Riding south of Mendoza things were pretty flat and fast. Because we were bike touring random “things” always seemed to pop up around the corner. One day south we saw a lot of cars parked along a desolate section of Route 40….so we stopped. Turned out Sunday is greyhound racing day, talk about quick acceleration those things have mad pick up.
That night we camped with a family who had a pair of plum trees. In the morning we each put 10 or so in our jerseys. Of course, by the afternoon we had forgotten the last 3, sat down some place and had jam running down our backsides.
The road to San Rafael was mind-numbing, over 40km through the Pampas (arrid prairies) without a single turn. What made it even harder was that there were telephone poles beside the road for most of it. So even though we could not see the road past the horizon we could see from the poles that it continued on relentlessly straight. Some locals stopped at the same lunch area as us and gave us an old map, and some cola.
In town we met a couple of great kids who helped us out finding a bike shop, food, and free camping. There was even a velodrome where I worked up a good sweat doing some hot laps with the trailer.
In the morning we were off for another long remote stretch in the Pampas, then our first stretches of Rrrrripio road, which is pure and simple gravel. Once the gravel turns into the inevitable dust, they have a grader head out and push aside the softest part, exposing the more solid layer further down… until it gets all dusty again and another grading is needed. Like snow plowing I suppose.
We of course practiced the national past time of grilling. The meat here, especially the beef is fantastic. There is not a magical breed of cows that taste better, they simply dope the animals and in restaurants heap on the MSG more often than not. Fresh is one of the keys, every local grocery store has a butcher on hand with a line up.
In Chos Malal (ominous town name) we met Greg, and had an epic day camping out at the fire station. We lost food to a local animal for the 3rd camping spot in a row.
Despite travelling such relatively short distances, we could still see that there were slight changes in the countryside now. We had a pleasant afternoon of rain before Las Lajas. Crossing back into Chile we got to see trees again.
Then we booked it to Pucon, party city for the Chilean elite during the summer. Somehow there are no large, or even bad-looking people there…
This is also the start of the lakes route, which has a series of lakes, and stunning active and semi-active volcanoes (Chile has over 100 of these).