VII. Northbound

26/02/14 – 27/02/14

After the night of the fox, we made a special effort to rise before noon. We followed a trail to the Lago Alto, where we emerged from the forest canopy onto a grey-pebbled shore. Bright and placid, deep and dark, the water’s edge guided us to the border with Chile. A wooden sign suggested that we not trespass, but it was shorter than us, and this really was the most pleasant place to cross. No guards posturing for authority, no sequence of paper-shuffling desks to negotiate, no queues stretching to the nearest paved road in the glaring ultra-violet. Here in the shaded lakeside forest, the only border guards were the unseen birds that chirped and flitted between countries without firing a bureaucratic neuron. Continue reading

VI. Land of Fire

24/2/14 – 26/2/14

The mess hall was aflutter with campers drawn to the light like moths. Whump, the multilingual chatter crossed the decibel threshold whereafter everyone suddenly speaks louder to be heard. A card game got rowdy at the French table. If you listened without searching for meaning, you could divide the white noise into its constituent colours. French casts a purple light, Spanish red and English blue. Through din and backpacker everhype, my only tangible thoughts were of the sherpa-dog I’d left shrinking in the side mirror. What if he was still running after us, lost in the cold night rain, harrowed by  headlights flashing by? But even this thought I was too tired to sustain. I could count on my fingers the number of hours I’d slept in the past week. Four on the left, seven on the right. The tent might have been a four-star hotel for all I knew. Continue reading

V. World’s End

22/2/14 – 24/2/14

We eddied out by the Rio Grande waterfront. I’d rather have jumped into the Argentine Sea than ridden back into fray. The styrofoam joke-armour in my jacket and pants would give me buoyancy. I’d float with the currents to the Falklands, flash my British passport at the coast guard and check into the hospital. I surveyed the beach: black seawater, long rustle-grass, dark earth turned orange by dim street-lamps. Continue reading

IV. Peligro!


Open road, day one. I stood in a haze of morning rain and strapped my bags to the passenger seat.  The pavement was slick, my visor kaleidoscopic. We were bound for World’s End: Ushuaia, Argentina. If you want to throw a stone at Antarctica, this is where you go. Continue reading

III. Entanglement

19/2/14 – 21/2/14

Bagless arrival at a Punta Arenas hostel. In the back yard stood the three fabled 125cc Honda CGLs that had made the journey South from Santiago. Two little tents clung to the grass nearby. One sagged inward, darkened with damp. The inhabitants, Australian couple Cath and Rob, had been waiting a week for me to arrive with their new tent, which of course was MIA with my duffel bag. Continue reading

II. Transit Zen

7/2/14 – 19/2/14

A car slid sideways past the Seattle apartment window. Wheels spun toward a driveway but frictionless inertia had other plans. Snow is rare in Seattle, hills are not. The street was closed soon after, flailing tires replaced by plastic toboggans. After-dark kids threw snowballs at the windows while I cooked dinner, God bless them. Little did they know they weren’t my windows, and I was merely in transit. Continue reading

I. Airport Fresh


I wanted the triangular sandwiches in the plastic case. They were the safest option, and no more extortionate than the rest of the food in the airport, so I took two. The use-by date wasn’t for two days, but the bread was cold and crispy. It was difficult to eat without water, but with hunger anything is possible. Continue reading


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