Back in Mendoza
We began this journey in January by crossing the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza. After some 4,400 km through Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, with a month off cycling due to Chris’s arm injury, we now find ourselves back in Mendoza; we’ve closed the loop. The fall weather makes for great riding temperatures, but whether we go back over the pass (3,100 m) back to Santiago by bike or by bus remains to be seen. Chris has recently developed an Achilles tendon problem.
2011/05/09: To La Paz GNC Service Station Camp 117 km
We rolled west out of San Luis on a straight road across flat terrain, and decided to keep cranking out the distance rather than stop at a hot-spring. At the boundary between San Luis and Mendoza provinces, we ate a hearty trucker’s lunch.
We rolled into the natural gas service station at La Paz for a 5:00 p.m. coffee break, and the friendly staff invited us to camp in their picnic area. We’d planned to go a little further that evening, thinking we might be able to reach Mendoza the next day, but we accepted the kind offer instead. With picnic tables, a shower, clean bathrooms, coffee shop and even WiFi, how could we refuse?
2011/05/10: To San Martin 105 km
We had good coffee and media lunas (croisssants) for breakfast in the gas station coffee shop. When we set out, at times riding on a newly paved portion of the highway that was not yet open to normal traffic, and at times on a small parallel side road as we began to move into the wine growing area.
At a lunch stop, a man came up and asked where we were from. This was unremarkable, but when I said we were Canadian, his response was not the usual. He went on to ask whether we’d been further south near Bariloche a few months earlier, because his brother had talked to “a white-haired Canadian woman who was down that way pedalling around South America with her husband.” It’s quite likely that it was indeed us that his brother had met. It’s a rather odd feeling to be some sort of road legend! I wonder if they’ll erect a roadside shrine to us next, endow us with miraculous powers, and leave us piles of offerings? I hope not.
We found ourselves battling strong side-winds for much of the day, and so did not reach Mendoza, but stopped at a hotel in the satellite town of San Martin.
2011/05/11: To Mendoza 57 km
We continued toward Mendoza, passing through Maipú. It was good to see the Andes again! Once in the city centre, we found digs at a hostel where we’ll contemplate how to wrap up this journey.