“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” – H.G.Wells
It seems like lite-years since we left San Pedro de Atacama, Chile but it’s only been 7 days! That’s what happens when you’re constantly on the move. We rode from Chile to Argentina on the Paso Jama which goes up and up seemingly forever. The payoff is that it’s paved! Along this road is the A.L.M. A. International astronomy station where we were told that a scene of the James Bond movie “Spectre” was filmed (the part with Javier Bardem). We camped out one night at the top in the high winds and freezing cold before a 70 mile cruise to the Argentinian boarder.
We were treated like royalty at immigration. We were ushered to the front of the line AND, most importantly, we didn’t have to give up our fruits or vegetables! I think they saw a meltdown coming from me at the mere suggestion and decided it wasn’t worth it!
We then rode the 3 minutes to the Argentina equivalent of the Seven-Eleven. I felt like we had entered the land of milk and honey! I saw the espresso machine and immediately ordered a cappuccino, followed by a coke, and alfajores (cookies with yummy dulce de leche inside/that’s carmel to you and me). They had wifi and…drum roll…rooms for rent! Why leave?
My illusions of Argentina were quickly squelched when we immediately jumped back onto dirt rode intermingled with sand and the dreaded “ripio” or washboard that completely rearranges my internal organs and messes with my mind. I want to say F-you Argentina, you cheap bastard, pave your bloody roads, but then I look up and am completely astounded by otherworldly natural beauty and decide to soften my wrath.
We hit the celebration of Día de los Muertos or Todos Santos as it’s called in Northern Argentina
The cemeteries are simply gorgeous!
Observations/Lessons learned along the way…
- People are generous and want to help! In Bolivia the people on Jeep tours would often offer us water. We always needed it and it always put a lump in my throat and brought tears to my eyes. This small gesture was HUGE after miles of being parched and dehydrated. Never underestimate even the tiniest gesture of kindness.
- Okay, I know I am right handed, but I never realized I am right bunned as well until this trip! It seems I favor the right cheek which means I am constantly resting and working that muscle while the left side goes totally ignored. By the end of this trip, I will have a right bun that J-Lo would be jealous of and a left side only Ghandi’s mother could love.
- The grass is not always greener! When riding on dirt, sand, or ripio you are constantly looking for the part of the road that looks the smoothest. When you are on one track, the other track looks better, so you bust your butt through thick sand to weave over to “smooth” road. Once you are there, you realize it is worse than your original track, so you she-hulk to get back over to the original stretch. Soon, you forget this lesson and once again you are making a gargantuan effort to change tracks. Your brain just wants out of this mess and therefore it has nano-second memory and that is how your day is spent riding!
- Along those same lines, you must develop a riding strategy. To stay on top of my game, I look at the road right under my tires most of the time. I’ve come to realize that the road is out go get me and will eff me up if I get cocky and, say, try to enjoy the scenery or, adjust my sunglasses, or pull the hair away from my eyes. But, you can’t just look under your tires. You have to be savvy and also look about five or even ten feet ahead of you to find the path of least resistance. Every once-in-a-while you look long term ahead…oh sh*t, there’s a river or a big hill or a llama crossing ahead. On any given day, I’m managing the immediate moment, planning a little ahead, and hoping the best for what lies just out of sight…hmmm, sounds like life!
- Adventure lies deep within all of us. This has become very apparent on this ride. I have never felt so much like a rock star in all my life as here on the open road. We are constantly being honked at, given thumbs up, waved at, photographed and videotaped. People are curious about our bikes, distances, where we come from and where we are going. People are supportive and give me the strength, courage and resources necessary to go forth and conquer!