A few kilometers to remember

How long have you got?

An hour I hear you say, well fantastic, click here and enjoy our story from the very beginning.

Ah, you’re in a bit of a rush are you, well not to worry, here’s a few highlights…

Lighting up the switchboards in Ferrenafe in the search for Dad’s family

Camping under nuclear sunsets in the Atacama desert

Reflecting on all that we’ve given up for this adventure

Shocking ourselves with an epic crossing of the Andes

Ticking off our bucket list

Trying our hand at being a gaucho

And finally, the expedition as seen on 35mm

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Things you only learn the hard way

1: If you’re going to dig your own loo, make sure you dig it deep, and don’t squat too low

2: Brooks saddles rock, but your ass is still going to be sore after 8 hours in the saddle, even with two pairs of padded shorts

3: Tent beats cheap hotel room (almost) every time

4: The battle with your head is harder than any hill, wind or distance

5: You will come back with ridiculous tan lines

6: Getting off your bike will generally stop a frenzied dog attack (but don’t blame me if it doesn’t)

7: As much as I hate to admit it, pasta really is the best breakfast

8: Be careful what you wish for, sometimes there’s a reason the buses don’t stop at the small towns and villages

9: Put too many miles on the clock and you might just miss everything

10: Spirit and knowledge are the most valuable pieces of kit you can own

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(Un)profoundness

…and learn to gallop we did, right before cycling through the centre of  Buenos Aires, which was fun.

And all too quickly it was over, 90 days that have taken us from a search for family, through deserts, over mountains and coast to coast across a continent.

Are we special? Are we adventurers? Are we unique?

No, I don’t think so.

We all dream of doing something different, of undertaking our own adventure, be it climbing a mountain, learning to ride, quitting our job…

Does the adventure need a profound ending? We’re just part time adventurers really, take a look at Al Humphries if you want a bit of profoundness, at least there you’ll be in the company of a real explorer.

Right now it’s all just a bit of a shock being back in cold wet Blighty, but we’re energised and ready for the next challenge, be it at work (or in Georgia’s case finding work) or contemplating a move up north and out of London. Right now, anything is possible…

How would you feel if you’d stepped off a plane at Heathrow this morning? Don’t know? Well there’s only one way to find out… : )

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Where are the brakes?

You can’t exactly stay on an Argentine ranch and not have a go at being a Gaucho.

Trouble is, if the closest you’ve ever been to a horse is watching The Good The Bad And The Ugly you’re going to be in for a bumpy ride.

And to make it a little easier, lets try it bareback – thanks Liv’s!

So, in a nutshell, pull the reigns in the direction you want to go, dig in your heels and thank God you’re still wearing padded shorts.

I think Olivia practices the ‘chuck em in at the deep end and see if they can swim’ school of equestrian proficiency. Well we didn’t drown but we didn’t exactly break any records either so a few lessons…

…starting with saying hello. For someone with no experience of horses it was pretty moving being around such large powerful animals yet being treated so gently as the nibbled our hair softly butted heads. I guess it was as important for Georgia and I to get used to them as it was them for us.

And then learning to trot, saddle this time thank you very much, back straight, knees bent, up down, up down.

Tomorrow we gallop…

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Impossible is nothing

Without wanting to turn her crimson, it’s impossible to spend time with Liv’s without realising you’re in the company of a pretty amazing person.

Whilst most of her peers were watching their mortar boards sail through the air at graduation, she was busy talking herself into a job int the city, working her way up to heading an entire team, and with all the spare time she didn’t have, turning a derelict farm on the outskirts of Buenos Aires into a successful polo horse breeding enterprise.

Take one mare, add a stallion, wait 11 months and out pops a foal. Take that foal, invest time, energy love and patience, six years later you have a courageous, valuable polo horse. Increase the scale of the operation and you have a valuable business.

Some of us are lucky enough to take time off and seek adventure in remote parts of the world, others have the courage and determination to take that spirit of adventure, the excitement and fear of the unknown, and apply it to their daily lives.

Olivia, along with her business partners, are five years into an entrepreneurial journey that allows them to be the only gauchos in the office, trading stocks and shares during the day, mares and stallions at lunchtime.

We’re lucky to count her as a friend, spending time here on the ranch has been an inspiration and is testimony to the fact that anything is possible if you want it enough.

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And then we were there

Relaxed really doesn’t cover how we’ve felt the last few days. Two weary cyclists could not ask for more as a fitting conclusion to a pan-continental endeavor.

We have certainly managed to swap pedals for stirrups, but not before enjoying an unexpected treat.

We knew Olivia’s ranch was a working business, breeding and training polo horses is no 9 to 5 office job, it’s hard work, stables, pitch forks, horses, horse crap, leather hands, so imagine our surprise when the tour of the farm ended as Liv’s peeled back the door to our accommodation – possibly the poshest tent we’ve ever seen.

No Thermorests and sleeping bags here. Double bed, sofa, fridge, chandeliers, electricity! All housed in an enourmous bell tent. She even managed to throw in a moonlit sky.

Finally, accommodation worthy of a honeymoon.

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In sixty years time…

Home stretch (almost)

What do you do when your adventure takes a break from being adventurous?

Enjoy a few coctails…

Play with friendly campsite dogs…

Drool over chunkier modes of transport

Rest those weary legs…

Cycling towards civilisation and everything starts becoming more civilised. As if the landscape has matched our mood, mountains, deserts, wilderness behind us, the last 800km has been a long and gentle, if not gusty, reintroduction into a more European vibe.

All of a sudden we’re not cycling away from something, but towards it.

Already we’ve begun feasting on the memories of the last couple of months – “Do you remeber that time…” – and animatedly discussing our future, or atleast what we’re going to call our dog.

300km, three days of cycling to Olivia’s ranch and then we’re swapping peddles for stirrups, squeezing the last bit of excitement out of our three months and having a go at playing cowboys.

Just have to learn how to ride first…

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Single or double sir…?

There’s nothing like a shot of neat reality down the back of your throat to wake you up from the dream you’ve been living.

The world doesn’t just stop because you’re away, it’s only down to generosity and hard work of those back in the real world that George and I are able to live this adventure.

We’ve got Buenos Aires in our sights and we’re close to the home straight – I can’t beleive there’s only a few weeks left!

Our briefest of visit to the windiest place on earth didn’t really sell the two week trek through the Pampa so another bus and now it’s an 800km cycle from Bahia Blanca up and around the Atlantic coast to Buenos Aires.

So far, earily like cycling through Norfolk, if Norfolk was the size of Wales and everyone spoke Spanish. I’m sure Norfolk’s got a few airfields too, just don’t know if they’d be as welcoming as the guys at Tres Arroyos who put us up on their landing strip.

It’s a shame no one told the wind to stay put in Zapala, it’s your best friend or worst enemy depending on its mood.

Right now it’s all about getting to Buenos Aires, to meet Liv’s, Georgia’s ranch owning, polo horse breeding bueno amigo for our last taste or Argentine authenticity.

Pasta breakfasts, your days are numbered.

The real world is there and waiting, it’s just going to have to wait a little longer – we’re not quite finished yet…

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Back on it

They say you need the rough to enjoy the smooth. The Argentinian lakes, they were smooth, delicious like melted chocolate. North of the lakes, not so smooth and the further we go the rougher it gets.

It’s been gradual, riding through landscapes straight out of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, but the grand sweekping rivers and clifftop ridges have been gradually replaced by long, long stretches of rolling tarmac and desert-flat horizons.

Not what you’d imagine tough going, but with no postcard view for distraction the saddle is that bit harder, neck aches that much more and legs start to feel every kilometer. Oh, and we’re back to picking out the unnatural noises as we wild camp – really puts a dent in a good nights sleep.

But the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the final straw – the god damn wind. The last fifty kilometers into Zapala have been like pushing an entire bobsleigh team the wrong way up an Olympic downhill run. We’ve littered the road with every expletive imaginable forcing our way through this wall of wind. But hey, at least it’s not raining.

Two weeks of days like this all the way to Buenos Aires? Not a chance. Where’s that map…

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"Don't ask yourself what the world

needs; ask yourself what makes you

come alive. And then go and do

that. Because what the world needs

is people who have come alive." -

Howard Thurman


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