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Archive for October, 2005

Back in Argentina with the hammer down

Friday, October 28th, 2005

We have hit the ground running in Argentina with a hiss and a roar, though our previous experiences here still run shivers down our spines to think about. The topography and climate have changed dramatically. The lifestyle, attitudes and circumstance of the people we meet also continues to develop in each small town as we head north. The only constant is the riding itself, except for today our second day off the bike since the 3rd of September wahooo. We have knocked out another 2,500km in just under 2 months which takes us to 3,600km total. Full statistics in “Time and distance blog” Our biggest day so far has been 212km.

As we head north towns are becoming less old fashioned and more old school. Instead of ox we see prehistoric tractors making there way through the fields. Tumble weed style pub meeting points in the middle of nowhere are replaced by the odd public telephone house. Towns have Tourist information that are open with people inside who are not surprised to see us. It is like cycling through a time machine and is giving us a great South American history lesson.

Some of the traits of the locals – generally are more travelled, though many have not been to Buenas Aires or outside their province. I have learned that saying “I do not know” is not something people here are able to say. Whether they know or not they give you an answer which can be anything from accurate to a wild guess. This is particularly tough when related to distance and involves another 50km or riding at the end of a day. So we are now finely tuned experts in the art of random guess spotting.

Siesta time is now only 2 hours instead or 4 or even 5 in some previous towns. It is a wonder shops open at all, we thought for a while some shop owners must look out side check there is no one there, open then quickly close for the day sighing with relief that no one was able to make it to the door. One of the funnies is camp grounds and many shops that are open only in summer. This has worked out well as we have said “no problem can we put our tent up”? With a puzzled look the answer will be yes but there is no way of paying, so we have stayed for free in many camp grounds, highly recommended!

We also now have an element of respect about town when we talk about where we have cycled from which is a great way to make friends and a perfect topic of conversation. I normally walk into a shop and they ask where I have ridden from, they think it is incredible then see Angela and just about keel over with disbelief before giving us food along with plenty of help and information.

I was a little worried as to how Angela would handle the riding but she is doing scarily well, in fact she is an excellent cyclist. We load my bike up with food, water, tent etc which fully loaded weighs more than she does. She then sits on my wheel (drafts for the non cyclists) and can ride any speed, any distance I can without exception. A few times in strong head winds she has tried to encourage me, I have then explained that after 6 or 7 hours riding in a strong head wind I don´t always like being told “you can go faster, this is easy” while I try to hold a straight line and not get blown off the bike.

We are in a ‘just get there’ phase at the moment after our picturesque crossing of the Andes and looking forward to San Rafael and Mendoza where we will sample their wine which is world famous in Argentina and put our feet up with some kayaking and trekking for a laugh.

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