17th March – The good favours from the Chapstick god.

For all my fellow users of chapstick to prevent cracks and ensure supple-ness, I am one of the few. I have actually got to the end of a stick without loosing it. I have never completed an entire stick without somehow misplacing it.

I still find it hard to grasp just how quickly an entire environment can change. Yesterday we were driving through lush thick forests and lakes plenty of water, and within 50k’s and one small mountain range we must have driven into a rain shadow. Now, the tallest shrub is knee high and the whole landscape is made of pebbles and gravel.

Ever since my eyes first gazed upon the Ande’s as we flew over Santiago oh so many weeks ago, I am still amazed as to how rugged they are. Impassably rugged. Unclimbable rugged. Un-survey-able rugged. The tops of the ridge lines look identical to parapets on a castle made from giants. The scree slopes start at the peak and encroach past the tree line and spill into the valley below.

Towns are becoming more few and far between. Petrol stations are not guaranteed to have any petrol so filling up before necessary is a wise move. I was told Patagonia is a beautiful place. I can only agree. It is the kind of place that you go to retreat from the hustle and bustle of real life. The giant fur trees, roaring wood fires (even at the end of summer the mountains are all snow capped) and endless horizons lend a tranquil feel to a stressed mind.

Our good friend Steve and Janet Hyde are now car number 8 to drop by the wayside and have a terminal breakdown. He blew the head gasket in his Mercedes yesterday afternoon for the second time in 7days. The one horse town of Esquel couldn’t do an engine rebuild overnight like the guys in Mendosa did for him. πŸ™

Dad and I had the worst possible luck today, right at the beginning of a 100km regularity test. We started with high hopes and confidence. Calculating our distance, remaining time and average speed every half a kilometre. The only tools we use are a stopwatch and a calculator. 13.38 K’s into the test and our trip meter (monit) numbers stop changing. Our trip meter was broken…… Our life support system for the test had stopped. An unluckily placed rock had got caught and ripped our sender unit off. So for the rest of the test we had to use a less efficient gps trip and all the numbers didn’t match up so the maths was done all over again on the trot. Over the 1hour 38 minute test we had about 20 seconds penalties. I think that is good enough to retain our position at the pointy end of the tree πŸ˜€



  1. Corina H

    was that your chapstick thats been to every continent you’ve been to???
    doing so well james and max πŸ™‚ xx

    1. James Stephenson

      nah, i lost that one πŸ˜› x

  2. Melinda and John Raker

    We know several of your fellow travellers so have been reading all the blogs through thick and thin! What a trip! You get the prize for being the chirpiest through all adversity and never ever making any sort of complaint! Nothing has fazed you and you have laughed your way through it all so we have laughed with you (and Scott and Paddy and Chris and Mark)! Good for you! Good luck for the next few days. Best wishes Melinda

    1. James Stephenson

      hahah Thanks! Almost there now. not long to go

  3. Ruth

    Hey James, chapstick isn’t finished until you use a nail file to dig out the last bits!!

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