“If you can’t be with the (bike) you love; love the (bike) you’re with.” – Stephen Stills
Happy New Year! 2017 was epic and now I have my sights set for an equally awesome and challenging 2018. To start things off, I bought a new bike in Buenos Aires. After Mariano (Nano) and I reviewed the used bike site “Mercado Libre” a handful of times and checked out a number of bikes stores (used bike stores don’t exist), I finally decided on an Argentinian made bike called, “Olmo.” It’s a 27 gear Mt. bike with middle of the road Shimano components (sorry bike geeks that’s all I’ve got for you at the moment! As usual, I was more focused on the colors). I’m not totally in love with this bad boy (yet?). I need time to process this new relationship. To help the transition, I brought the same Schwalbe tires that I used on my Surly last year, and a friend (Jain!) who is coming to Argentina this month graciously agreed to bring my beloved pedals…who knew you could fall in love with pedals?
In Argentina, you can’t try out bikes before you buy them and you can’t bring them back if they don’t work. All I could do was sit on it in the store and get a general idea of the fit. Along with the bike, I also needed a rear rack, fenders, water bottle cage and a new adjustable stem for the handlebars. When it came time to pay, I handed the cashier a wad of crisp $100 bills that I brought just for this occasion. Nano told the owner that I didn’t need a receipt. Suddenly, this transaction became a whole lot sweeter. The owner threw in all the extras, and I walked out paying only the price of the bike. This generous exchange helped ratchet up the love factor just a bit!
With that part of the adventure over, we are now trying to figure out how we will get to the start of our trip. We want to start either in Bariloche or San Marin de Los Andes, both situated along the spine of the Andes in the western edge of Argentina. Both are about a 20hr drive from BsAs. Painful! We looked into flying (2hrs) but the price was outrageous for us ($240 one way!! That’s equal to three weeks of travel for me.). We are hoping for some sort of carpooling or ride-share situation but will also consider a bus (20 freaking hours on a bus!!) or hitchhiking. Realistically, no one is going to pick up two people with two bikes and tons of gear leaving BsAs, but never say never.
Before we start our bike adventure at the end of January, we are taking Nano’s 13yr.old son on a two-week road trip about 1,100Km west into the Andes region starting in Mendoza and working our way south. We plan to do a lot of camping, hiking, swimming and exploring. Buenos Aires is merciless at this time of year in terms of the heat and humidity. It’s one thing if you can refresh in cool water or escape to a higher elevation, but in Buenos Aires Provence those options do not exist. We will visit the mountain areas of Mendoza, Soneando and Malargue along Route 40. This zone is also scorching hot, but escape into the higher elevations in the foothills of the Andes offers occasional mountain lakes, rivers and cooler temperatures.
Oh ya, Christmas and New Year’s Eve were super fun with Nano’s very warm and welcoming family. The traditions here in Latin America and more specifically Argentina are very different from the USA. To get an idea, folks start to gather around 10:00pm and eat dinner around 11pm. Then, and this is my favorite part, they eat ice-cream! Here, because of the heat, instead of sitting by the fire drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas carols, you sit outside on the patio, eat ice-cream and listen to Electronica or whatever is hip at the time. Buenos Aires has delicious ice-cream. On Christmas Eve and New Years Eve all the ice-cream stores are filled with people buying quarts of ice-cream. Brilliant!
To end the year, I was looking over photos and video from last year and found this interview archive from Tornquist, Argentina. I decided to post it here although it is in Spanish. The radio host asked me questions super fast then barely gave me time to answer, so I had to speak in Spanish as fast as I could. It’s not pretty. If you speak Spanish, it will no doubt make you laugh. If you don’t speak Spanish, you will laugh just the same!
Wishing everyone exciting adventures in the New Year whether it be exploring what your neighborhood has to offer or stepping into uncharted territory. Discovery at any level is life affirming!