On leaving Tolhuin Bakery I am gifted with an incredible tail wind and I’m cycling on the highs of a Glee movie-set for 70 glorious kilometres. Then my head is down and I’m pushing at my pedals achieving no more than 7 kph. I will learn all too soon this is only a whisper of what the Patagonian wind has in store for me.
The Tierra del Fuego Island is baron with nowhere to hide. Approaching a farm I see my opportunity for protection and although it’s only 5 pm I call it a day. Walking my bike through the old stone buildings I search for someone to ask permission to camp. An aged jeep rolls towards me and a white haired man with a green padded waistcoat pops his head out the window.
“Adrian Goodall!” he exclaims, introducing himself in a perfect English accent.
He explains his father came here on a contract to fix machinery in 1910 and stayed after falling in love with his mother. She lived here on this farm. This Argentinian man is speaking better English than me. He sounds like a lord! Mind you. I am Scottish let’s not forget. Most people in the world speaks better English than me. In fact, that’s how this blog began. I wanted to write a book of my travels but my English was so poor. Even though it is my first language.
Adrian’s brother was born in Scotland and so our bond is sealed. What are the chances. Out here on this remote island of Tierra del Fuego. He looks at me like I’m,
‘aff ma heid’
when I ask to camp, telling me it’s far too windy for that carry on.
“Follow me!” he wails and starts up his jeep.
I’m pedalling behind him, front wheel to bumper, bouncing all over the place as he picks up speed, weaving through the farm buildings, praying there’s no emergency stop. Our final destination is this cottage.
There is no electricity or running water and the wooden rooms are empty all but for decades of dust. A wood burning stove takes centre stage of the front room and an old bed sits filthy and dilapidated in one corner. It is awesome. I love it. Adrian leaves wishing me all the best on my trip whilst pointing to an outhouse. I collect wood and admit I am super proud to get the wood burner going all by myself. With no injury.
I wander over to the outhouse rather excited. I’ve never used an outhouse before and only seen them in epic movies such as Australia. But this is no movie and my excitement is short lived. Holding my breath. Refusing to breathe. The hole is filthy. There is absolutely no way. I cannot. I will not. I retreat. Scanning a spot out of view from other buildings. But there is not. I shall wait until dark, ignoring the elephant in the room. It’s not dark until after 11pm.
I explore the cottage and I’m back inside my epic movie again. Opening each door, one by one, imagining the scenes all those years ago when this was a busy working farm. In the last room there is a ceramic urinal on the back wall. My mind flashes between out house and urinal out house and urinal. In Bosnia and Herzegovina an experience (you can read about it here) made me invest in a Shewee.
It remains unused but now it’s time. I retrieve the pink plastic contraption and walk back to the urinal. I stare at both urinal and Shewee for a long time. I can’t bring myself to do it. Standing up is so wrong. But my options are limited. Okay Ishbel. Just do it. I can’t. Just do it. I can’t. I close my eyes. A memory of being a toddler. When everything was happy. Dad had me and my twin brother out on his bicycle. (It was okay back then to balance your children on your bicycle). Standing on the side of a country lane surrounded by rapeseed and copying my brother’s standing position for wee wee time. It was a dramatic fail and I had been so confused. I shut off my mind. And for the second time in my life I wee standing up. This time there’s no fail and I’m not standing in a puddle. Half of me wants to declare my achievement to the world that I’ve just used my Shewee but the other half wins and I walk back to the wood burning stove wanting to forget.
I fill the wood burner with as much wood as it takes, Now I bring my attention to the bed in the corner which I have avoided all eye contact with since glancing it upon my arrival.
If you had shown me a photo of this bed before I began cycling the world and told me I’d sleep in it, I would have told you no way; not a flippin chance. Now lying in it I scratch all over from the invisible bugs living inside my imagination. There all holes all over the bed and I don’t know what’s living inside …
As always, thanks for being a part of the journey. Love WBG. xxx