TRAVEL PORTRAITS

PHOTOGRAPHY

“In 2014 I travelled solo through South America. These are the portraits and the stories of some of the people I met along the way.”

Rosa lives in Puerto Montt. When her husband died she decided to rent some rooms of her house to travelers. Some days, after going to the market, she eventually pass by the bus station and waits there for potential guests, holding a little sign with "hospedaje" written on it.

Rosa
José

José is a mechanic and owner of a bicycle shop in Puerto Montt, Chile, where the Carretera Austral starts. I bought him a bike and he gently offered me a free email support service in case of problem. José, despite a career of more than 30 years, has never done the famous Carretera Austral.

Cecilia runs a bicycle shop in Puerto Montt with her husband José..

Cecilia
Daniela and Manuel

Daniela and Manuel are volunteer fire fighters in Puerto Montt, Chile. Not only they work for free and combine this activity with their studies, but they actually have to pay for their license and get their uniform/equipment.
"It's a vocation" they told me proudly.
In Chile, all fire departments are entirely based on volunteering.

Gonzalo is engineer. He worked on the construction of Ruta 7 (Carretera Austral) in the '70s He knows that the recent project to asphalt the road will change forever the environment and lifestyle of the region, but still believes it's necessary.

Gonzalo
Family on the road

Matt, his wife Amy and their two kids Finlay and Liam, are a Canadian family traveling with their bikes since 4 months. First across Europe, now in South America, the journey is meant to last for a year. Notice the little trailers for the kids, equipped with pedals. (when there is a will, there is a way...)

Sergio is working since 1991 on the improving and asphalting works of the Carretera Austral. It is estimated that in about 10 years it will be completed.

Sergio
Enrique

Enrique studies Tourism in Santiago. He hopes that the asphalting and improvement of the Carretera Austral will help him to have work in its sector when he graduates.
Puerto Aysen it's home town where he cycle to for the summer holiday, is still isolated from the north by long sections of gravel road.

Christobal studies agronomy in Santiago. After the academic year, he and it's two friends, Enrique and Felipe decided to go back for the holidays to their home town, Puerto Aysen by bike.
It's their first cycling trip but they love it so much that they already planned another journey to Bolivia.

Christobal
Felipe

Felipe studies economy in Santiago. Together with it's two friends, Enrique and christobal, they cycle to their home town, Puerto Aysen situated more or less half way from Villa O'higgins, the end of the Carretera Austral.

Veronica is veterinary. She does health control in the salmon industry all around the coast. She accepted to take me on her 4x4 during 30km in order to get me out of a section of the road before a 5h long closing due to use of explosives. Without her, I wouldn't have made it.

Veronica
Anne-Sophie

Anne-Sophie is French and travels solo trough South-America on her "flat bike".

Tobias is a sewer cleaner from Switzerland. With it's girlfriend Steffi, he travels South-America by bike without any planned return date. Tonight, he helped me adjust my brakes after a very intense rainy day.

Tobias
Janie

Janie started her trip from Colombia and met Fabian in Cuzco, Peru. Originally from the Lake District in the UK, she is an experienced biketraveler. She works with ONG's in various South and Central American countries.

Fabian and his friend Janie entered the hostal where I had spend the night, frozen and desperately looking for a hot drink. Fabian studies mathematics and musicology in Zurich. We continued the trip all together until reaching Argentina.

Fabian
Gabriel

Gabriel lives in Cochrane on the Carretera austral. He is retired but to make some extra money, he still works in the cafe nicely designed by his son, architect. As his wife loves to knit, he also decided to sell wool inside the bar.

Rachel owns a "food bus" in Cochrane since 4 years. Together with her husband they bought an old school bus and took 3 months to transform it into a fast food restaurant. "There is no tourist that pass in front of my bus and doesn't take a picture" she proudly told me.

Rachel
Ana-Luz

Ana-Luz rent rooms in her wooden house in Cochrane, Chile, since 10 years, when her husband died.

Today, the offer of 'hospedajes' (Bed and breakfast) is saturated in Cochrane, she said. The cause, is the abandonned "HidroAysén" plan, a controversial megaproject that aimed to build five hydroelectric power plants in Chile's Aysén Region.

The dams were approved on May 9, 2011 under the government of President Sebastián Piñera, and soon after, numerous people migrated in town to start businesses, hoping to get profit from the thousands of workers that would invade the region.

But in June 2014, the project was rejected by the government of Chile, due to calls from environmentalists.

Gian is from Seattle, USA. He just married Kayla and both decided to spend their honeymoon crossing the Carretera Austral.
Gian rides 40 miles every day to go and come back from work. He is also an experienced climber.
I met the couple the day I lost one shoe and we crossed road several times after this. We ended up doing the "border crossing" between Chile and Argentina all together

Gian
Kayla

Kayla is from Seattle, USA. She recently married Gian. They both know eachother since forever and their common passion for biking made the Carretera Austral an obvious choice for their honeymoon.

Self-Portrait. I took this picture on December 24th, on the Carretera Austral, near Caleta Tortel.
It was at the end of a hard day, almost 130km cycling literally without seeing any human soul and with pretty bad weather. I was tired, cold and the atmosphere on that Christmas Day was very gloomy.
On the other side, the landscapes I crossed that day were among the most spectaculars of the route, and the sense of loneliness and desolation certainly participated to the uniqueness and intensity of the moment.
I perfectly knew that after a few days, I would only remember the good side of all this, which is a great thing about how the human brain works.
I'm not used to take selfies, but I somehow wanted to remember the uniqueness and harshness of that day

Self-Portrait
Paula

Paula is English teacher and lives 500km north, in Coyaique, the biggest city (50.000 Hab) of the Carretera Austral. Although she is the daughter the mayor of Villa O'Higgins, she had never seen the glacier so she took advantage of her visit to her parents for the summer holidays, to finaly see this natural wonder that she has "next door".

Sepulveda works on the boat that crosses once a week the O'Higgins lake and eventually make the detour to the glacier. On the zodiac he used to get us closer to the ice blocs, he would make sure to fill a big bottle of water directly from the lake to make a warm 'mate' (traditional infusion) on the way back to Villa O'higgins.

Sepulveda
Manzilla

In Candelario Mansilla, at 3h by boat approximately from Villa O'higgins, endpoint of the Carretera Austral, Manzilla lives with her son, in the only house you will find, apart from the migration office.
The house was build by her parents and she never lived anywhere else. To get food and supplies she relies on the boat that makes the connection to Villa O'higgins only once a week in low season. With no mobile phone signal, she uses a radio to communicate with town and order what she need. Manzilla offers a few beds to passing bikers and hikers that wants to make the border crossing.

Melisa studies to become a teacher.
This summer holiday, she controls and sells the tickets on the boat that crosses the Lago del Desierto.
I casualy asked her if there were any bike rental shops in El Chalten, the first town we had ahead of us, as I had had now the necessity to sell my bicycle in order to continue the journey to the north. It happens that she was just looking for a second hand bike to make her first big trip across Uruguay and Brazil in April.
As incredible as it may sound, she is the first person I talked to (after the immigration officer) in Argentina.... and she is the person that bought my bike....

Melisa
Florencia

Florencia runs the "Casa de los ciclistas" in El Chalten, #argentina
She offers a free shelter and shower in her humble house for any person that travels with the bicycle.
She wants to extend the concept to other cities to help bikers on a budget to realize their dream.
Flore hasn't done any big trip herself but she plan to it soon to the Carretera Austral in Chile.

Claudio is a truck driver living in Rio Gallegos, on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. Strange coincidence, he was born and lived till age 11, in Coyaique, Chile, (a town a crossed 2 weeks ago) before the Carretera Austral even existed. At that time the town was completely isolated and only accessible via a small path. He never went back to his home town ever.

Claudio
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Paula is a singer and old time friend who returned to her homeland, Argentina, after living for a few years in Barcelona. When I landed in Buenos Aires, the starting point of my trip, she gently hosted me and helped to acclimatize to the big city, and when I came back from Patagonia, she welcomed me again to rest for a few days before continuing my trip to Uruguay. 

Marc, a young gardener from Buenos Aires, told me: "There is nothing more relaxing for me to water my plants".
Together with its buddy Nacho, he decided to cycle the Uruguayan coast from Montevideo to Punta del Diablo.

Marc
Nacho

Nacho works in a library in Buenos Aires. I met him and his buddy Marc when he broke his chain near Punta del Este. Since then we travelled together until the Brazilian border. After meeting me, Nacho might seriously consider to cycle the Carretera Austral one day.

Gustavo is originally from La Plata, Argentina, and also cycle solo along the Uruguayan coast. He met Nacho and Marc before I knew them and when a few days later we all met in the hippie town of Valizas, he decided to join the group and travel with us. Gustavo apart from cycling, formerly did competition of gymnastic.

Gustavo
Graciela

Graciela lives in Barra del Chuy, at the border between Uruguay and Brazil. She is the aunt of Anita, member of the "Warmshower" community and author of the book "El viaje de la vida desde una bicicleta" and therefore she offers free hosting to cyclo-travelers. Animal lover, she also takes care of more than 40 abandoned dogs. I spent one night in her garden before crossing to Brazil.

Laurina lives with Breno on KM 600 of the BR-471 road in the department of Rio Grande Sur, Brazil. They both had a shop along the road before getting retired. Not only they let me camp in their garden but also offered me breakfast in the morning.

Laurina
Fagundes

At 30km from Rio Grande, after more than 8 hours cycling on BR-471, dehydrated and desesperated, I meet Fagundes that sits next to its truck on the side of the road. He sells watermelons, "melancia" in Portuguese.
I actually don't like watermelons, but at that moment, Fagundes truck has turned in a sort of oasis for me. I ask him if I can buy a part of it but he says I can have it for free. After a little chat, he even goes to his nearby home to get me a bottle of frozen water... Suddenly, I seems like this crazy day just took some sense...

It is hard for me to explain the feeling of receiving so much generosity and attention from Matheus and it's mother when I arrived at their house, exhausted, dehydrated, after more than 140km cycling facing an unbearable heat and head wind. As a bike enthusiast and member of the "Warmshower.org" community, Matheus not only offered me a bed (and a shower), but also cooked delicious meals and helped me out with various logistical issues such as money exchange, buying bus ticket, laundry... I also was allowed to stay one day more than foreseen in order to rest after my that killing day.
It is really encouraging to witness so much generosity towards a total stranger.

Matheus
Elaine

Elaine is Matheus mother. She hosted me for 2 days in Rio Grande and also cooked delicious meals.

Alícia is a lawyer from Porto Alegre, Brazil. "As a woman, and because I look younger than I am, sometimes when I go to court, people ask me: "Where is the lawyer?" she said laughing.

Alícia
Ale

Walesem T-shirt had this printed on it: "Don't hate me coz I work on the beach". Originally from Curitiba, Ale lived and work in a hostel on the Santa Catarina island, Florianopolis, Brazil. Ale has been so nice to spend 40 min of the phone with a customer service for me in order to activate my Brazilian SIM card on my phone. Sadly, years later, I realized he voted Bolsonaro... 

Jon is an hairstylist from London, UK. I met him at the hostel in Barra de Lagoa and we decided to take surf classes together. As an experienced skateboarder, he was obviously much better than me. Behind a pretty quiet and humble attitude lies a talented and hard working individual that at age 24, already jumps from a fashion shoot to another between London, Paris, New York and Milan. Check out his work @jondefranc

Jon
Nicole

Nicole is from New Hampshire, USA and lives in Brazil since 3 years. She joined the team of Barra beach club hostal and loves it.

If you are having some drinks on a beach, it's like 2am and suddenly, a guy with a fridge on its head try to sell you sushi, it can't be anyone else than Jadson. Sushi master since 6 years, he likes to perform (questionable) karate moves to impress its potential clients.

Jadson
Joana

When I asked to receptionist Joana if she could provide me a needle, she naturaly said: "ask anything, we have it!" She didn't know it yet, but that simple needle would save me twice that day. First, it was the tool that would allow me to clean the connector of my iPhone that had stopped charging. Secondly, it allowed be to stitch my only pair of shorts that were torn appart.
I actually lost the needle after using it and wasn't able to return it.
Joana is from Portugal, she first worked on an almost desert island in Bahia but today she prefers the more dynamic lifestyle of Florianopolis.

Antonela is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and now lives in Brasil. The day I wanted to shoot Antonela's portrait she kindly refused because she didn't sleep the night before and wasn't in the mood. She explained me that a very good friend of her got an accident, diving from a boat in a un-deep spot. His spine had been damaged and it's still uncertain if he will be able to walk ever again.
Her friend was about to go home in a few days after a one year trip around South America. We discussed the fact that when on a trip, you get strangely sometimes a feeling of invincibility. Nothing can happen to you... as opposed to when being home.
On one side it's nice coz it let you fully enjoy the moment, on the other, her story reminded me to still be careful at all time.

Antonela
Mariela

Mariela is Argentinian, from the coast south of Buenos Aires. She works since 1,5 month in the hostal Barra Beach Hostal. I initially planned to stay 2 days in Barra da Lagoa, but in the end I extended to 6 nights... And that have certainly something to do with the Hostal staff. After a few hours there you would feel at home.

People from abroad always have trouble with my French name but Mariela would call me by name with a almost prefect accent although I only told her once during check-in. It's interesting how such a small detail can make you feel good when arriving in a new place.

Tarlon bought my bike today. He is the owner of the only bike shop of Barra de Lagao, Florianopolis. He opened up its shop at age 16, and recently turned 19. He says he loves his job.

Tarlon
Paula

"Friends of my friends are my friends", they say. Paula is a friend of my Brasilian friend Iasa. She has been so nice to pick me up at Curitiba's bus terminal and take me directly to a samba school rehearsal. Paula studied communication and went for a year in Lille, France to study French. She is currently looking for a job in Curitiba but surprisingly confessed me that she would like to live one day in Brussels, Belgium.

When I met Iasa in Barcelona, I could never imagine that one day we would meet together in home town, Curitiba, Brazil. Iasa studied journalism, lives and works in Spain and came to visit her family for carnival.

Iasa
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Bernard is my long time friend from the boy-scouts time. Years past, we lost contact and by the time I arrived in Rio he was Consul general of Belgium in Rio the Janeiro. Thanks to his invaluable kindness and hospitality, I could enjoy my stay in Rio de Janeiro in the best way possible.

Don't be shy

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Phone: +34 679 75 56 40
Email: jm@superjeanmarc.com