DAY 810 - TIERRA DEL FUEGO

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Day 810 - Porvenir, Tierra del Fuego, Chile - 19,601 km

I stare around the interior of my little tent as I warm up in the sleeping bag after setting up camp. The familiar layout, every bag and item its place. My canvas duffel with valuables in the middle, dirty, road-aged and falling apart. A carton of wine — I stopped bothering with bottles. Even a carton is acceptable quality in Argentina and saves weight on the bike. Best served between 18 and 20ºC, reads the label. That’s not going to happen tonight. A fridge is warmer than tonight's bedroom. I’m used to the cold and I like it. When I stay in hotels my face swells red from the heat.

I’m contemplating if i will take a ‘shower’. I know it will make me feel better. The thing is that it is freezing outside, literally. There is snow on the ground and a chilling breeze that grips your throat. I built up strength and fight the instinctual fear of getting cold. I heat some water on the stove and put it in a bottle. I wrestle myself out of the sleeping bag in the cramped two square meters I’ve been calling home for a while now, take off my socks, cycling tights, downjacket, wool sweater and under garment and step out naked in the cold night, bare feet in the snow. The water in the bottle is just a bit too hot. I screw off the cap and throw it over my face while I regulate the flow keeping my thumb in the nozzle of the bottle. It feels nice and warm, even in the freezing wind. From my head I go down towards my feet until the bottle is empty. Now the worst part comes. The cold takes over, in a matter of seconds I shiver uncontrollably. You know the moment you turn off the shower and open the curtain to grab a towel. The colder air chills your wet body. Even in a comfortable bathroom it can make you shiver, except here it’s -5ºC. Quickly I brush off. Every muscle and nerve is tense and my skin feels hard. Ahead of me lies a frozen lake under a sea of stars. I stare into the distance and the fact that I stand here naked with numb feet in the snow makes me chuckle. When I’m dried off the worst part is over. In the tent I put on my clothes and get back in the sleeping bag. Slowly my body returns to a comfortable temperature. I feel renewed as never before.

 
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The markings from other travellers in a refugio along the road.

The markings from other travellers in a refugio along the road.

End of the day treat at an abandoned fishing cabin on the beach of the Atlanctic Coast.

End of the day treat at an abandoned fishing cabin on the beach of the Atlanctic Coast.