A Travellerspoint blog

Argentina continues - Chilecito to Mendoza

Another week on the bike and the Andes continue to impress.

24th October Chilecito to bush camp Villa Union 121km / 1670m

I loved today. Back in the mountains, rather than riding beside them and this is reflected in the climbing today. It was 20km up then 20km down, 30km up then 30km down and then flat with a strong crosswind for the last 20km.
As I said, I really loved today. Mountains, music, me and the bike. I had a good day by myself just riding and thinking. About? My future café/restaurant and what I want it to be, invented some new recipes (Just ideas in my head – I can’t guarantee they work until I try them) and of course Erin and our fun plans for the next 12 months and more.
The morning began with us heading west from Chilecito up into the mountains we’d been looking at. If you think of the first part as two sides of a square, there was the highway option of south, then west. We took a traffic-less unsealed road up into the mountains, heading west, then turned south and joined back up with Ruta 40, the national highway that we will use a fair bit on our journey south. I loved the way we took the road less travelled. The ‘Andes Trail’ again.

Is this a basura tree? Look at all the rubbish.
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A roadside shrine. One of many I pass daily.
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I stopped in the town of Sanogasta (Love that town name.) for a Coke with Rigo before continuing. When I stopped a bit later to enjoy my banana, it was not to be. The bumpy gravel road had not only destroyed the banana in my handlebar bag, it had oozed banana into my phone and it too was a mess. I cleaned it up, and continued. At the end of the day I realised it was not on and wouldn’t turn on. I found banana all inside it too and even over the battery, which had fried. Why don’t Nokia make their phones banana-proof. Surely banana in bar bag is a common threat? So, short story, my phone got banana-ed and no longer works. No more SMS for Erin.

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On rejoining the highway, I said to Wilbert that I’d loved the route so far. He replied that I’d love what’s coming up. Did I or what? Such beautiful red rocks, cacti galore and canyons and cliffs. I’m back in the mountains! (Not just near them on a flat road.) I wasn’t going to take more photos of cacti (Did I tell you I love cacti?) but I couldn’t help myself! Here are some photos from my ride until lunch. A special moment – no photo – was a condor flying overhead. The shadow across the road caught my attention and when I looked up, there it was in all it’s wide-winged splendour soaring on the mountain currents. I stopped and watched until it drifted away. They have a range of several hundred kilometres that they soar over. I told the guys at lunch, but it showed up at the lunch stop and passed just overhead JUST AFTER I’D LEFT!

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Look at the smiling faces in the car.
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Here is Tamsin being bailed up by the local policeman. A couple of guys in the group had set him up to stop her and ask for her passport.
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We had truck mechanical problems today, so we only had one truck tonight. As a result, we stayed in Villa Union at 119km, rather than continue along the highway for another 20 or so km. We are camped next to a service station and are using their toilets and wifi. Good news before bedtime was that the second truck showed up and has been fixed. We like our big red fire engine support vehicles. They are a fitted out perfectly for the jobs they do. It might be next to a service station, but we had a nice gumtree sunset.

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Washing dishes.
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25th October Villa Union to San Jose de Jachal – 145km / 886m climbing

Another long day - 7 hours in the saddle - but it was a good day. I had company for the second hour of the day and as there was almost no traffic, we rode side by side and chatted. It was a nice change from being on my own, but I was riding slower than I’d like and she was riding faster, so it didn’t last forever. The rest of the day was the usual – me, music, mountains and my bike. You’re always copping the full wind on your own, but that’s the lot of the last third of the riders and one of the main reasons we take longer. Most of the earlier ones ride in groups, but in those groups there are people who are always happy to hide in the group and hitch a free ride out of the wind without doing their turn at the front. Then they get to camp early enough for an afternoon sleep and then walk around telling everyone how easy it was! Try riding on your own every day!

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What did the lone bird do that the others won't let it share the line with them?
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The road today was not so much undulating, as roller coastering.
Here’s a photo of it disappearing towards the horizon with it’s ups and downs.
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They are to allow water crossings/floodways as this seems to be a drainage area for the mountains to the west.
Be careful what you wish for. As I was plodding along a straight road with it stretching all the way in front of me, I was lamenting that the scenery doesn’t change much, unlike twisting mountain roads. Before I knew it, the road was heading straight for the mountains, then into and up and then over them. Tough climbing, but the views and rock colours and formations were spectacular. I stopped here, ate my banana and enjoyed the view.

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Over the crest was a surprise I wasn’t expecting. I’d just begun the downhill and was admiring the view off the cliff just a metre to my right (I know, I should watch the road more!) when I saw it…a condor flying along the cliff face just below me. We were so close and they’re such a big bird. I can see why primitive people who needed to make up gods, chose the condor as the link between them and the ‘heavens’. As it drifted away I saw a second one higher up and silhouetted against the blue sky. They both then briefly settled on a cliff opposite me before resuming their flying, but it was too far to see if it was a nest or not. Amazing. I’m so happy to see 3 condors in two days and so close too. Here are two pictures - shame about the power lines.

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The beautiful mountains continued as I lost height before they ended with this view of a lake behind a dam.

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The rest of the ride to San Jose de Jachel was fairly flat and the countryside was picturesque rural.

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Geez the Argentinians eat late. We went out at 8pm and most places were still closed. We found somewhere open and they seated and served us drinks and then told us the chef doesn’t serve before 9pm! They had a big BBQ outside and my chorizo (not sausage, but a cut of meat like rib-eye) was delicious. I got mine with morcilla/black pudding, but no one else wanted it. As we left close to 11pm the restaurant and others around town were just filling up!
I will enjoy this hotel, as it’s our last until the end of the trip. Seven weeks of almost all camping!
Erin and mum took the chance of the last hotel to send me a letter each. Thanks.

26th October - San Jose de Jachal to Tocata 116km / 1805m climbing

OMG! Today was tough! Here’s the profile.

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I call it a ‘Yazz Day’ as ‘The Only Way is Up’! Some people saw the profile and jumped into the truck instead. I was in two minds. With such big days back to back, and late nights with less sleep, I’ve been getting more tired each day. I found it hard to get going today. I thought I’d ride until lunch and see from there.

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What a spectacular morning it was. Surrounded by such beautiful mountains I was in awe, again. I feel so privileged to be able to do this. Mountainsides painted with a giant brush in colours of red, green, cream and more. Crazy sculpted mounds that look like the handiwork of an eccentric artist.

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Christine riding through the gap with snow-capped mountains in front.

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A reflectively flat lake preceded a view that brought me nearly to tears. No, I’m not sad or unhappy, rather the opposite. Being immersed in mountains whilst physically exerting yourself is an incredible experience. Every day is a new experience. Mother Nature is god and mountains are her temple. They’re such a special place. The Andes are the longest mountain range on Earth and I’m getting to ride through them to the southern tip of South America? And you wonder why it’s emotional?

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Come lunch time, I was feeling good, so the truck was not an option. With hindsight, I should have, but I wasn’t to know how bad the road ahead was going to be. 50km? No worries. 800m climbing left to do? Again no worries. Unsealed for the last 40km? Therein was the problem. The first 10km of the gravel was fine and I was planning how soon I’d be into camp. There were mountains to my right with lenticular clouds over them and also in the sky in front of me. I enjoyed their ever-changing shapes, including the classic UFO cloud.

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The road turned to crap after 10km and after an hour of watching clouds change, the novelty wears off. I had 30 more kilometres to go on a ‘road’ that was more like a riverbed with loose deep gravel and sand, corrugations and big rocks. The whole way it went up, and up. There was no part that was even flat, let alone down. I could only manage 10kph as the road grabbed my tyres and made it SO HARD. It took me 3 hours to ride the last 30 km and it was so tiring I was knackered when I got into camp at 5pm, having left at 8am. What a tough end to a good day.
We’re camping at a police post in a remote spot. Unexpectedly, we even got to use their shower, but it was ffffffreezing. It was so cold that you soaped and rinsed one appendage at a time before getting fully under, washing the rest and getting back out as quickly as possible.

So it was a tough day. I chose to take up this challenge, but what about the poor children who are diagnosed with cancer? Them and their families didn’t choose the challenge that is their daily life, until they die. The Kids Cancer Project are directing funds into research targeting the most deadly childhood cancers. I am riding to raise money for them. I’m riding 11000 kilometres, so if you make a $110 donation, that equates to 1 cent a kilometre. Please donate if you can. http://www.everydayhero.com.au/malcolm_roberts If you include your name, I’ll thank you on my return.
I was thinking about a boy who joined our scout group back in the day. He had many things wrong with him physically, but he made up for it with his positive attitude. He was the television charity event ‘kid-of-the-year’, and he was only with us for a year before he died, but he made a lasting impression on me. Life is not about what you get dealt, but what you make of it. Even at such a young age I learnt from him that life can be short but you rarely know when. I didn’t realise it until later, when I’d formed it into a phrase, that he’d had such an impact on my life. I’ve had this quote of mine on my office wall for the last few years. ‘Fear not death, fear rather a life unlived.’ We’re all going to die, so make the most of the time you have, as you never know when it will end.

It’s Adrian’s birthday today and he likes beer, so his sister Tamsin made him a beer cake made with cans stuck together with gaffer tape, just he didn’t know it was. All he saw was a cream ‘car cake’ with smarties on it. When he stuck the knife into it he pierced a can of beer and it sprayed him with cream and beer. We had a real cake ready to share for dessert…after we’d all stopped laughing.

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My tent and the view.

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27th October - Tocata to Barreal 129km / 695m climbing

My morning view. That's a Jesus statue one the hill.

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When you climb up, you get to go down again. Today was one of those days. We’d climbed up to and slept at 2650m and now got to go back down to 1400m. The gravel road was as loose and difficult to ride as yesterday, the only difference was that it was downhill, so I could keep my speed up to try and get through the soggy gravel bits with my equally soft tyres. Sometimes even that was not enough and I had to get off and push the bike through. It was one of these soft bits that was my undoing. I was riding along happily at about 20kph and then I wasn’t..…my front wheel had dug in, and I was flying over the handlebars with the bike coming after me as my feet were still clipped in. After dusting myself off and realising I had nothing more than a bloody elbow and knee, I just had to laugh. The good thing is that despite the treacherous terrain I’ve been riding on, this is the first stack I’ve had, and better to have had this one where I did than next to one of the many 500m cliffs with no railing that I’ve cycled next to back in Peru.

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Why did the chicken cross the road?
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She was following the rooster.

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It was rough unpaved until 55km, and then it was beautiful. All day to my right was a range of mountains dusted with snow. It’s Didier’s birthday today, so we did a surprise for him at lunch. He sets up our lunch stop, which he did as normal, except no riders showed up. We were waiting at the edge of town until we had everyone together. The other truck had snuck back and picked up the stragglers and we all rode into the lunch stop together with party hats on and blowing horns, whistles and shaking maracas. The truck was behind us with the fire siren going. Not only did Didier wonder ‘What the?’ I think the town of Calingasta did too as he’d set up lunch in the plaza.

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This morning’s ride was downhill and this afternoon was climbing, apparently. Gotta love a strong tail wind. We stopped on the way and took a well worth it detour to the rock features of Cerro El Alcazar.

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Tonight we’re camped in Barreal. It must be a small town as they don’t have phone or internet!
Dinner was nice though – veal curry with gnocchi. MMmm!

28th October – Barreal to Uspallata 112km / 808m climbing

Today was a lovely day on the bike, with a couple of nice things going my way just when I needed them to. No sooner had we started than there was a lovely view of snow-capped mountains filling the horizon. Here’s part of the view, and the second photo is everyone stopping to take a photo. Our truck coming behind thought there must have been a big stack!

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Here was the first treat – it was supposed to be paved for the first 15km then unpaved until 85km. The paved lasted until 50km, which meant we only had 35km unpaved, not 70km. The sealed road up until then was new, flat and traffic-less. I rode side by side with another cyclist and it was nice to chat. We picked up another and the 3 of us rode triple-file, chatting, until the gravel started. Then you’re on your own. Too much road noise and you’re focussing on finding the right line our dealing with the corrugations vibrating you beyond any ability to talk!

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The second treat today was the tail wind that blew us into lunch. It made the unsealed so much easier, even though it was uphill. It did destroy lunch though as it made it impossible to have food laid out and my cordial cup kept filling with dust!
Road side shrines don't come more robust than this. The other type are full of plastic bottles of water.

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After lunch was uphill for a bit, then downhill at about the time the sealed road returned. What a lovely day in the mountains. We started at 1700m, climbed up to 2450 and now we’re at 2000m. All day we had snow-capped mountains to our right and by late morning, the peak of Aconcagua came into view and stayed with us the rest of the day. It’s so awesome to be cycling with the highest peak in the southern hemisphere in full view.
Here are Tamsin and Scott riding towards it.

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Very special. Perhaps you think I’m a little too sentimental about mountains, but can I suggest you book yourself a hiking trip to the Himalayas or anything in mountains where you have to contribute physical exertion and a some discomfort on your part and allow the mountains to throw a few surprises your way too. The end result as you immerse yourself in the mountains? Go and find out for yourself!

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Right place at the right time. This afternoon in Uspallata was a goucho contest. They’re Argentina’s version of a cowboy and they were running different games to show off their horsemanship. In this one, they’re using barrels as a slalom course.

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After dinner I headed back into town to return to the café we’d been to in the arvo and used the internet. I got there at 9pm to try and update my blog, and they turned the lights out on me 45 minutes later. Why did I find the only place that shuts so early?

29th October - Uspallata to Mendoza 117km / 1270m climbing

I am looking forward to the double rest days waiting for us in Mendoza, but before then I have a mountain to climb. It was 1200m climbing over 30kms first thing this morning. Spectacular scenery - yet again.

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Cross on the top.
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Lunch was at the top at 2748m, then it was an exhilarating downhill, the likes of which I’ve not had since Peru. Narrow gravel track, precipitous drop just a metre away and steep downhill to keep the speed on the edge of control. Add dodging fallen rocks, the odd oncoming car and unmarked 90 degree turns with no railing and a 500m cliff and you can start to get the picture of why it’s such a buzz. The views too were spectacular, but that’s mountains for you. Clouds swirled around me, above me and below me, changing the temperature in a matter of metres from pleasantly warm to freezing cold.

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How many hairpin bends are there?
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Watch out for savage wildlife.
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From the bottom to Mendoza was a straight slog into a headwind. Old concrete roads are a real crack up, but I wasn’t laughing. The mountain I was heading to disappeared behind a wall of water from the gathering storm clouds, so I dressed ready to get drenched, but it didn’t happen. The sun came out and made me too hot and the rain passed to my right. Close call.

Roadside flowers.
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So here I am in Mendoza, 7000km done and 4000 more to go. It’s been an amazing journey so far and based on your positive feedback, it’s nice to know that the effort I put into this blog is appreciated. There’s been some tough times and some nice downhills too, but I’m really glad to have stayed well and not been in the truck and not riding since far north Peru when I had that stomach bug. Incapable of riding as I was, I still hated being in the truck. The scenery was spectacular and I had to look at it from inside a vehicle. It’s amazing to be riding and everything envelops you. You feel everything in a way you don’t in a vehicle. We feel the wind, temperature and sun on our skin. If there’s a photo to take, it’s not a problem to do so. Workmen cheering me on? No probs to stop and chat and tell them what we’re up to. All this and more for those who cycle. It’s been a really tough 6 days with every day being over 100km and sometimes I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I did. I rode 730 km in 6 days.
We’re in a campsite on the edge of Mendoza. It’s very green and peaceful, but a bit out of town.

Tonight we had a hat party. Anna and her 67 year old cyclist dad Paul, as well as Kirstin’s parents, are leaving us and others are joining. We had a couple of speeches from those leaving. Arunas in the pink shower cap is joining us until Ushuaia.

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It was a fun night and went late, much to the consternation of those in the group who don’t drink and went to their tent early. (Maybe they should have wandered around in boxer shorts and told us to turn it down? It worked for me in Peru!)
After being the water fairy for those still up, I went to bed at 2am.

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30th October - Rest day #1 in Mendoza

There were a few hangovers today, but I wasn’t one of them. Salta was still fresh in my mind and I had a lunch I wanted to go to today. The lunch was at Zacardi vineyards and winery, about 40km and an expensive taxi ride out of town. The vineyards here have hail nets over them because they get a hailstorm a few times a year and it’s very destructive. They also have barrels every 10 metres or so, that they light if a frost is predicted at a bad time for the crop. We’re still at 1000m ASL. We began with a history spiel about Zacardi, then an interesting and informative tour of the barrel rooms and fermenting tanks, before sitting down to lunch together. It was an asado/barbecue and they kept bringing us different meats, all delicious.

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We ate too much and were all done at 4:30. After a string of broken promises, the 3 taxis for the 12 of us arrived 2 hours later. Here we are all sitting waiting.

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We all went into the centre of Mendoza and I met up with some others there for dinner before heading back to the campsite.

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31st October - Rest day #2 in Mendoza

The ‘usual suspects’ grabbed a taxi into town and we sat at a café and had brunch and wifi’d and chatted for a couple of hours before heading across town to a bike shop that wasn’t there. I used a café there and caught up on my blog before going for a wander.

Any idea what this sign means?
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Mendoza has a lovely big plaza and the streets around it have many trees. Walking down the mall, the usual suspects spotted me from their alfresco table and I joined them for a juice and salad. ‘Tuna salad’ was ¼ plate of corn kernels, ¼ tinned tuna, ¼ tomato wedges and ¼ hard-boiled eggs. I guess you had to mix it yourself. Dressing? Please?
I got a new phone to replace the Nokia that got banana-ed, but despite telling her I had a SIM and paying more for not getting a plan with Claro (which ironically means ‘clearly’ in Spanish), it didn’t work and turns out it was locked to Claro. When I took it back, she said, ‘Of course it is.’ Yeah! Of course. Stupid me? I told you I had a chip. Her only solution was to give me a Claro chip, which after putting money on it, turns out not to work for international SMS, which is what I wanted it for to contact Erin! My only solution will be to crack the lock code and put my other SIM into it. Claro? Yeah! I’m ‘clearly’ not happy with them.
Dinner tonight was a Chorizo Completo, which is a steak not a sausage. I think the ‘completo’ bit refers to the fried egg. How big is this? I’ve already eaten the chips, while they were hot.

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I liked Mendoza with it’s green tree-lined avenues. It had everything you wanted and was clean and tidy but it was an expensive city. Mendoza is the same latitude as Perth, so it won’t be long until we’re further south than Albany, then Melbourne and then we’ll keep heading south. The days will get longer, but it will get colder. I’m enjoying the warmth while I have it.

Posted by TheWandera 08:59 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Northern Argentina

Salta to Chilecito

17th October – Salta to bushcamp - 96km / 519m climbing

We’re one truck short as it’s not back from the mechanic, so we juggled a few things and made it work. We got told not to get to lunch too early, so we stopped at a café on the way, because we could. The ride was really nice and easy. We had distant mountains on both sides with crops between us and them. The road was lined with oaks, mulberries and other green trees. What a pleasant ride.

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At the ‘end’ of the day we stopped in the village of La Vina/the vine. With only 3km to go, a few of us stopped for an afternoon beer or two before heading to the bush camp, only to discover that we’d been misled and it was actually still 15km to camp! Oops!
Church in La Vina.

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There are shrines by the side of the road made up of all sorts of random car parts. Sometimes they even have a BBQ next to them as if the family visit and have a few drinks in memory.

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The thorny scrub on either side of the road at the end of the day reminded me of the African velt and I half expected to see a zebra crossing the road.
Tonight’s camp on a farmer’s land amongst giant cacti. Very nice.

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18th October - Bush camp to Cafayate - 94km / 940m climbing

I woke to the sounds of turkeys gobbling and roosters crowing as they wandered around our tents. I suggested turkey for dinner, not because I love turkey, but as a revenge dinner!

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This is what cactus wood looks like.
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What a spectacular day today was! More Andes awesomeness! It is a national park and the spread apart mountains from yesterday converged into a narrow valley that then became multi-coloured canyons.

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It was a bit like the day before Tupiza in Bolivia, but the big difference is that here there were tourists by the busload. It also means there are services to match, such as souvenirs for sale, like I need more stuff! I stopped at two special places. The first was The Diablo/Devil’s Canyon, which required a scramble up the rocks in my bike shoes.

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The mountains are amazing.
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The second was the ‘Amphitheatre’ where we had lunch. We became the subject of tourist’s photos as they took pictures of us and our truck! The tourists are Argentinians with enough money to travel.

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Amphitheatre behind us, these are some photos from the rest of the day.
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By the end of our day, the mountains had once again separated with a flat fertile valley in the middle. I rode with Wilbert for the last hour into Cafeyate. It’s a wine area, but the vineyards don’t appear until just near town. Some of us went to the campsite first and erected our tents, showered and changed before jumping on our bikes back to the plaza to catch up for drinks with those who’d got only that far. There they were in their cycling gear and tables full of empty bottles!

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The town plaza cathederal.
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Dinner was late tonight so as to give us time to have had a few drinks in town. Some over-indulged, which humoured the rest of us!

Back at camp.
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Don't you love the way this dog has found the warmth - right under a BBQ!
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Adrian's overgrown beard got a trim, much to the delight of Richard.
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19th October - Cafayate to Santa Maria - 78 km / 466m climbing.

Today was a ‘typical’ Bike Dreams day. That involves getting up, packed and tent down ready for a 7am breakfast, 8am departure, lunch half-way, soup on arrival at the finish and then dinner in the evening. With 4 meals a day I’m not being underfed.
The vineyards all seem to be on the south side of Cafayate as they went on for many kilometres first thing this morning.

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I loved the giant cacti that were ever-present today.

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Lunch was at the junction to a side road that goes to the Quilmes ruins 9km return. Another pre-Inca group who left a bunch of rock walls around. What really impressed me was the giant cacti everywhere and many were in flower. How big?

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See how cacti grow in a spiral?

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This afternoon was supposed to be only 10km unpaved, but in addition to that, most of the old sealed road had deteriorated to the point that it was now unpaved too.
It was really interesting that as soon as we left Salta province and passed under the ‘Welcome to Tucama Province’, the road turned to crap. From good blacktop to unmaintained ‘sealed’ road in an instant. This province seems much poorer than Salta. More like Peru than our introduction to Argy.
I was glad to reach Santa Maria and glad that it was only a short day on the bike. It was really hot out there today so an afternoon tub of ice cream in the plaza was called for.

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I have an insect bite from Salta that has blown up into a blister. I am resisting the urge to pop it. It can't get infected if it hasn't burst.

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Dinner at the campsite gave no real indication of the parties that were brewing around us. I think it’s going to be a late one as they only lit their BBQ at 10pm.

20th October - Santa Maria to Haulfin - 122 km / 680m climbing

Today was always going to be a long day, but it was made longer by the all-night parties in the campsite. It was Friday night and Argentinians go to campsites to party. It’s our fault. Silly us for going there to sleep! We thought about making lots of noise over breakfast, but we were wasting our time as they were still awake and drinking! The best we could do was all ring our bike bells as we left!
The scenery today was just wide and flat and like the more desolate and harsh parts of the Bolivian Altiplano although at 1200 – 1600m, we’re 2000m lower. The warmth was a giveaway. I’ve cold from freezing temps and water bottles to match to the equally unpalatable hot temps and hot water in my bottles. How's this for 'rush hour'?

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It was 65km to a much-appreciated lunch stop. With such a long flat road, I could see the truck and flag, then it seemed to take forever to reach it. I had nearly another 60km to go and it included 40km of rough gravel road! The last 30km came with the added sting of a headwind. I never signed up for this to be easy.

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Tonight we’re staying at some natural hot springs. At least they were ‘natural’ once upon a time. Now they’re tapped, piped and you stand under a never-ending hot shower. I took the chance to have a guilt-free long shower and shave and also did all my washing.

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21st October - Hualfin to San Blas de los Sauces 161km / 598m climbing – 100 miles in imperial!

A 100 mile day and the longest on the trip, just.
The morning light on the valley we’d just slept in was beautiful and a couple of birds of prey circling on updrafts next to the road were nice to see.

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How steep? Can you see they they ran out of up signs, so they used a down on and turned it 90 degrees?

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i told you we had some steep climbs on this trip, but this is rediculous!

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Did I tell you I like cacti? I love it when they flower. It's rare, random, and often they are very short-lived.

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Today was just LONG. Ride, ride and ride some more. I managed over 24kph for the day and came in at 6.75 hours on my speedo. I’ve had prettier days, but they can’t all be spectacular.

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By the side of the road are these shrines of plastic bottles of water. They are in memory of a lady who walked to the front line to take supplies to her soldier husband, but died of thirst on the return journey. Her suckling baby survived. They made her a saint and now they put water on the highways as a symbolic thing so that people don't die of thirst again.

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San Blas de los Sauces – what a great name for a town. Pretty saucy hey?
Today was Gilly’s 60th birthday and we celebrated together. (Most of us had stood next to her tent at 6am and woken her up with ‘Happy Birthday’ and a new verse about her using her Llama song.)

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22nd October – San Blas de los Sauces to Chilecito 119km / 842m climbing

No photos from the journey today. Dust storms are not photogenic when you're in them! Just a brown photo!
If I thought yesterday was tough, it was only a warm-up for today. WOW! Three quarters the distance, but nearly twice the climbing, but that was not the problem. The thing that made today one of the toughest days of the expedition was the howling headwind duststorm. It began at 50km when I turned south and just kept getting stronger and dustier. My average speed kept dropping. Lunch was at 70km and tucked out of the wind. Even with the wind, I figured if I could manage 17kph, I could do the remaining 50km in 3 hours. Yeah! Right! At times the wind smashed my speed to less than 10kph as the dust obscured the mountains around me. It was just a hard grind to keep slogging away and not really feeling like you’re getting anywhere fast. I didn’t get there fast, but by keeping going, I did get there. Tired and dusty, but glad to have done it. Those that did had a special affinity tonight that those that took the truck option did not. When the going got tough, the tough got going, albeit slowly!
I guess today is a good lesson for life. You love your job, relationship, or in this case for me, this journey, but these come with ‘for better and for worse’. Most of the times it’s for better, which is why we are where we are and with who we are, but there are days at work that are just a slog, or difficult times in our relationships. The thing is to keep going and before you know it, the storm has gone and……………..it’s a rest day!
We’re staying in apartments, rather than a hotel. They’ve stuck the 5 party-people together as we usually eat out together and sometimes even have a drink or two together. We have two rooms and two of us are in the beds in the living area.
Dinner was a debacle. We wandered up to the plaza and went to the first place we saw. There was just no ‘love’ in the food. Among the 5 of us, the pizzas were pre-baked bread with bits thrown on top and reheated. The chicken schnitzel was pork, and the steak someone got had a blue sauce. Not blue cheese, but blue as in the colouring used on kids party icing!
The night had a happy ending thanks to the ice cream shop next door. Choc-dipped waffle cone with nuts and 3 scoops of tasty ice cream. I deserve it after today’s ride.

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The party house lived up to its name and we had a few guests too.

23rd October – Rest day in Chilecito

With shutters on our windows, we slept nice and late.
We found a nice café on the plaza and the 5 of us grazed on food and drank coffees for two hours. The conversation ranged from high-brow to low, sometimes in a matter of moments. Where did the two hours go?

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It was now 1pm and they were closing for siesta. It is almost universal here in Argentina that places close by 1pm and don’t reopen until 5 or 6pm, but then stay open until 10. So you have a retail store that does 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. Do they actually sleep during their break? I hate it because we usually arrive at a place in the arvo = siesta, and nothing’s open.
In the arvo we all did a bit of EBM (Essential bike maintenance), which mostly involved cleaning and relubing the chain. Here’s Tamsin combining sunbaking and bike cleaning.

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Here's Richard installing a new latch on the inside of the roller door. I had to close him in for him to fit it.

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How fast does this motorbike go? NFI.

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We’d been given a tourist map of Chilecito and on it was a ‘teleferico’, which is Spanish for cable-car. Let’s do it we thought. Late afternoon we followed our map to it, only to find that it was, but it was an old rusty historical one used to transport ore from the mine to the processing plant. Bugger!

Tonight’s dinner was a success. We’d heard from others about a different place on the plaza and went there. We’d also heard they had a great lamb dish but it wasn’t on the menu. What a lot of meat. It was a shoulder and a rack of lamb that filled my plate. No carbs, vegies or sauce, just a giant plate of protein. Such good lamb though! WOW! As a final bonus, they served tap beer - a rarity – in giant mugs!

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Posted by TheWandera 09:07 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Far Northern Argentina

From the border town of La Quiaca to the city of Salta.

12th October La Quiaca to bushcamp 118km / 541m climbing

I had another good strong day on the bike. Four of us began riding together and picked up people as we went along and they jumped on our ‘train’. At one point we had 11 in the peloton. This suited today as the scenery was nothing special, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on photos, and there was a gentle headwind, so bunch riding shared the work around. We were riding two abreast and chatting and eating up the kilometres to the lunch stop when a pair of motorcycle policemen, also riding two abreast, told us off for doing so. What a change! In Peru, the police escorted us, held up traffic at junctions for us, and did what they could to make our journey safe and easy, but here in Argy, on our first day, they make it hard. Two abreast is safer because vehicles have to go right around, but when you’re single file and a car’s coming the other way, they’ll squeeze past and nearly knock you off. There wasn’t that my traffic either, so we weren’t causing problems.

Here's our lunch stop.
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Very flat scenery.
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After lunch I rode on my own, but kept up a good speed and I did the 118km in under 5 hours. The scenery made a change for the better for the last 20km with stripy mountains off to the left.

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Camped at 3600m, our campsite is precariously perched next to a cliff overlooking a river.

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You can see our trucks and some tents in this photo.

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With paved roads for the next week, I changed my tyres over this afternoon. I hope it makes it even better as I’ve had a great couple of days, and that’s been with nobblies!

How cool is this flowering cactus I found outside my tent. I’ll have to make sure I don’t step on it if I get up during the night, or I might not think it so good!

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13th October – Bushcamp Quebrada de Humahuaca to Yala 151km / 421 m climbing.

The significant thing about today is the profile – all down – and the loss of altitude from 3600m to 1500m. We get to ride down off the Altiplano.

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Before then though, we had a cold morning at altitude. The music over breakfast was 'dance' and rather than sit at frost-covered tables, we all stood up and ate breakfast in the sun and danced. Impromtu aerobics!

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The campsite view of the river.

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Apart from one night at Machu Picchu, tonight will be the first time I’ve slept at less than 3000m since August when we left the Peruvian coast and headed up to the Altiplano/high plain. This extends from Peru in the north, to Argentina in the south and covers most of Boliva. The Andes splits into two and the Altiplano is the filled in bit in between.

Here's a giant cactus and the second photo is 'cactus wood', the hard wood centre that is left behind after it dies. They're so big they need a wooden stem.

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All along the road, all through South America so far on my journey, by the road are these little 'shrines' to road death victims. Many even have fresh flowers next to them.

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Today was a day of two halves. Lunch was at 80km and I’d got there in two and a half hours and was thinking this might be a 5 hour day, even though it was 151km. Yeah! Right! There was a smashing headwind just around the corner after lunch and it never went away. The valley funnelled the wind straight into my face. It was so frustrating to be going DOWNHILL and be riding hard and still only be doing 20kph. I yelled at the wind to stop, but I think my cries were just carried away. This afternoon was a hard slog and the only positive was that I was glad that it was not uphill.
The landscape was interesting too.

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What a change in environment as we’ve come down. It’s warmer and there is so much greenery, flowering trees and birds to match. There are market gardens, rather than subsistence scratchings and everything feels altogether less on the edge of existence. The houses look more substantial and better kept, not just mud huts with a door and no windows.
Dinner tonight in the campsite was an undercover affair. Sheer luxury!

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14th October Yala to Salta – 122km / 1228m climbing

Yesterday’s map sheet had three instructions.
1) 0.0 km Leave campsite, turn right and continue road.
2) 67.0 km Tropic of Capricorn sign – continue road
3) 151.0 km Camping ‘El Refugio’. Right side before Rio Yala
How easy was that?

Todays had 24 instructions, some of them important junctions not to miss. Four of us nearly went wrong only 13km into the day, but were saved by a policeman pointing us the right way, as he’d seen the way the others went. Oops!

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Lunch was in the shade under a tree. A tree? After all that time on the Altiplano with none, I’d forgotten what they looked like.

Argentina is so different to where we’ve come from in Bolivia that it’s like a different country! There are so many signs of affluence that were lacking in Bolivia. Today I saw people doing recreational exercise such as walking, jogging and cycling. We’d think nothing of that at home, but that tells you we live in an affluent society. I never saw this behaviour in South America before now. People were just trying to get by. They and their animals were probably both underfed, which leaves little spare energy for recreational exercise.

Today was another awesome example of Bike Dream’s route-finding. Instead of the direct road to Salta, we took a lovely narrow winding road though the hills. It might have once been the original road to Salta, but now it’s just a lovely scenic road and, being a Sunday, that’s what people were using it for. It made for nice riding as although the road was very narrow, often only one lane, no one was in a hurry. More trees filled my day as they lined both sides of the road and often met in the middle. The trees were often filled with air plants and bromeliads.

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I’m told that Argentinians love getting outdoors and cranking up an asado/barbecue and if today was anything to go by, that’s true. There were people barbecuing all over the joint, so I got hungrier as the afternoon went on.

I was really glad that it was Sunday, as it made traversing the city of Salta much easier. I had to stop here as the road was full of costumed people dancing.

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My desire for an Argentinian BBQ was satisfied tonight. We had a big Bike Dreams party to celebrate half-way to Ushuaia, people leaving and people arriving. The staff cooked up a great barbecue and most of us kicked on until well past midnight. My tent was nearby and we have two rest days coming up.

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A picture of concentration as Didier watches over the barbecue.
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Boys and their barbecue.
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15th October – Rest day #1 in Salta

After last night, I needed today’s rest day. I got to Skype Erin for the first time since La Paz. Yay! There’s a little bakery just outside the campsite with good wifi. They got lots of business from us today. We just sat there in recovery mode, kept ordering things and enjoying having internet again. You don’t realise how many random websites you like to regularly visit until you don’t have them for awhile and try and catch up.
It was hot and very windy this afternoon and a dust storm blew up and over and around the campsite.

Late afternoon, several of us walked to the town plaza, via a bike shop. I grabbed some new gloves and chain oil, both consumables, but I can’t believe others are still buying things to pimp their ride. (Bar ends, bar bags and the like.)

We wandered around the city centre and ended up at the plaza and chose somewhere to eat. As we were waiting to order, we realised that most of Bike Dreams seemed to have ended up at the same place Restaurant New Time. I ordered ‘Steak New Time’ and you wouldn’t believe it, but it was Filet Mignon! This was real fillet and delicious. I’m looking forward to Argentina.

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Scott and I walked back along a mall that could have been in any Western city with the quality of shops and brands you know. The prices here are much higher than Bolivia too, so things seem expensive, until you remind yourself to compare it to home, not Bolivia. A half litre tub of ice cream made sure that we didn’t starve on the walk back to camp.

16th October – Rest day #2 in Salta

The campsite has the world’s biggest empty swimming pool.

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Café again this morning and I got my blog up to date over a couple of cappuccinos. (Yay! For both blog done and having nice coffee!)
An afternoon walk into town resulted in a haircut.
Walking back into the city centre, I saw this building.

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Here is the plaza and the cathederal from both outside and in.

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Same restaurant again tonight, but I had blue cheese calzone.

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Salta seems a nice city and I've had a couple of relaxing rest days. Now to get back on the bike and keep heading to Ushuia.

Posted by TheWandera 13:47 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Southern Bolivia – Atocha to the border with Argentina.

Crossing the Altiplano Part 3 - Bolivia saves the most stunning scenery until last.

9th October Atocha to Tupiza – 109km / 1541m climbing.

If I thought yesterday was tough, it was only a warm up for today! With twice the climbing, to over 4200m, all on gravel, it was one of my toughest days, but by the end of it, a top 10 favourite too.
The day began with a 3.5 km ride along the riverbed before getting onto the rough road. I didn’t think it was that cold this morning, but the riverbed was covered in ice, so it must have been below freezing. Maybe I’m just getting used to it.

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Today’s landscape was spectacular from the start and never let up. All day, everywhere you looked was just incredible.

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Trying to find the energy to ride strongly with the lack of oxygen at this extreme altitude was a challenge. One person described it as feeling like you’re breathing through a straw!
Lunch stop out of the wind! At least it was a tail wind!

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There was one last big climb after lunch and the road then followed a ridge line along the mountain tops at over 4000m with canyons all around, before plummeting 700m in less than 10km. 40kph on these roads is crazy, but hitting speeds of up to 60kph was insane. At that speed, any big ‘bumps’ in the road became ‘jumps’. Woo! Hoo! Large cacti surrounded me and covered the hillsides of multi-coloured canyons as I flew downhill. What an awesome day!

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With 25 km to go, we had the option of continuing on the road, or taking the riverbed the rest of the way to Tupiza. I came here to mountain bike, so it wasn’t a hard choice for me to take the river. We have rough roads in Australia, but I can’t mountain bike along a Bolivian riverbed at home! With a rest day tomorrow to wash and dry my clothes and shoes, I didn’t care how dirty or wet I got. The track crossed the river more times than I remember. The natural formations near Tupiza are spectacular, and with them on both sides of me as I rode the riverbed, it felt like I had ancient city walls on either side. The afternoon light was conducive to photography, so I took advantage of it.

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The ride along the river was the perfect end to a tough, but memorable day. If the landscape I rode through today was in the northern hemisphere, and not the boondocks of Bolivia, it would be swarming with tourists and their busses. We saw almost no one and almost had the road to ourselves. Once again, Bike Dreams scores big on awesome route-finding. Arriving in Tupiza after a long, tough day on the bike, I had a grin that would make a Cheshire cat envious.

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No internet here either. Maybe Argenina? A group of us went out for drinks, followed by a dinner of churrasco BBQ. A smaller group then had beers on the hotel roof until midnight, not realising that everyone could hear us kicking on. Oops! Lucky tomorrow is a rest day.

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10th October Rest day in Tupiza

I went exploring in the morning, but being a small town, there wasn’t much to see other than shops. I was surprised to see someone selling Kodak Gold film when the company no longer exists. I checked the ‘process before’ date and it was 2005!
Tupiza does have a lovely plaza full of mature trees, green grass and birds too.

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It wasn’t until riding the riverbed yesterday and seeing green willow trees that I realised how little green we’ve seen in Bolivia. It really is a barren country. Much of the wood I’ve seen used in recent days is actually cactus wood. They’re so big that when they die, there’s timber in the middle. It is distinctively holey.

Lunch was almuerzo menu and the main course was two deep-fried balls of mashed potato wrapped around mince. Quite tasty. I tried an internet café, but the connection was so slow as to be useless. Pages wouldn’t even open, just time out. Very frustrating. Also frustrating was finally finding the post office so I could send Erin a post card that I’ve been trying for a week to do, only to find it shut with no indication of when it opens. They were probably closed for siesta. I headed back to the hotel for 3pm as this afternoon a group of us went horse riding. What a great time we had. I hadn’t ridden in ages, but you don’t forget. There were 7 of us and the horses were in better condition and better trained than I expected. Our journey was along the bottom of a spectacular canyon called Canyon Del Inca. Incredible rock formations and cacti surrounded us. My horse was responsive and would trot, canter or gallop (and STOP!) on command.
At one point, we were all flying along at a full gallop racing each other up the canyon. With the surroundings I just described, I felt like I was in a cowboy movie. (Actually Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were shot not far from here.) After a break at the dead-end of the canyon, we returned. I wanted to canter and gallop more than I did on the way back, but the others had had enough and when I took off, their horses followed. Judging by the grins and animated chatter afterwards, a good time was had by all. I love Didier’s quote, ‘That’s the fastest I’ve ever been on a horse.’

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Dinner tonight was a small group of us a restaurant that, in addition to the usual, claimed to offer ‘vegetarian’. ‘I’ll have the vegetable lasagne.’ Sorry! I went instead for filet mignon to see how this one fared. The meat was okay, but the sauce was Continental mushroom.

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11th October Tupiza to La Quiaca – 93km / 1300m climbing

Today felt so much easier than the day into Tupiza – less distance, less climbing and a sealed road. Here's me coming out of a tunnel.

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Leaving Turpiza, the scenery continued to be beautiful, but it soon became quite flat, open and barren. I copped a dust-devil full on. It was big enough to fill the highway and swirled around me with dust and debris and tried unsuccessfully to knock me off my bike! There was a bit of climbing today, but I felt good and strong on the bike. I’m not sure what they’re putting in the lunch, but I felt even stronger and faster after lunch and made really good time to the border.

This is the Bolivian side with piled up imported goods.

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This was my last day in Bolivia as we crossed the border into Argentina just before the end of the riding. It’s two towns, one on each side of the border and we’re staying on the Argentinian side. I had to laugh at the random song that came on my MP3 player as I crossed the border – Madonna singing, ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina.’ That was the easiest border crossing I’ve ever had with no queue as there was a special bicycle lane, no searches and no paperwork on either side.

Here's the first sign for our destination - Ushuaia. It says 5121 km, but it will be about 5500 km for us as we do a couple of scenic detours and try to stay off main highways where possible.

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La Quiaca is a typical border town in that there’s nothing really special about it. Frontier towns are rarely a destination and, like us, people only ever just pass through. I went for a walk in the arvo and got a wallet full of Argentinian pesos from the bank, but didn’t find much else.
Dinner tonight was in the hotel restaurant, which didn’t even open until 8pm. (They eat late in Argentina!) My ‘churrasco completo’ turned out to be a big tender steak with two runny fried eggs on top looking at me like a pair of eyes. The chips were perfect for dipping in the eggs. Carbs and protein and not a vegetable to be found on my plate.

Closing thoughts on Bolivia.

No funny product names – sorry! I think I outdid myself in Peru.

I loved Bolivia with its friendly people. I can see why it remains a destination for backpackers and more intrepid travellers because it’s about 20 years behind its neighbours with regard to infrastructure and therefore, reliability of services. Top end tourists don’t like it if their hotel has no hot water. It seems as if Bolivia is stuck because they need the tourists to bring in much needed money, but they can’t get the tourists until they spend money they don’t have upgrading a bunch of things. That’s part of the charm of Bolivia. If you can put up with a few inconveniences, it’s a really beautiful, super cheap, and a very different country to visit. This is the second time for me and I’ve loved it both times. Such variety from the big city of La Paz, to the world’s biggest salt flat and then cactus-covered canyons. (There are tropical jungles off to the east, but we didn’t go there this time as we went south.)

The food surprised me in a good way. I lost count of the times that places had menus far longer than what they really had, but when you got something, it was usually good. The idea of buy on demand was funny. You’d order beers in a restaurant, and a staff member would run off out the front door to buy them. Frustrating for customers who have to wait, but it’s the ultimate in low inventory costs.

So, if you’re thinking of visiting South America, make sure you include Bolivia. You won’t be disappointed, except perhaps for the internet 'Dear Costumers'. Who should I dress up as?

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Posted by TheWandera 12:28 Archived in Bolivia Comments (1)

Uyuni to Atocha - Crossing the Bolivian Altiplano part 2

The Bolivian landscape just keeps getting more beautiful.

6th October Salt Hotel to Uyuni 35km

Today began with a ‘time trial’ of our own. We left at one minute intervals and rode flat out across the salt for 7km to the finish line. The combination of altitude and cold air made it really hard. You needed to suck in oxygen, but it wasn’t there and what you did breathe in was freezing cold and your lungs wanted to reject it. When everyone was finished it sounded like a hospital waiting room in winter with everyone coughing…..and coughing. I did it in 12:42 which equates to a 30km average. Everyone got into the spirit and gave it a go. It was different and fun.
Here's me coming to the finish line with Wilbert hot on my heels. I found energy (and oxygen!) I didn't know I had when I looked over my shoulder with 500m to go and saw him behind me. There was no way I was going to let him catch me!

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Waiting at the start line at the Salt Hotel. See the two Bike Dreams flags in the background.

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Sitting at the finish line as the others came in one minute apart.

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The remaining 28km to Uyuni was on a rough gravel road.

I was told that Uyuni is a tourist town, so I expected more than the dusty hole that it is. I thought it would be at least as touristy as Copacabana with it’s nice cafes all with wifi. Turns out this is a backwards place with no wifi anywhere and internet joints with the world’s slowest connection. Every restaurant sells pizza. I’m not kidding. Someone needs to open a different restaurant and offer wifi and they’d clean up.

I’d told anyone that wanted to come along to meet in reception at 4pm and we’d walk to the train cemetery 3km out of town. A train cemetery? This is a graveyard of trains. More than a century ago they started parking steam trains end to end when they were finished with them. The dry environment here has preserved them and you now have two dozen steam trains sitting in two rows just waiting to be photographed. Absolutely incredible, and if you were a train buff you’d be in heaven. I know of no other place like it anywhere. It was very photogenic, so I’ll share more than a few with you.

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The amount of rubbish blowing over the landscape was saddening. They don't seem to have tips, bins or rubbish collection in Bolivia

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Six of us went out to dinner and whilst the company was good, my meal was not. I ordered BBQ pork which came with a chop, ribs and loin, apparently. I got a small overcooked chop and a pile of rice. When I asked where the ribs and loin were I was told they don’t have any. The corn that was supposed to come with it? ‘Sorry!’ Don’t have that either, but the price didn’t change.

We kicked on to the ‘Extreme Fun Pub’ where a few other Bike Dreams people were too. Table soccer and beers followed and soon it was the small hours of the morning and we were down to 5 stayers.

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Walking back to our hotel we were attracted by the sounds of a party at the Bolivian Railway Sporting Club. It was a wedding, and before we could go, we were invited in and made very welcome. Bolivian wedding gate crashers! Dancing, drinking and wedding cake followed. My Spanish gets used every day! With shots getting passed around and the bride plying us with beer, it seemed that the object of the night was to get everyone drunk. We escaped at 4am! I’m glad tomorrow is a rest day. I’ll need it.

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7th October - Rest day in Uyuni

Sleep in to recover from last night. I got moving afternoon and went for a walk in town to get some lunch. What a tasty burger! Double everything! Just what I needed.
I wondered if Uyuni really was dead, but on exploring, this town doesn’t get any better. It’s flat-lining baby! Dry, treeless, dusty and very cold whenever the wind blows. Being Sunday, it was very quiet.

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I washed all the salt off my bike and gave it a good clean ready to continue riding tomorrow. Being a rest day, I caught up on sorting my photos ready for when I next get a working internet.
I ate at the restaurant here in the hotel tonight and waited over an hour for my pizza. This really is the town of pizza places. I did not find a place that didn’t do pizza. No roast chicken places, no Bolivian ‘typical food’ places, just pizzas. Very strange.

8th October Uyuni to Atocha - 104 km / 689m climbing

After breakfast, we had our briefing for the day. We were warned that with today being a gravel road it would be tough, and it was. Before then though, I had a llama to pass on. I gave it away with the following poem.

Llama Poem #2

Paul’s new to Bike Dreams, so I guess he didn’t know it.
When put with some people, we llamas become a poet.

I’m your new llama, and what better way to know ‘em
Listen up closely while I share with you a poem.

Unlike my sister Limpkin, who could be quite rude.
This poem’s child-friendly, as I’m a little prude.

I’ll tell you it in English, a language that’s not alien,
(Said in thick Aussie accent.) Until it gets read out by a bloody Australian.

You don’t know my name, or if I’m a girl or boy.
Don’t bother looking, I’m just a woollen toy.

My name is Ashley, which doesn’t answer the question.
It doesn’t tell my gender, you’ll have to keep on guessing.

What a llama moment, that Richard lost my sister.
It’s only been a week but already I’ve missed her.

I can’t believe you lost her. Did you have much of a hunt?
Richard! Richard! Richard! You are a careless………….person.

I’ve got long-lost twin sisters waiting for me in Argentina
(Sing next 3 lines.) They miss me but I said, ‘Don’t cry for me Marge and Tina.

All through my wild days, my harsh existence,
You’re riding through it, that’s quite a distance.

I have a llama nomination, as is the usual manner.
The person I’ll mention first is always smiling Anna.

She bought a watch for $4 and thought it was just fine.
Until she found it suspect at keeping proper time.

I have to go to someone now, a person who in haste,
Confused their tubes of nappy rash cream and toothpaste.

Why does my bum feel funny? This isn’t quite right.
Would your bum absorb the fluoride if you left it on all night?

So Paul Bridgeford, the llama comes back to you.
I think you’ve earned me again with the silly things you do.

We left together as always, but the corrugated dusty road soon spread the group out. The landscape was quite barren in this part of the altiplano. As a result, there were almost no houses, people or vehicles on the road. The lack of traffic allowed us to use whichever part of the road was the least bumpy.

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Today’s road threw everything at me that an unsealed road can – bumpy, dusty and some parts so deep in sand that you had to walk your bike through. Similar conditions and scenery continued after lunch, until about the 80km mark when I crested a hill to see this view. The formations and surroundings got better and better. Wilbert hadn’t warned us and it was a nice surprise at the end of a tough day.

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We had the option of road or riverbed for the last 7km. On Wilbert’s lead, 3 of us took the riverbed. WOW! What an even more spectacular end to a great day. It was fun to ride the bike through water crossings and get a bit dirty too.

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Here’s the view of the plaza of Atocha taken from my room. You can see our dishwashing station in the bottom corner.

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After soup and salad I went for a walk to explore the town. I also wanted to photograph an old truck that I’d seen on the way into town. Atocha seems a lovely town with friendly people, clean streets and a nice feel to it. All local food restaurants and not a pizza place to be seen. What a change from Uyuni. It’s warmer too, though the altitude is the same, at about 3650m.

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We had a couple of beers in a restaurant while some ate dinner. Later I had a hamberguesa from this little stall next to our hotel. The girl making it was enjoying herself and had a couple of girlfriends there keeping her company. We had a bit of banter and I answered the usual 20 questions while I waited for it to be made and then sat and ate it. Expensive? $1.

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Posted by TheWandera 11:35 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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