Tuesday 13/11 38km to Tres Cerros. Total = 24,049km for 570 road days.
In Tres Cerros YPF 24 hour gas station on their wi-fi. Think I will be working through the night!Gotta rush will update rest of the pictures next time!
I had a very nice evening in San Antonio Oeste with Natalio and Monica.
I was told that the radio interview I did there for Natalio’s radio station went down well and they repeated it on another show later the next day! Also did a television interview and never heard anything about that. We sat around the dinner table me on my laptop talking to them. The laptop is great for situations like this as they know I have a serious workload. Had I not got the laptop it would have been anti social out in the next room.
While Monica was washing my huge laundry bag she told me about a Chinese sailor that got hurt. His company just abandoned him in San Antonio Oeste. Monica being a good hearted woman and a nurse housed him in her home, fed the sailor and nursed him back to full fitness. The tragedy of this situation was that the sailor had no family back in China. Eventually the community had a collection to send the poor man back to China. She showed me a letter he sent her thanking her so much and how grateful he was to the community. He had gotten a job in a factory and was delighted with his $100 a month feeling he was getting his life back on track.
That letter was in English and I slipped up in not photographing it for the blog as it was so touching. I mentioned before in the update that I was having a problem with my camera and Danielas brother bought me a new camera, kind man, thank you so much Facundo
It goes without saying that I had a serious late nights work, up till after 3am. I was shattered next morning as I promised Daniela, a vice principal in the local school that I would give a ‘ motivation talk ‘ to about 40 ‘ problem children .’ Many of the children were from broken homes drug and alcohol dependency problems.
I was told that many of the children unfortunately had given up on learning and wondered why they needed to learn for example English.
I found them to be a lovely bunch of kids, some of their questions about the run were interesting wondering how I avoided injury, if I ate yogurt and if we drank mate in Ireland! After the talk I had breakfast of milk and bread with dulce de leche with the children in the schools canteen.
Just like a dog... Always where the food is!
So it was back to Natalio and Monicas house for lunch. Natalio cooked an asado in my honor saying that Sunday was the traditional asado day in Argentina and only during the weekdays for special occasions.
Monica and Natalio, just one of my Argentine families
So it was a very late afternoon start that afternoon out of town that day. I managed 35km before getting to a gas station where I initially planned to stop for just an hour, that was till I fell asleep at the table and that was that nights accommodation sorted!
It was probably just as well I got that sleep that night as I needed it next day, October 25th 2012 and the second anniversary of the run. I had hoped to make it to Sierra Grande for a celebration meal but it was just too far. Still I gave it a good shot with a 76km and record-breaking distance for a day on the run. the nights are really nice now, and when I can I usually avoid putting up my tent as it makes getting away in the morning so much easier. So my reward for the record run was to sleep under a bridge! No big deal really.
A couple of good distance days before crossing from Rio Negro to Chubut province.
Thank goodness Chubut’s local government believes in hard shoulders as I am now running on a paved 1 meter shoulder, fantastic!
A couple of days later I ran into the nice port town or small city of Puerto Madryn and stayed at the Che Patagonia backpackers hostel. I met Lauren a French vet who was travelling around South America with his wife, also a vet. They quit their jobs to travel for a few months.
” Always plenty of jobs in France for vets that like to work with the ‘ big animals ‘ as he called them.
” The big animals are anti-social and not many vets want to work with them. ”
They worked in the Congo for a while as volunteers.
I took a rest day here in Puerto Madryn and both nights headed for an eat as much as you like buffet which included steaks, Chinese food, salads and deserts! I guess they were my celebration meals for the second anniversary of the run, many thanks to Tom Denniss for sponsoring those great meals
I couldn’t believe it when I ran a great 60km from Puerto Madryn to Trelew. A lovely day with a tailwind and a 4 lane divided highway.
Stopping in a service station I got talking to Fabian who was wearing a ‘ Falklands Islands Fire Fighters ‘ tee-shirt. Many Argentines get upset by even the mention of Falkland for what they consider their Malvinas islands which as they say the British stole from Argentina and now govern .
Fabian tells me that he was born there ( yet speaking no English) he now drives a truck for a living out of Buenos Aires. His mother still lives on the islands. Fabian told me that the Falkland islanders want to have absolutely nothing to do with Argentina. Argentina used to contribute much to the islanders welfare but now do nothing.
Halloween and I am back making faces again as I push Nirvana up the seemingly never-ending hills. Now the wind is against me and it was to be this way for almost a week, except for one hour.
One day I stopped for a piss, yes with the wind behind me and the piss pissed back up onto my face, Ugh!
I keep getting smacked by so hard, like a boxer taking body blows, I duck, turn sideways and still get it. Then a truck comes from behind, giving me a much loved and short-lived jump start, till another comes towards me and knocks me back. I wonder about the g forces I am withstanding.
I put in long, hard, difficult days and plod on day into evening and even the night. I am making great progress but it’s tough, very tough. I fight on. Some evenings there is less wind, but not always, either way I just run on, run as best as I can. pushing Nirvana is very tough on my wrists, I wonder and worry about tendinitis of my wrists, always something.
At the side of the road a truck driver is stopped for a siesta, I knock on his door and ask for water. He is half naked and just points down to a water tank he has bolted to the chassis. I fill up with 4 litres, nice one!
My left ankle was a bit sore that night. I been averaging almost 60km these last three days. The shorter my days are the longer I am in this Godforsaken place, always looking for more food and water, nothing to do only run, run, run for the scenery is boring, almost the same since Cordoba and still a long way down to the bottom of the world and Ushuaia.
A woman jumped out of her car on the opposite side of the road, just in front of me. She heads over in my direction. Thinking she wants to take my picture I smile, introduce myself to her and tell her what I am doing.
” Really? ” She says and stops just behind me to take a photo of what I just don’t know! I stared out at the semi barren landscape to see what could have prompted her to do this, of all the places in Patagonia, the same as it has been for over a thousand kilometres and nearly two thousand more!
That night I stopped and slept in a concrete culvert under the road. They are a decent size, always large enough for me to wheel Nirvana in.
I cooked pasta and slept with my feet elevated on some of my gear to improve blood circulation and recovery as I have many times in an ultra race when taking a nap.
Next morning the ankle is fine.
I make it to the next gas station which has a restaurant attached. An unsmiling man is the owner and woman prepares me a terrible sandwich which was supposed to be a warm milanesa sandwich. Its cold, reminded me of Peru and this so far was the only crap food I have eaten here in Argentina, just the meat on bread and mayonesa, no salad or tomato, and worse still I reckon it was the most expensive sandwich I ever ate at almost $10.
Long distances and sometimes just a couple of gas stations or a small town in between.
In rushes a woman, I think she is American. She has a hired car and a slow puncture, she is in a panic and obviously stressed. The man just looks at her and tells her he has no air compressor. I tell her to hang on that I got a bicycle pump! She thinks I am mad and rushes out and drives up the highway. I tried to tell her I did this before as my Service manager, Dennis Hedderman will testify!
You see I was serving my time as a photocopier technician for CTL in Dublin. I used to go in and out of the office on my bicycle and travel around doing service calls with Dennis.
One Friday at rush hour in Dublin’s Christchurch we got a soft tyre. I remembered I had my bicycle pump in my bag on the back seat so I jumped out of the car and pumped it up while a mortified Dennis burried his Afro head in the steering wheel!
The cars honked and honked and I just smiled and waved! We were laughing at this for years after! Dennis fancied himself as a striker for Dearpark United! he also fancied the secretary at Nottingham Forest Football Club. Another story there!! Anyone know Dennis or would like to give CTL a call and tell him I wrote this I would get a great kick out of it! Not to mention the man that looked the splitting image of a Shamrock Rovers star striker. One day they both met and the striker asked him if anyone ever told him he looks like him!
” Yes all the women I score with, I score more than you! ”
Yes that was another of Dennis tales I still laugh at on the road from time to time.
Before leaving I got talking to two documentary makers who more or less agreed with Fabian about Malvinas. I asked them how the islanders got their mail as surely there are no direct flights to Port Stanley from Europe or the USA. Via Punta Arenas in Chile, I was told.
Another big day, all 63km of it even with my many stops. I found a flag pole a few days for my Irish flag a few days ago and put my Irish flag on it that morning. Within about half an hour of starting I got stopped by Stephane and his wife Anne from France in their motor home which they shipped over from France for their two year trip through the Americas.
Stephane and Anne
They plan on going up as far as Alaska. They are travelling with their two young children as Anne is a teacher and home-schools the children, nice one. They make me coffee and more water and snacks for the road. I couldn’t help wondering if they stopped because of the Irish flag.
Classroom in the motor home
Still smarting at yesterdays sandwich I stop at another gas station/restaurant. The meal I ate was delicious and plentiful. The owners name is Daniel.
Thank you Daniel!
He gives me 2 sandwiches and a large bottle of water for the road also a smile I will long remember, a smile many Argentines have given me that simply says I just want to help you.
Only 13km further south there was another gas station, so near it hardly counted in this wilderness. Though still satisfied from my delicious meal I stopped for the human inter reaction. More smiles and hot and cold water for the road.
The wind is really bad now and it’s really cold, still I run on and on through this emptyness, this never changing vista, on and on it goes, sorry Argentina is not winning any beauty contests with me now.
As I head deeper and deeper into Patagonia just like in the Arizona and California desert people are stopping me more and more to give me food and drinks. Today a man gave me a small amount, just a little but with a big smile. I didn’t need it but he was delighted to help and didn’t want to spoil his glow. He got out of his car with the bottle so that was his intention when stopping, not just an after thought, that gesture will live on for me,often it’s the small stuff that makes the most impression.
Then just as I was thinking of a roadside brew another man stops to see how I am. He is concerned as darkness is approaching. No worries, I am well lit up. I ask him for water and he asks me hot or cold. Hot I say, so he fills my thermos from his. Saves me getting out the stove and pot.
Next day and I am not liking Mondays as it’s been the toughest day so far. Four hours gone and less than 15km to show for it wind battered and if there were any snails dumb enough to be out that day we would have an interesting race. I always seem to be going up and those annoying yellow and black signs telling you you are now climbing, like I never would have guessed, they rarely descend.
I stop for some reason and Carlos and Alejandro stop their bus and give me FOUR meals they give out on their bus!
Carlos and Alejandro.
And a 2 litre bottle of Sprite. So I sit down to scoff two which have two nice steaks each. How to eat steak with a plastic knife and fork in a howling wind? With your fingers!
Finger licking delicious!
Barely 500 metres up the road Laurent from the hostel in Puerto Madryn with his wife Lisa and friends stop in their motor home and give me about 4 litres water.
Thank you Lisa, Laurent, Isabelle and Jean
Then 4 km further on up the road when I have a restaurant in my sights a man stops to give me a delicious sandwich and another large bottle of Sprite.
So I make it to the restaurant in Pampa Salamanca and am not thirsty or hungry but still stop. Bottles are falling off Nirvana, I got so much and my food bag is crammed! I just order a coffee and sip it. The restaurant is very busy. Everyone is looking at my Irish flag and think I am Italian. They must wonder why I just run 100km from the last rest stop and not eat, just drink a coffee!
Later it rains, not much just drizzle so I stop early after just 49km and dry off some wet clothes which I have hung up on Nirvana in my cozy culvert. I cook some cuppa soup before sleeping.
I tried to have an easier day for my run into Comodoro Rivadavia but when I stopped yesterday it was at the top of a hill and raining so this left me 41km. It was a great day and as the road turned to the south-east I finally got that easterly wind at my back along with a great downhill of about 16km.
About 17km from Comodoro I was really zooming down that hill, faster than anytime here in Argentina and was annoyed that a police officer tried to stop me at a checkpoint.
It turned out to be just a welfare check to see if I needed any water and wanted to rest in his office. Just then a man comes over and he is holding packages.
I think he is selling cd’s like they do in the poorer countries at such places. I tell him I don’t want any cds and feel like adding especially if you got Bob Seger’s ’ AGAINST THE WIND ‘ Press > PLAY
When I was as far north as Canada, I thought I might say that here
It turned out he was another busman and was handing me SEVEN trays of meat salads!
With that three of them blew out of his hand and over into a ditch. So I go running after them while they give me a look as if to say… ‘ but you still got four here! ‘
I know and now I got seven.
In I went to the police office after thanking the driver also and taking a photo. I love the water coolers here as the water from the red tap is hot water, ideal for a thermos of tea! So I scoffed four meat salads as I have a storage issue on Nirvana, problem solved.
Next in line! The red tap is for hot water great for coffee or thermos filling whenever I see one I fill up
On I ran into Comodoro Rivadavia where people continue to be incredibly friendly. That night I spent the whole night working on logistics and my backlog on this service stations wi-fi. No rest for the wicked! Besides surprisingly there was no backpackers hostel here. Hotels were 220 pesos and at 4 to the dollar you can see just how incredibly expensive Argentina is. It would have been a waste of money anyway as I just needed to work.
These men rushed away from their meals and insisted on helping me with an issue I was having. Thanks Lads!