Another breezy day in Patagonia, mostly crosswinds with a touch of tailwind. A storm blew through and we hid in a cute roadside shelter/bus stop. They can always be found at intersections where side roads connect with the main road. I think they look like mini castles. We fit the bikes inside and then huddled together and watched three episodes of Archer while waiting for the sky to clear.
After about 60 miles we came across a rundown old gas station complex. It’s still functional so we figured someone must live here. We would like to put our tent beside one of the buildings as a wind block. I try to knock on the house door but a large German Shepherd greets me with a snarl, suggesting I’m not welcome on his porch.
Eventually, a friendly guy came to the door and I explain we’re traveling by bicycle and looking for a place to camp. I’ve told this story hundreds of times before, and by the look on his face he’s heard this story an equal number of times. This is not his first rodeo. We are clearly not the first weary and windblown cyclists to knock (or try to knock) on his door.
He says we are welcome to sleep in the yellow buildings off to the side of his property. There are four sheds to choose from. They appear to be here for the very purpose of housing cold, wet, windburned cyclists. We are ecstatic to be able to sleep inside something, protected from the wind. Someone even went to the effort of giving the sheds a fresh coat of bright yellow paint on the inside. We are so grateful to this man, but we can’t help but wonder why people do this for us traveling cyclists? They could just as easily turn us away and send us pedaling down the road.
A couple of times in the windy stretches of Patagonia, we have found structures provided for passing cyclists to sleep in. We’ve even met other cyclists that have slept where we had been a few nights before or after (apparently everyone sleeps in the Tapi Aike trailer). We wonder if it’s because the people here at the far reaches of the world are so isolated, do they feel a responsibility to take care of passing visitors? Many times they are the only people within 50 miles. Is it a culture of hospitality? Or is it because every year between December and March so many cyclists knock on their door that it’s easier to provide us a place for the night than it is to look into our tired, disappointed eyes if they send us back out into the wind. Maybe they get a kick out of seeing foreigners do cartwheels over sleeping in their garden shed, barn, trailer, abandoned building. They could easily charge us, but they don’t.
Whatever their reasons or motivation, we are grateful for these gestures of hospitality, and we hope they get returns hundredfold in great karma.