Since we were engrossed in the movie, we hadn't noticed anything weird (not even that our sleeping pads began to feel like a water bed), until I went to get up to pee and looked out and my shoes were floating away! We sat up and the water was at the very top of the waterproofing of our tent, just about to spill in at over 5" deep!
We finally limped into Mendoza, Argentina and are excited to check off that 1/3 of the country is now finished! As Ville posted in the last update, this last month has been really tough. Since we left my parents in Cusco, Peru just over a month ago, we have struggled with food challenges, a wide open spans of desert allowing for hellish headwinds and lacking water, pushes of 75-85 miles between town stops (that is a LOT of miles for loaded touring bikes), no showers, no affordable accommodations resulting in one day off in over a month, and a deterioration of our bodies. I quit writing my doctor back home because the list of my health problems has grown so large I know she will highly suggest I rest (not possible) or quit riding (also not possible), so we are pushing on and hoping to get to Ushuaia in one piece. That's the plan anyways.
After riding with Kungfu Ninja PacMan from Buenos Aires for almost two weeks, listening to his incessant, "well, in Argentina" this and "well, in Argentina" that we had gotten our hopes up so high that we almost believed by simply crossing the border from Bolivia into Argentina we would enter an oasis never been seen or felt before. So that was a gigantic disappointment when we crossed over, the road went from a giant 4'+ bike lane/shoulder to none, the more well-off Argentinians drove more cars at much higher speeds right next to our ears without a care of moving over, the headwind went to barely able to pedal forwards, and where we once could ask to camp anywhere with, "sure. no problem" we had to ask multiple people with "No. Can't camp here. This is private property." It reminded me of the scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber, where a giant bus of Hawaiian Tropic Girls pull up to Harry and Loyd and say they are looking for 2 oil boys to grease them up before competitions and the boys say, "well, your in luck! There is a town, 10 miles that way where I'm sure you'll find 2 oil boys there." We would ask an average of 7 different farmers, ranchers, even a cop! that we were tired and needed a place to sleep and were always directed up the road a ways. Great, thanks for nothing.
At least the grocery stores are stocked with more food. That's a plus. If they are ever open. Usually not. We pack a lot of food with us and make lots of sandwiches and pasta. We have FINALLY begun to meet nice people along the way here in Argentina. We met a nice couple who owned a hostel in a middle-of-nowhere town along Route 40 who gave us some wine they had made and treated us like their kids. Then, just north of San Juan we were desperate for a place to sleep out of the rain and two extremely nice construction workers welcomed us into their field station to sleep. We asked to camp under an awning with road equipment and they showed us into their barracks, gave us beds and a shower and even shared food with us. I was SO thrilled I think I made them uncomfortable with how many times I hugged them! The night before had been very eventful so maybe I was still traumatized.
The night before, the manager at the gas station in Jachal was nice enough to let us camp in the yard next to the station. The last few nights we had thunderstorms, and a big one was brewing. As we pitched the tent near the back of the property, away from the street noise, and climbed in to watch the movie Spinal Tap on Ville's cell phone, the storm hit and it POURED. Since we were engrossed in the movie, we hadn't noticed anything weird (not even that our sleeping pads began to feel like a water bed), until I went to get up to pee and looked out and my shoes were floating away! We sat up and the water was at the very top of the waterproofing of our tent, just about to spill in at over 5" deep! Histerically laughing, we hiked up our pants and slogged through the water carrying all our stuff to higher ground. Guess we had pitched the tent in the lowest spot in the yard where all the drainage pipes dumped out. Oooooops. Thankfully we had just been given a new waterproof tent from Ville's family and so the water had actually stayed out long enough for us to move to higher ground. Thanks Jokinens!!
In San Juan, we were desperate for a break and we looked at "the cheapest place in town" which was an eclectic room that smelled like cat pee for $45/night. Pass. We opted for a hostel for $35 and took a day off because my back was beginning to seize up from all the headwind. It would be our first full day off the bikes in a month. And the first night there, we met a group of Argentinean dudes from Buenos Aires, Tucuman, and San Juan, who worked in the mines up in the mountains as environmental scientists and were on a few days break. They rolled in with one of the biggest hunks of beef we had ever seen three guys plan to eat at once, stick it on the grill and after 3 hours and multiple beers and stories later, we feasted at midnight. And then they left us the leftover slab, with bread and these two thrifty bikers made it into sandwiches for lunch the next day. Thanks a million boys for your kindness!!
The red rock canyon between Salta and Cafayate was beautiful. And there was a lush green tropical forest beteen Jujuy and Salta, but otherwise, the scenery has been drab. It has allowed tons of time to zone out and actually remember back to countries, places and people we have met, enjoyed and loved along the way. I often wish we would not have committed to biking all the miles from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia and would take buses through the boring or challenging stretches, but then, it makes the great stuff really great. When we biked through 3 straight weeks of rain in Oregon and Northern California, it was the pits, but then when the sun came out finally in Fort Bragg, man was it surreal! We know at the end of this painful desert, there will be beauty coming soon. Actually, when we finally dropped down from the high plains of Bolivia to some greenery in Argentina, we could smell the plants and life growing out of the dirt. It was wild!
San Juan is a big city with 105 miles to Mendoza, also a big city. Of course there was no shoulder, but a lot of very fast, very unfriendly traffic killing everything from dogs, donkeys, owls, etc lying bloating in the sun along the road. There was a bit more greenery along the road and we are staying with Mauro and his brother Nico, Warmshowers hosts, who are awesome! Mauro just returned from a year long bicycle journey in Europe 3 months ago and has been a great guy to chat with about the trials and tribulations of cycling. He even just handed me a new t-shirt after seeing the 30-some odd holes in mine. What a guy!
Ville and I are planning to take at least 2 or 3 days off here. We desperately need the rest. And Ville's back rim is all bent up. The last month put a bunch of strain on it and we are having to wait and try and replace it with something that will make it the rest of the journey. A massive, heartfelt thank you to my cousin Jeff and his wife Vikki for their kind donation for our ride. The money is going to fix Ville's bike, pay for the renewal of this website and to take a few days much needed rest. Your generosity has helped us more than you know!
We had originally planned to bike over to Santiago, Chile to see a friend, but realized we don't have time. We are now pushing south to meet up with our friend, Robin, from Bend in El Chalten to backpack together. For us that is 1,650 miles and a month and a half away. It will be a push, but we are really excited to see a friend from home who is making the journey down to see us! Thanks so much everyone for writing us, following us, supporting us, and just being so rad. We love you all. Until next time, keep on keepin' on kids!!!
By the way, how would you say one rides a train on these tracks? Thoughts? Suggestions? Food for thought.
K.G. & Ville
In Coyhaique, Chile heading south down Carretera Austral.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
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