Ma. 22 – Rio Mayo to Fitz Roy

2009 April 22
by joe

We do the morning routine, and gas up on our way out of town. The gas station attendant has to put down his matte cup to pump our gas.  We soften up the tires for the gravel road ahead. Then we leave town by climbing up out of the hole that Rio Mayo is in, back up onto the desert above.

The road waiting for us is way worse than I had hoped or expected.  No fun.  Most of the 60 miles to Perito Morenos is torn up for construction.  The roadway we had to travel is not really gravel in most spots, but rather mostly rocks the size of baseballs, and sand.  The wind is a constant presence, making it even harder to keep the bike pointed where you want it.  Impossible to make any sort of time,  it takes us 3-1/2 hours to go the 60 miles from Rio Mayo to Perito Morenos.  Totally desolate,  empty desert,  with no relief at all.  Barely getting to 30 mph in the good spots. My neck and shoulders are sore and screaming from the tight grip I needed to keep to stay upright.  I stopped a dozen times at least to rest my body and catch my breath.  It is 2:00 pm when we finally reach civilization in Perito Morenos.

We eat lunch, again, in the gas station, as everything else in town is closed, being Sunday.  After much discussion, we at last agree that it will be best if we divert east from here, and then take a paved road south, rather than continuing south on Ruta 40 from where we are. It means going many extra miles out of our way, and changing the  timing for our plans for seeing the sights in southern Chile, but to continue south on the road we are on would mean at least another 3-4 days of traveling at 100-150 miles a day, and winding up in places where we would have a tough time finding places to stay.  I believe we made the right choice by moving east and speeding up the long trip through southern Argentina.

The ride east is no picnic, either. High quartering winds, and very desolate, isolated landscape. We encounter lots of wild llama, called Guanaco (, on the road. We pass through a section of oil-producing country.  Towards dark, we pass through a tiny town named Fitz Roy, and keep going thinking that the next town on the map will be larger and have more to offer.  We are wrong;  when we get to the next town, it is just a few residential streets, without a single public building that we can  identify.  It is already dark, and cold and windy, but we have to backtrack a ways to Fitz Roy, and search out a hostel.

Even though the town of Fitz Roy only has 5 streets, and maybe 100 buildings, it takes us more than a few tries to find lodging.  We finally do secure a room in the back of a store, unload, and go off in search of food.  We find a real restaurant on the main street, only to discover that we are too early for dinner.  Now that we are back in Argentina, many places do not have dinner until after 8:00 pm!  So we relax and have a beer, waiting until the owner comes back around and tells us what is available that night.  We both order, unsure what it is we have selected.  As it turns out, we get the first decent meal we have seen in several days.

Back at our ‘hotel’, we discover that Levi’s lap-top has taken a beating on the bad roads today, and does not want to startup.  After some coaxing and some words of encouragement from Levi, it does come back up, but is not well.  We shoot some pool on a table in a room next to our sleeping room, smoke a cigar to celebrate our good fortune, and then sleep though a cold, rainy, windy night.

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