... and a new one begins, in Ushuaia, ARG
In the first few days of the year, the majority of the travellers who'd camped at Rio Pipo over the festive season slowly got back into travel mode, packed up, and headed off to continue their adventures. Over the intervening 3 weeks, there've been a few Brazilian bikers here at times, but none of them spoke English, and as I don't speak any Portugese, conversation was virtually non-existent.
Three of the travellers (2 British and 1 Irish) were fortunate to get cheapish standby tickets on a ship to Antarctica, departing on 10 January, returning on 18 January. They, also, are now singing the praises of the White Continent and its stunning wildlife and scenic majesty.
Waking on the morning of the 5th January, the early risers were faced with SNOW. Our "barometer", the mountain behind Ushuaia to the north whose peaks are among the first to be snowcapped before then melting rapidly in the bright sunshine, was now freshly covered, as were others surrounding the town. And it had been snowing during the morning at the campground, although it was all gone by the time I emerged from my tent. Generally, the weather is pretty good, about 5-10C most of the time, pleasant enough to wear a tee-shirt, unless the wind is whipping through the river valley and flailing through the treetops. Occasionally there is a sprinkle of rain, but nothing really heavy, cold or prolonged, just enough to make the river beside my campsite change to a muddy brownish-red, instead of the usual green. Nightime temperatures are above 0C, I'd say.
MotoPablo, the bike mechanic favoured by travellers in Ushuaia, was unable to source a water pump seal kit for me from BA-BMW, so the order was finalised with Motobins, in the UK, on 9 January. I wonder how long it will take to get here?
The bike is still "rideable", in that I can ride the 4kms into town to do shopping [and to keep the battery charged for my tent light] every 2-3 days, keeping a very close watch on the level of the coolant. To do this, it's necessary to remove the side panels off the bike, therefore I leave them off for ease of checking and filling the radiator, so it looks a bit daggy, to say the least! But I'm still fairly limited as to where I can ride to, as I don't want to cook the engine accidently. So no trips to the Parque Nacional or up to the glacier above the town, or any other "touristy" places. However, in the interests of healthy exercise, I even managed a walk into town one day, but taxied back with the shopping bags.
There are lots of lovely birds here in the park. Myriads of rusty brown hawk-like birds, a few of which are not as timid as most, and wander around near the tents. I finally managed to sneak some photos of a pair of beautiful ibis-like water birds on the river bank near my tent, having seen them around the park occasionally, but never when I had the camera with me. They were most uncooperative and flighty, so I had to sneak up behind thin tree trunks to get close enough, even with a 10x zoom lens. A large multicoloured hawk/eagle landed on a branch near my tent, but again, it wasn't really close enough for photos, unfortunately.
If one MUST be forced to wait somewhere for parts to arrive, it's better to be somewhere comfortable, with all services (kitchen, diningroom/refuge, laundry, endless hot water in very clean showers, internet, etc) and cheap, which this park certainly is. Being close to the city is another bonus.
So I sit here, day after day, bored silly, waiting, waiting for the parts to arrive. I've read every English language book in the small camp library. I want to get back on the road!