I?ve stayed at Rio Grande for longer time than I had expected. Fernando and Adrian?s flats turned out to be very comfortable and I really didn?t want to leave but naturally we had to bid farewell in the end. I flung the luggage over my shoulder and went to the other exit of the town that was even more distant than the one from the direction of Ushuaia. Most of the cars were local – after all the traffic going to the continent is measured by a ferry per hour. The ferry itself can not gather more than 6-7 trucks and the same number of cars. Nevertheless, no longer than 50 minutes later a truck STOPPED. STOPPED should be with capital letters because it is an extremely rarely met phenomenon for a truck to stop on the road because of a hitch-hiker. That happened to me barely for the second time.

About a kilometer later there were a boy and a girl standing by the road. To my great bewilderment we stopped and picked them up. I have been given a ride with one more hitch-hiker but never with two. It was a good thing that there was a bed in the truck otherwise it couldn?t happen. The boy and the girl?s names were Alex and Esterelia and they were from France. Their English was not good at all, their Spanish was even worse so we ended up talking in 3 languages at the truck. Even more funny was the fact that I served as an interpreter from Spanish to English and in the end we could not understand each other properly. As far as I managed to find out Alex and Esterelia have read the book of Sonia and Alex Poussin and got inspired to walk Ruta 40 on foot.

Ruta 40 is one of the most famous roads – it stretches on 5000 kilometers all over the length of Argentina. Most of its southern part is a wilderness without populated places and most of its northern part is also… a wilderness. :) But both of them never did any research, they just gathered some money, bought some equipment for two or three weeks and took off. Even at Tierra del Fuego they crashed into reality and reached the conclusion that what they have planned was almost impossible because the distances are brutal, there is no food, no water, practically nothing. And here they were on the truck with me.

The driver Christian was a great dude and his manner of speaking was quite calm and interesting. We went through both frontiers with the truck and a little bit later he rolled a joint and smoked it together with Alex. We also crossed the Strait of Magellan with the truck and twenty kilometers later the three of us went down because we were all going to Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. Christian was going to Buenos Aires as almost all of the trucks coming from Ushuaia or Rio Grande did.

It was already quite late, the day has nearly reached its sunset and we decided to pitch our tents together. Of course the wind was blowing and even when we were at the crossing we started looking around for a proper shelter. There were some buildings nearly that looked partly like a hotel. There were many shining pick-ups and jeeps parked before it. It seemed way too luxurious to me but Esterelia decided that it was worth a try to ask if we could pitch our tent somewhere under a shelter. Both of them got into the building where some people from the attending personnel met them. 5-10 minutes later a guy who was obviously the place’s manager went out and I had to involve myself in the conversation because of my better Spanish. I explained to him who we were and what did we fight for and he said there was no problem for us to settle down wherever we wanted. Later we were invited in so that they would serve us dinner. Wow, dinner… it sounded better than bread and dulce de leche… The French were even happier than me. There was a very good place on the back that obviously served as a barbecue and it was sheltered with fences – it was perfect for the tents.

It was interesting how light were the French’s rucksacks and what was even more interesting was the fact that both of them slept at a tent Ferino Lightent 1. I had such tent but I considered it too small for a single person. My rucksack definitely needed to become lighter.

The dinner consisted of a vegetable soup, a big chicken steak with rice and some cream for a dessert. It came just on time to warm us.

In the morning I left both of them to hitch-hike before me and an hour later I went out on the road. About 30-40 minutes later a little truck stopped. I helped the driver move a big package of meat whose weight was twenty kilograms at the carriage and we set off for Punta Arenas. I went down on the crossing where the road branches off to Puerto Natales. The wind was especially strong and the traffic was especially low. It made attempts to rain. I spent almost an hour there and all this time there were barely 5-6 that passed by but in the end a jeep stopped. I realised at once that the guy was a foreigner – Andreas from Germany. He has been working at a big German bank and he spent many years at Bosnia. Anyway, he decided to travel a little, he quit and went at Chille where he spent the last two months circulating with the help of rented cars and airplanes. All in all that was quite the high-budget trip that was going to its end. He has decided to spend three days at Puerto Natales and meanwhile to skip over to Torres del Paine.

When we reached Puerto Natales we found his hotel – one of the biggest hotels in town, located by the sea shore. After that he decided to give me a ride until the edge of town where I would find myself a suitable place to sleep. The task seemed complicated because the city is very touristy and the hotels are practically at every step. I looked around for not such a long time and caught a glimpse of a little locked-up house. There were plenty of fields around it and no people. After I studied it even better I reached the conclusion that the little factory for whatever it had produced, was located thirty meters to the left and had been abandoned. There was a good place for pitching a tent in the back. What was even cooler was that one of the windows was open. I dropped my rucksack there and went to the town to take pictures of the seaside. The sea hardly could be called sea because it was more like an aggregate of channels – not very far away on the inside there are plenty of big islands on which ascend mountains covered with snow. Swans with black necks and various other ducks swimming in the water. The wind was blowing strong and brought cold air and dark clouds from the direction of the sea.

By sunset I was mooning about and taking pictures on the sea shore. When I passed by Andreas’s hotel I saw him having dinner by the window of the restaurant. He saw me too and waved at me to go inside. Even when we took part he invited me to pass by and have dinner. That was a perfect chance to take advantage of the invitation. On the following day he would go at Torres del Paine and we made a deal that I would go and wait for him at 8:30 on the asphalt road by the edge of town if I wanted to go too. The problem was that I had very strong hesitations – the entrance fee for the park is about 30 dollars. Above all I had been there before.

When I reached the factory I concluded that there was a parked bus before one of the alleged abandoned houses and the lights were on. That kind of bothered me but I managed to get inside the kitchen of the factory and went to sleep. In the morning I woke up by myself just 10 minutes after the sunrise and went quickly on the shore to take some photographs. My hesitations were still standing but I was inclined to not going at the park. What was more I had no Chillean money with me. I went back to sleep. Later I decided not to leave the town yet but stay and read some book. I choose 1984 by Orwell, which was not a very good choise because it seemed depressing. On its behalf that emphasized the cold and cloudy weather and my strong hesitations about what I should do. All the afternoon I’ve been lying next to factory, by some container that protected me from the wind.

Gradually my idea to go to the park grew strong. I was just some hundred kilometers away from it and it would be a shame for me not to go. Besides, at my previous visit two years ago I couldn’t see tha whole park at all. In the evening I went to the centre, I withdrew some money, I bought food and went on shore to wait for the sunset. I went around to the hotel of Andreas to check if I would not run into him at the restaurant by chance and ask him if he would go at the park.

I drew a winner – he was there again and I entered again – this time we just talked. He wasn’t sure what exactly he would do. But when he found out that I had firmly decided to go to the park he decided to go again and drove me there.

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