It’s a long time since I set off on a proper trip, one wholly unrelated to work and with no aim other than the travelling itself. And it’s a great feeling to be travelling with my son, away from his work and family commitments for a couple of weeks. It’s going to be good, and I’m really looking forward to it.
I’m travelling down Argentina’s legendary Ruta Nacional 40 and coming back up the Atlantic coast. With side trips (and getting lost once in a while) my whole trip will be about 6000 km in total. That is longer than the entire RN40 (5.140 km) – once I get to the southernmost point of South America I have of course to turn round and come back. To provide a little perspective, the distance between Madrid and Moscow is only 3417 km; New York to Los Angeles 4139 km and Buenos Aires to Bogotá 4649 km. I’ve been saving up for the fuel!
The road surfaces will range from freshly surfaced blacktop to long abandoned dirt and gravel roads, but I am confident that our Jeep, hereby christened ‘Silver’ in honour of the Lone Ranger’s horse, will cope. I hope, anyway. Recently serviced, with spanking (and hideously expensive) new tyres and the roof laden with spare tyres and jerry cans of petrol (petrol stations can be 800kms apart and then be out of petrol!) we’ve done what we can – a fifteen year old vehicle can be problematic, but we are gung ho. Sort of.
Way back in 1974 I travelled to Skarsvåg, a township (village, really) in Nordkapp, Norway. The northernmost settlement in continental Europe. Forty years later I am aiming to get to Ushuaia, the southermost city in Latin America and then (just to be sure as Ushuaia could be said to be on an island) driving on to Punta Arenas and then south to Port Famine and then even further south, as far as possible, into the Magellan Strait. (Yes, I know that Puerto Williams on the Island of Navarino is even further south but I can see no way of getting there that would not involve a long sea journey. And there are settlements even further south –on Antarctica– but we have to draw the line somewhere).
We leave Thursday morning, 30 October, early. I’ll be blogging the journey, day by day, although it is unlikely that I’ll be able to upload every day given the remoteness of where we are going. If you live in urban Europe or North America it is hard to comprehend the vastness of Patagonia. As Chatwin and Theroux have pointed out, time spent there reminds one that ‘nowhere is a place’.
Next blog at end of day one (we hope).