Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999
From: Claude Marthaler <>

Subject: "At open hearth"

Dear Redfishes !
Bahia Blanca, km 88OOO

At only 4OOO kms north of the south pole was "el fin del mundo" - "the end of the world." Winter was covering the circle of mountains, as we arrived in Ushuaia on March 28. Facing the Beagle channel, I felt a bit decomposed in a multitude of emotions, of countries, like the numerous islands, tired vessels derivating at the exact junction of the Atlantic & the Pacific Oceans. All were named in glory of famous admirals. World geography still suffers from a lack of poetry. "Ends or corners of the world" were good enough for generals, missionaries and merchants, not for travellers.

You could find in Ushuaia whatever you wanted: supermarkets, the best food and accomodations. Motorised and expensive, the end of the world was strangely civilised and we both felt deeply wild. Quite a bit lost after two months riding together on "Carretera australe" and "Ruta 4O", two cyclists' mythical trail, lonely, silent, unpopulated.

But "the end of the world effect" affected us finally also: quitting Ushuaia means always coming back from far away. Jamie went suddenly back to the U.S.; I crossed Tierra del Fuego, feeling all the weight of a sudden loneliness, quitting a friend and a continent at the same time. I felt winter like a migratory bird. And, in front of the fierce 6O km/h wind, I decided in Rio Gallegos to take a bus to Bahia Blanca, further north on the Atlantic coast.

The Patagonian wind had finally reasoned with my stubborness. But there was certainly something more, perhaps something else, an urgency to keep my strength for the final stage of my circumnavigation: the African continent. Not a final sprint. A missing link to finish my "velorution" like I had started it: on two wheels, at open hearth.

The YAK_


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