck all day looking at the scenery but the icey cold wind keeps you in the bar as much as it can.

While we were sailing between landing points we were given briefings, slideshows and drills about going out into the islands and the continent. Its a highly controlled environment due to sensitive geology and of course the wildlife must not be disturbed. Our excellent guides made sure we knew where we could and could not go whilst giving us history lessons and talks about the penguins, Elehants seals etc. Did you know how many differnt kinds of penguins there are ??? No, either did I but there are frig loads. (They all smell like fish shit though. A sickening smell when your surrounded by thousands of the little blighters).

So we were taken out on inflatable boats to the various different islands 3 times a day for 5 days. We visited so many pengion and seal colonys that I lost track and we also visited the British base, Port Lockroy where I sent a few postcards home !!! I cant give justice to what I saw in words so just look at the pictures !!

As in life, all good things come to an end and before I knew it we were sailing back to Ushuaia all still in awe of our experiences… We arrived back in harbour late in the evening and us non derepid passengers and the crew hit the town for a big party and piss up lasting until 6.30am… I rode out of Ushuaia the same morning with only 45 mins sleep back to Rio Grande ready to cross the border back into Chile and Northward bound……

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So I guess I should write about New years eve down here in Ushuaia. As always, I’m taking life very slow and easy. Iv been here in the Rio Pipo campsite for nearly a week while other bikers and travellers roll in and out, desperate to keep to their dead lines and schedules but I just lie in my tent until I feel like it and take another hour to decide if I can be bothered making breakfast or updating my blog.

Well, I got here 4 days before New Years Eve and a lot of the old gang from Viedma were already here along with other bikers and travellers on the tourist trail in Ushuaia. As always, The bikers hugged, shuck hands and shared a few beers whilst discussing our stops and crashes. As the days rolled on we started preparing for the new years eve party in the campsite refuge. This campsite is pretty good apart from the constant rain and cold but I guess you cant blame the weather on the campsite. In all fairness, we do get the odd bright day but its a rare occurance. They have a large communal area with tables, chairs and a old home made wood burning heater. There’s also a big old professional kitchen that the guests are free to use which is great for our big biker feasts we throw together.

So its new year eve and we are expecting 30 bikers for an Asasdo. I’m volunteered by Gherban as the Asado chef along with with my beautiful assistant Ken, the Aussie guy who’s travelling round the world with his wife Carol.

The day is a fluster of activity as we’re all running around buying steaks, chorizos , booze and salad. Gherban (the Dutch vegetarian chef) is running around making pies, deserts etc with everybody running around helping where they can.  There was other big group having an Asado made for them by the campsite manager so it was Me, Ken and the owner playing with steaks, sausage and fire all evening at the parilla.

After hours of blood, sweat and tears, we all sit down to a monster New years feast. This goes down as the best new years I’ve ever had with the best company you could wish for. We party until 2am with members of nearly every country imaginable. Us hardcore folk made out way into Ushuaia city centre and partied away until 6am which I would write more about if I could remember it 🙂

So, its 4 days after new year and pretty much everybody has left the place. Myself and a couple of the other “take it easy” stragglers have decided to take a trip to Antarctica. It was hard to hand over the substantial amount of cash to do the 9 day tour but when else would you have the opportunity to take a trip to the most untouched and difficult to reach continent in the world.  Until then…………………

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I made my way to Ushuaia a few days before New years eve.  Ushuaia (if you didnt know by now) is the “End of the world”. Its the southermost town in the world and the closest you can get to Antartica without having flippers or a tail.

I took the Routa 3 from Rio Grande and headed the 200 Km to Ushuaia. As I approached the deep south the terrain rapidly changed to snow topped mountain ranges and sweeping moutain road. A real treat to the eyes after the thousands of miles of open praire. This is where to rain and cold hits you. Within a 50 miles, the wind gets worse, it starts raining constantly and the cold rushes down off the moutains. For most a miserable experience but it made me feel right at home coming from the North West of England.

From the twisty mountain roads I roll in Ushuaia. An old fishing town which has seriously cashed in on the Tourism. I make my way to the Rio Pipo where I meet some other bikers and prepared for the party…….:)

 Hold fire for the post on New Years eve and my up and coming trip to Antartica.. YES !! Antartica WOOOOOOO

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