Happy New Year! I’m back on the grid for a minute. Please forgive my sporadic posts (My last post did not link to FB; feel free to go directly to my blog to check it out). It’s difficult to be on a schedule when my days and wifi are unpredictable 😬.
I continue to ride on Route 40 which starts on the boarder with Bolivia and ends in Ushuaia. A 5,000+ kilometer road traversing the entire continent of Argentina from head to toe. The three components of this trip that make this adventure exciting and unpredictable are the views, the people I meet along the way, and the places I end up staying at night. When I pack up and leave in the morning, I have in mind my destination for the day, but it is only a rough estimation. Weather, road conditions, or the people I meet could change everything in a nano-second and often do. I have learned not to hang on tight to any pre-conceived plans but rather to let lose and let serendipity guide me.
In the town of Pareditas, I returned to sporadic patches of the dreaded “ripio.” From there I rode to a small fishing village called, Agua del Toro. Since I was the only woman in town, I decided to pay a visit to the small police dispatch to see if I could camp on their property. Sergio, the only policeman assigned to this location, invited me to sleep in the dorm room while he slept on the couch. In the morning he had breakfast ready for me before I took off for the day!
Two days later, I was pushing my bike up a hill in some of the strongest headwinds that I have encountered so far. I simply was not progressing. Pablo and his family saw my struggle and invited me to stay on their farm for the night and try again early the next morning before the winds picked up. Again, I ate dinner with them, breakfast the next morning and they packed me a “to go” lunch. I am moved beyond words each time by this unbelievable hospitality and generosity towards strangers.
In Buta Ranquil, I met the first bikers since Bolivia – a Swiss couple and an Argentinian man. I had the pleasure of riding with them for a couple days. The first day we camped out in someone’s back yard and the second day we made it to the municipal campground in town. It was fun to share stories, a meal and company.
The Swiss continued on to Chile just over the pass and I continued on Route 40 with Mariano, the Argentinian.
After a week of riding together with a similar pace, Mariano invited me to join him with his friend Guillermo whom he was on the way to meet in Zapala. On the morning we met Guillermo, the local news came alone and asked if they could interview us. We were thrilled! Of course, I was afraid of making a fool out of myself with my awful Spanish. Oh well, that was inevitable! Note to self…always comb your hair before leaving your tent/hostel/school/church/wherever/ in the morning.
The three of us decided to veer off Route 40 for a while and ride a more scenic, if not more challenging route around the Seven Lakes district set in the gorgeous Andes Mts. Well worth the effort so far! We spent the first two days fighting horrible heads winds which caused us to stop short of our destinations most days causing a ripple effect of never exactly reaching our destinations on time. No worries! The first night we slept in a magical cave, the second night the military invited us to stay in their guest rooms (The building and setting straight out of “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson), the next night we camped out along a gorgeous river and the following night a couple we passed on the road in Junin de los Andes invited us to their house for water and then eventually to stay the night! I had my first Argentinian asado with them…Yummy!
We finally made it to Villa Angostura for New Years Eve about 50 miles short of our original destination of Bariloche, but not bad considering weather conditions, washboards and sand roads, Mariano getting sick from the water we drank from the river (went to the hospital in the ambulance from our camp site then had to continue riding because of the rain) and general lack of sleep!
Tomorrow we will finally ride into the ever elusive Bariloche. I’m super excited to begin 2017 on my bike with new friends. Life is sweet!
Wishing you and yours the best in 2017! Un abrazo fuerte!!
PS. If you’d like to see the interview, you can find it on my FB page or on YouTube at YouTube/TV Coop Zapala