Borders_are_a_big deal. Crossing them is one of Bound South’s biggest thrills. Between Anchorage and Ushuaia we’ve got fourteen international border crossings, each of them their own kind of victory, greeting, leave-taking. Objectively, borders are probably the least romantic places we’ll visit on this journey southwards, full as they are of people who invariably want to be somewhere else. Yet there is a romance in the way the stamps accumulate and the old roads move behind us with a new country ahead of us. So it was that we crossed the border from Peru to Chile in the coastal Atacama desert, full of great hope and excitement for the final two countries of our long journey.
Yet this crossing in particular was tinged with a little bit of anxiety. We treasure the privilege of bicycle travel while we can enjoy it; and for us, that privilege must end with our return home in May. And so we looked at the 5000+ kilometers separating us from Ushuaia and figured out that we weren’t able to make it on our own.
We begrudgingly hopped a bus to central Chile and since then we’ve been riding like the wind. I have always relished the consistent pace of bicycle travel, the way we can enjoy every mile and see the gradual progression of the landscape under our own power. This time, the window of an overnight bus transformed the endless earthen tones of the Atacama desert into the Mediterranean green of pastoral Chile. Now we ride through pine forests, ranch lands, dairy farms, and apple orchards. It almost feels like we got here too quickly; the changing landscape is an uncomfortable reminder that the end in Ushuaia is so close.
We have no regrets. No adventure is perfect. Riding into Ushuaia in May and coming home will be close enough to perfect, as far as I am concerned. If anything, our recent weeks have reminded us once again what a privilege it is to travel by bicycle, and to treasure this last chapter of our long journey from Alaska.