Cafayate-Santa Maria-Hualfin-San Blas -Chilicito

Great day. Although disco band outside campground played from midnight to 6 am. Oh well. And then we are up and departing at 8 am. A few pictures of grape fields and something happened. Must have been the Nescafé kicking in but my legs started turning. Why fight it, there was timing to lunch so I went with it, slowly working my way along to kilometer 49 and lunch at about 10:15. Lunch, grease up with more sunscreen, fill water bottles and onward this time at a cruising pace. I am on 5th tube of sunscreen thus far. Redo it three times a day. Still have a burnt area on left arm which was not covered in first days out of cusco.

Afternoon was a lot of gravel which was fine and little villages alongside the mountain. With a forest fire burning up one of the valley’s. Arrived at town of Santa Maria about 12:30, after 78 kilometer and a gentle 500 meter climb. We are at 1900 meters now.

Of course it is Saturday but more important it was siesta time so town was deserted. Doors locked up, everything closed. Sign on grocery store informed us they would open from 6 pm to 10pm. Walked from camp the 500 meters to plaza where supposed wifi was but it did not work. Did find a bar and it had decent wifi. Several sat outside but I found it cooler inside. Temps a comfortable mid 30s today. Amazing how two days ago reset everyone’s thermostat. Mid 30s is not bad.

Not a lot to do but caught up a bit on life back home. Texted Jeanne who was at work then she had a break. She is in break room at work and I am in a bar in Argentina. Wild. After phone call found an ATM as running low on cash. At Bolivian border turned in U.S. Dollars and got 13 pesos to the dollar. At ATM got 8 to the dollar. But no exchange market here, and running low on dollars.

Great dinner, my favorite Thai curry. Boxed wine tonight was only fair but ice cream and strawberries for desert was good. Now sitting around as it gets dark, awaiting concert to begin next door to campground. Numerous have said they need to have one for old people which would quit at 10, but I do not think that will happen. Till then listening to music of sound checks. Beautiful venue overlooking town and valley.

Has been a good three past days. Buck, who is riding again after a week of rehab, commented it is like waiting for shoe to drop. Past three days have been pleasant less than 100 k and gradual climbs. Tomorrow may change: 122 k 65% pavement with 500 meter climb over 70 kilometers. Not bad, then day after is longest day of trip 165 kilometer. At least I have something to complain about or worry about. It will be what it will be.

And Argentina interesting. As noted obviously much richer than Bolivia or Peru. In Peru it seemed most cars were Toyota, Bolivia it seemed a combo of Toyota and Nissan. Here a wide variety. Citroen, Renault, Toyota, Nissan, ford, Chevrolet. And have noted 5 or 6 ford falcons. That is as in 1965 models.

19 October Santa Maria to Hualfin 122 kilometer headwinds

Quite a day. Awake about midnight to 1 am listening to band playing Latino music. Actually good blending the instruments vocals and such. Checked decibel level in tent at 93, 300 meters from stage and to the side. Hardy who had a hotel room across town could hear it in his room. South America loves its noise. Went back to sleep about 1, but awoke again when concert over about 4 and concert goers were reveling.

Cycling was good but 20-30 kph headwind entire day. I took a few pictures near beginning and of course was soon by myself. I do not mind being alone, in fact somewhat like it, but afraid I must learn to ride with the crowd as will not survive the next months, with the coming winds. Folks were a bit concerned with me being late and alone but all ok. Arrived at 4:15 but most arrived about 2 with 5-6 taking truck.

Country was mostly flat, very desert like then arrive here a few kilometers past town of Hualfin. Entry to a desert canyon and a bush camp, but there are hot springs here. Nice little pool water temperature of 36 degrees.

2452 kilometers thus far, about a third of the distance for me. And has been a few days over a month with bike dreams. A month done two to go. Have not a clue what that means except another day cycling tomorrow.

20 October 2014 Hualfin to camp at San Blas de Los Sauces. 160 kilometer 6 hours 3 minutes of ride time from 07:30 to 3 pm. Temp in afternoon high 30s.

Great sleep last night I suppose because it was quiet and I did not set up my tent under a light. Beautiful spot with big rock walls surrounding us. Reminded me somewhat of lee’s ferry (the launch point for Grand Canyon). Early start as long day and winds yesterday have everyone a bit spooked. So alarm at 5:30 breakfast at 6:30 and depart at 7:30. Pretty good considering tents away, breakfast including wash dishes, put away tables, seats and pack gear in trucks. Breakfast today as seems usual is muesli with yogurt or milk and some cereal, rolls, and jam. Everyone seems to miss the porridge. Discussion today covered how folks miss good bread at home. United States excluded for bread, although I did set them straight about good beer in Alaska.

Today’s mantra for me was stay with pelaton. No stopping for photos, looking around, or whatever other excuses I come up with to go slow and stop. Peddle, watch the wheel in front, peddle, coast, peddle brake, peddle, keep the legs churning at about 80-90 rpm. A grouped of about 15 formed up and with a slight downhill we cruised at about 30 kph. Nice. Stopped at Belem at a coffee shop and had a good americano coffee. Basically an expresso without milk. Very good and my 4th for the day after the three Nescafé at breakfast. I seem to be caffeine powered.

Lunch at 75 k in the plaza then back to cycling. Walter the lunch truck driver had his usual great spread of rolls, meats, cheese, tomatoes, veggies, fruits, Bananas, kiwis and apples, cookies, water juice, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup. Then back on road and in the pack. Not a single car honked or rushed us. If someone was coming or a corner or whatever unsafe passing condition they waited until safe to pass. Keep in mind our pack takes up entire lane.

Walter met us at 120 k with more water as none in afternoon and hot, and chocolates. Then back to work and I was able to lead for 10 k feeling pushed along by the 13 people behind, Terry at my side keeping me informed as to proper technique for front position. (Mid lane, so as to provide best wind blockage for following and not to fast so entire pack can stay on your rear wheel). With side wind and gust we kept not quite a meter apart and front was nice as did not worry about braking so could ride with hands in varying position. Before the pelaton regrouped Jurg and I were riding 22-25 kph, in the pelaton the speed picked up to 26-30kph.

Thus arrived at campground about 3, a somewhat nice place but apparently early season yet, so again swimming pool empty, no water for toilets,(like a bush camp) but an irrigation ditch and I sat in it for a bit to cool off and get the salt off. Nice!

And as usual town is closed up tight for siesta so no beer.

Excellent dinner, again, Max barbecued sausages, with potatoes, green salad, garbanzo beans, wine, and a pudding for dessert. Took Terry’s duties after dinner so as he could go the 1 k back to town plaza where there was internet. He still stayed and washed then went to town in search of beer and internet. I decided to stay as cooled off and pleasant after dinner to just sit outside and enjoy the evening. Apparently beers hard to find but internet at the plaza.

San Blas to Chilecito Argentina. 121 kilometer 10 of green leaving San Blas then brown desert until Chilecito

Today’s ride was long hot and butt tired. Time to think. No answers but thinking. Was not ready when time for depart so basically rode alone. Nice ride for a bit with Vivean but alone after lunch. Lunch had a shade spot beside road which was pleasant otherwise direct sun overhead.

Thoughts ranged from people mostly parents and how they usually are completely unconditionally supportive. When doing the great divide I would call my dad who was blind and he always knew where I was, following via computer voice. When we went to India his words of wisdom were “have fun and be careful, they do things different there. Not better just different.”

And thoughts of the day riding were how not everyone would enjoy this. Many would be severely bored just kilometer after kilometer. Me, I was just enjoying the slowly changing scenery. The mountains to sides and wide empty valley. No shade and hot the kilometer markers marking down the distance to Ushuaia, 3900.

And sitting on sidewalk cafe watching Chilicito come alive. Took taxi from our apartment where wifi does not work to plaza about 5:30. Not much happening but now 7:30 and picking up. Little traffic at first now road and sidewalk busy. Different world.

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