Eddie Izzard would be proud of us. Our training regime goes from bad to worse.
After fourteen days of pulling on ropes and barely walking 50 feet a day, whilst sailing through driving wind, rain and hail in Chile’s channels; we’ve decided we should shake a leg and run. Plus our visas are about to expire.
So, we’ve headed our old boat’s nose inland; an extraordinary sensation of crossing the Andes through a maze of watery fjords and have arrived into Puerto Natales, apparently the drier side of Patagonia- benefiting from the Andes rain shadow.
Well it looks pretty parched, with brown scorched grassland rolling as far as the eye can see and considering that this side of the Andes receives less than 400mm of precipitation a year, whilst the western side receives over 4000mm, it’s not surprising that it’s a little on the charcoaled side.
The problem has been exasperated by Chile’s and Argentina’s lust for leňa (fire wood) as an answer to oil and gas, leaving a graveyard of charred root balls scattered over the prairie landscape. Add to this fiery concoction, ranks of formidable sheep’s, horses’ and cattle’s gnashes and you have a pretty denuded landscape, with barely a bush in site. If you have ideas about cajoling a tree or shrub back into these howling lands, without the shelter of his own kind for protection, you might have to think again.
Thus we find ourselves in a Wizard of Oz type of landscape, running an endless 16 mile road to the Argentinian border. Fence posts, telegraph wires, shacks and sheds pepper the landscape. A trio of gauchos even make an appearance adding conviction to the Patagonian picture. I feel distinctly ‘wooden’ as I potter on, no doubt a result of the lack of stretching recently. Mental note- DO more yoga and star jumps. Dave, however, looks like a gazelle as he springs ahead.
But what I haven’t expected is quite this intensity of weather on a Summers Patagonian day. I am Brit, weather is an important topic of conversation, but this nonsense would bring to a holt the hardiest of gossipers:
- First, an immense black cloud blots out the sky.
- Next, driving storm force winds and rain lash at us horizontally, buckling our knees.
- Then sun strikes through the clouds and we trot listening to long-tailed meadow larks twittering.
- And of course the wind again, more furious than ever. We can barely step forward. A motorcyclist is nearly horizontal , while a car has to stop. Dave is eyeing a carpet of herbs to lie in. Finally we find a fence baffle and leap behind it along with the local mustang; bent against the raging air.
- Finally to add insult to injury it SNOWS!!!!
I ask you?!
Forget four seasons in one day… four seasons in one hour?!