Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Roads Not Travelled

This recent posting popped up in my YouTube dogpile. Enjoy it for the journey. I was thoroughly intrigued. (Whether you are or not, and what perambulations this sort of thing leads to in your mind is your own affair.)

TL;DW: Four retired old farts decided to rig bicycle contraptions to allow them to travel across mostly wilderness Patagonia for several hundred miles along the antiquated and largely abandoned small-gauge railroad line running near the foot of the Andes in the southwest of Argentina.

I'm glad they had fun.
Can't believe none of them thought to learn a little Español prior to the undertaking, even a bare smattering, but that's some people for you. And with the tiniest pushing, they could just as easily have turned this travelogue into a full-fledged NatGeo episode and gotten paid to do the whole thing.

It would have been no less epic, and twice as enjoyable.

Maybe that thought will occur to them, and they can make it a twice-in-a-lifetime experience, and even more enjoyable for us internet gawkers.

Contrast that charming trip through a rural region of a Latin country, with the fate of the tofu-slurping Birkenstock-wearing buy-the-world-a-Coke millennial snowflakes who recently got shredded and diced by jihadi @$$holes in Muslim Tajikistan.

There are places in the world you can do this sort of thing in your twilight years, and others where you'd be a fool to try.

I've never been much for tourism, but were the bug to bite, this strikes me as far more interesting than gallivanting around with a bunch of fat old cityfolk in their declining years, waddling from tour bus to museum to buffet to hotel.

In fact, I'm already building the cargo-capable four-wheeled recumbent bike with adjustable-width frame in my head, for just such a thing.

A couple of tips from other world travelers I've always remembered:

Learn a little bit of the language.
Carry a deflated soccer ball or three, a hand pump, and a small jarful of inflation needles, and you'll never lack for local friends between the ages of 5 and 35.


George True said...

Watched the video and perused the website. Wow! A very unusual adventure with spectacular scenery. This is something you would expect young adventurers to do, not a quartet of old dudes in their seventies.

I agree that knowing even a smattering of the language can pay large dividends. Even if you massacre their language, the locals usually appreciate that you are making the effort to communicate with them in their tongue.

In the late 90's I made several mountaineering trips to Argentina and Chile. One one trip I was the only one of our climbing foursome who knew any Spanish. I had taken four years of it in high school in the late 60's, but had not used any of it since. I had forgotten probably 80-85 percent of the Spanish vocabulary I once knew.

After spending almost a month above 14,000 feet camped on ice and snow every night, we hiked out to the trailhead, only to discover that our previously arranged transport back to the nearest settlement was not there and likely not going to show up for days if at all. There were however two Argentinian army trucks parked about half a mile away. Some hours later, we saw two squads of troops coming down out of the hills. Using what little Spanish I could remember, I explained our predicament to them, and they were more than happy to give us a ride back to 'town', which was just a few buildings a short distance from the small army base where they were stationed.

On the ride back, introductions were made all the way around, with me as interpreter. Even though I could understand only about every third word, it was enough. By the time we got back, we were fast friends, and our new buddies invited us to have a few cervesas with them that evening at the EM club on their base, which we did, and it was a great time. All because one of us knew at least a little bit of the language.

(BTW, that evening I asked them if they had been on a training exercise up in the hills. They said no, they went on patrols up there looking for smugglers. I said 'smugglers of what, drugs?' They said no, not drugs, usually consumer goods such as electronics. Apparently, because Argentina had such high import taxes on such things, there were organized cartels that would smuggle tons of such things in over the border with Chile, usually by mule. I never would have imagined such a thing.)

Tactless Wookie said...

I've saved the video for later. That looks interesting.

I live in North Texas, so a little Spanish is a must. Even of only enough to say Buenos dias!

@Aesop, I'm interested in the "bike" idea. I've been considering a trike myself. I do not recall reading anything in your blog prior.

Nori said...

What a great video! The scenery looks similar to the high desert American Southwest,unsurprisingly. Nice find,Aesop,thanks 4 sharing.

George,your comment was very interesting also. Would’nt have occurred to me electronics would be a smuggle-worthy commodity. Wonder what the penalties are if you’re caught.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

I came across these awhile back. Wish some infrastructure money would be spent on repairs necessary to lenghten and/or add distance. Really cool idea.

June J said...

What an adventure! Sent the video and website links to couple of my cycling friends.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff! I passed it on to my doc who is a steam engine authority. I've been a bike phreak since I was 7, about half a century ago.
Westside Dano

Borepatch said...

I worked with a guy who once hiked up to the headhunters in Borneo. Was pretty pleased with himself about it. I thought he was a fool back then and haven't changed my opinion.

Old NFO said...

There IS hope for us old farts! :-) Great video and agree, a little Spanish and a soccer ball would have gotten them a lot further with the locals!

OvergrownHobbit said...

If you can draw well a sketch pad and decent charcoal pencils and pens can make friends also.

cruiser said...

Here's one outside of Lapwai, Idaho (This is where Breakheart Pass was filmed)