2011/01/19: 111 km to Junuyan
Leaving Mendoza we found a bike path heading south. Rather than take the Ruta 40, which is very busy here, we headed east through vineyards and and over a ridge, returning eventually to the 40 and a hotel at Junuyan. At a small gas station where we bought orange juice, a five year old girl was helping abuelito (Grandpa)mind the shop. I showed her a photo of Julianne, my five year old great niece, and she picked me small flowers. Then I gave her a small flag pin, explaining the hoja de arce (maple leaf). At Grandpa’s suggestion she gave la senora (me) a besito, a nice embrace to say thank you. I was a rather sweaty senora, unfortunately.
We both realized that we had areas of weeping blisters (i.e. second degree burns) from previous sun exposure, me on legs and Chris on hands. We were happy to lie in an air conditioned room, but also vowed to be more generous with the sunscreen in future.
2011/01/20: 97 km to camp in scrub
We started as soon as hotel breakfast would allow, but it quickly got hot as blazes. Shade is scarce almost non-existant between towns. We had a siesta in the park in a small town where the 40 diverges from the more major road to San Rafael, discussing route options in a small tourist info office. The 40 was feo (ugly,not nice) they said. It looked like very loose gravel, and we even tried it for a short way, but there would have been only two water refill possibilities in the next 100 km. We took the more conservative route to San Rafael,stopping to camp in the scrub at about 20:00. We are on a pretty dry and desolate plane, outside the grape growing areas which are irrigated.
2011/01/21: 61 km to San Rafael
We started good and early, and rode quickly into San Rafael as the heat rose. We had gradually dropped in elevation, which made a fast ride but it was now even hotter. There was discussion of whether to splurge on a better hotel with a pool or Air Con, but we didn’t. It’s high season and some were full. So we’ll be spending our day off in a very stuffy hot place, and I am really feeling the heat. Still, people are friendly, and we managed to run into young Juan, the lad of about 11 or 12 from the swimming pool at the campground in Potrerillos, who advised us on the best geladeria (ice cream place) in town. The establishment was aptly named La Deliciosa.
Perhaps by coming as far east as San Rafael we’ve got too low and too far from the Andes, hence it feels as if we are getting roasted like meat on an Argentinian grill. Our route from here may correct this problem by taking us closer to the mountains again. If it doesn’t, one of us may be using her thumb and looking for space in the back of a truck.