[Sally] We travel a short easy distance to Gaiman, a Welsh settlement in Patagonia. It was established in 1865 by group of 150 Welsh people wishing to protect a lifestyle that had become endangered in their native Wales. I blame it on the English! Anyhow, after years of hardship working the land and building trading relationships with the aborigines, we finally have Gaiman and lots of Welsh Tea Rooms for us to enjoy. And yes, we did fill our little fat faces with scones, cakes, breads and plentiful tea from the quaintly dressed teapot. Some people supposedly speak Welsh here, but I couldn't find any - just as well really as I can't speak it either even though I'm Welsh!
So that was a soft and fluffy day - not at all like the following day. We want to visit Punta Tombo to see a colony of Magellanic penguins. It's 140kms from Gaiman, the last 20km on gravel and corrugated road. It's quite challenging and I can't say I enjoy it - it's not much fun trying to keep to a car tyre track and avoiding the deeper gravel. We did do an off-road motorbike course before we left home and had a couple of practice runs on some dirt roads on the outskirts of Sydney - Settlers Road from Wiseman's ferry, and some dirt trails at the back of Kurrajong Heights near the Blue Mountains - but we haven't done deep gravel and corrugations. We make it though - and I don't drop my bike once! There's a bit of faffing around to see the penguins but it's nice to get off the bikes and go for a walk for a few kms to see the penguins. They're very cute and numerous.
I'm dreading the 20km gravel road back out of Punto Tombo, but our next destination is Camerones and my nightmare has only just begun. The shortest route to Camerones is 145km of gravel/dirt road - I only hope the condition of these classified roads is better than the access road to the penguins. We give it a go and it doesn't seem much better, but Jeff's off and there's no stopping him, and no time for me to protest. It's quite challenging and I have some scary wobbles on the deeper gravel but allow the bike to do its thing - it's what it was built for. I have to concentrate the whole time and get used to standing on the pegs - this is an off road technique to lower the center of gravity on the bike. It also helps to not feel every little jitter on the road too. Once you get used to it and can stand up correctly it makes for a more stable ride. Still, the road surface changes a few times - some of it pretty rough, some dry creek bed crossings, some creek water crossings, some a bit sandy. It takes us 4 hours to get to Camerones and I'm totally exhausted. Thankfully we have a room booked already - we have a light dinner and I'm so tired I almost can't finish my wine - OMG. It's all good practice as there are worse roads to come. Can't wait :)
The next morning I feel a bit beaten up, but we take out time in the morning and have a little stroll to the beach. There's not much here - it was just a place we could stop for a night, as there aren't many towns down here. I feel nervous again as the map indicates a 70km ride on a dirt road back onto Route 3 (The Pan American). Thankfully it's all sealed road now and I can't tell how happy that makes me.
We head to Caleta Olivia, 350kms down the road. Fairly straight forward except the wind was a bit strong and gusty sometimes. This freaks me out as there are a few on coming trucks and I grip on for dear life to avoid being blown into them - the bikes aren't exactly aerodynamic. But as usual I'm just a big scaredy pants and we make it to Caleta Olivia safely. We haven't got anything booked as we couldn't get any internet access at Camerones. We head for a hotel indicated on Navmii, but when we get there it looks a bit of a flea pit, so we use data roaming to find another place. There is limited availability but we find an apartment which seems quite nice, called Apartmento Del Sol and the pictures look great. Jeff accuses me of living in Sally's world at lot, but on this occasion I lower my expectations but am still taken in by the photos.
Well, it took us nearly an hour to find the place, riding around some pretty dodgy looking areas. We did actually find the right location 3 or 4 times on our several loops around, but we couldn't quite believe it when we got there - it looked like an industrial site - even my lowered expectations didn't prepare me for it. Despite the external surroundings, the apartment is actually quite nice and Sandra, the host, is very friendly and can speak a little English. It will be great for us for 2 nights as we get a bit of rest, get cleaned up and catch up on the blog.
There isn't much around, but at least there is a supermarket so we go over and pick up some supplies. We get a ready made dinner, but get bacon for breakfast - which means cooking. That in itself is OK, but how to light the gas hob without matches or lighter? My Bear Grylls knife makes his grand entrance - it has a flint on it. When I finally work out how to use it I get the gas hob lit and can finally cook the bacon.
Our Spanish is improving every day, but by far the most spoken phrase by me is "Lo siento mi español es poquito", and then can't understand much that is rattled back to me. But now I finally understand the value of the many happy years playing charades at Christmas time - what a great communication method. So even though we don't speak much Spanish - we get by, and maybe with a little help from Google Translate when connected to the web.