Hola from Argentina! I’ve stepped back through the portal into the alternate reality which is South America and more specifically, Argentina. I’m starting to regain my equilibrium after feeling a bit discombobulated the first couple days. Bouncing back and forth between hemispheres can be challenging. You have to get your head around a different language, culture, climate, time zone, cuisine, and season. Thankfully, I adapt relatively easily.
What am I doing? Why am I back here? What’s your plan you ask? All good questions! I’ll give you the short answer. During my epic Bolivia to Ushuaia bike ride, I met a like-minded “chico” from Buenos Aires (BsAs), Argentina. We rode together for a couple of months. Life was good. After six months apart, we decided that we play well together and that we’d like to re-ride the Carretera Austral in southern Chile this time in slow-motion adding backpacking to the mix. So, long story short…here I am!
As it’s spring in the southern hemisphere, I’m enjoying warm temperatures, walks along the Rio de la Plata, the Mar de Plata International Film Festival (415k south of BsAs) and long weekend road trips.
Last week we hiked “Cerro de Tres Picos.” At 1,239m (4,064ft.) it is the highest peak in Buenos Aires Province which is as flat as a pancake in the rest of the province. The “mountain” is 540k southwest of Buenos Aires (BsAs), basically a seven hour drive with breaks included. We hiked to the “Cueva de Los Guanacos” (cave of the Guanacos) and camped out. The following morning we hid our packs and summited. Buenisimo to be outside in nature again after being in the big city for nearly three weeks.
We also visited the once submerged city of Epecuen. In 1985, the city was flooded with water from Lake Epecuen. Residents evacuated never to return. There is a great little video of a free-style biker named Danny MacAskil (from Scotland) who rides over the ruins. Definitely worth watching. It’s like ballet on two wheels over eerie ruins. Must see T.V!
Along our route, we stopped and marveled at the architecture of Francisco Salamone. Francisco is an Italian-Argentinian (1897-1959) who was commissioned from 1936-1940 to go out into the rural farming communities in the interior of the province of BsAs and built imposing Art Deco structures in the most unlikely of places. The hope was that the sophisticated folks of the capital would want to move out and populate the frontier towns when they saw the mighty architectural marvels. This plan never worked. Today when you drive through these small towns you’re rewarded with the sheer delight of finding these hidden gems of power and authority in the “middle of nowhere.”
In addition to what I’ve been up to, I plan to add a little cultural or geographical note to each blog (forever the teacher). I’ll start with the “Rio de la Plata” or “River Plate” as they say in English. The Rio de la Plata is about 10 blocks east of Mariano’s (Nano) apt. here in the Neighborhood of Vicente Lopez. It is the widest river in the world at a maximum of 140 miles wide. The Parana River, the second longest river in South America after the Amazon, and the Uruguay River both flow into this silty beast. The big tease for me, being a huge fan of water, is that you can’t swim in it; it’s too polluted. That said, it’s still nice to walk to the river’s edge or along it’s twists and turns and enjoy a mate under a Jacaranda tree. (Oh ya, in case you’re a soccer fan, one of Argentina’s biggest soccer teams is called, “River Plate” after this river.)
Last but not least, I have a dilemma. Perhaps you have words of wisdom for me? I did not bring my bike with me this time. It cost a ton of money – around $600 – to schlep it back and forth, so I decided to just buy one here. Ha! Easier said than done. Bikes here are expensive and kinda crappy. Buying a used bike is also expense and then you get a real crappy bike. I can get a better deal in Chile, but I have to go to Chile to get the deal. We wanted to start to ride before Chile which complicates things even more.
…So, I’m throwing positive bike vides your way…if you have any ideas or know of anyone who has a decent bike they want to sell here in BsAs or even Mendoza, Argentina please pass along the contact. If you know of anyone who would like to donate a bike or sponsor me in exchange for awesome photos and video that would be pretty spectacular as well. I have a sponsor letter if anyone is interested. I wrote to a local bike company but haven’t received a response YET. You never know!
En fin, as they say in Argentina, hugs from the far side. Stay tuned for the next episode.