Doug & Janice's World Tour Argentina Journal

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    December 22, 2010
    Welcome to Buenos Aries!

    What a beautiful city! When we arrived by ferry it was just a short ride to our hotel. Nice place – room has a kitchenette so we can save a few bucks. South America is a bit more expensive compared to Asia!

    While in B.A. we found a few bike shops – just stocking up for the long journey. While wondering around the city we ran across another political rally. This is an election year in Argentina so we expect to see a few of these. The best part was when the protestors actually walked in from of a police car…and the police backed away! Everything was fine when we were here, but apparently they tried to burn city hall later that evening.

    Tomorrow we are taking an overnight bus to Mendoza. We decided that spending weeks cycling across the papas did not sound very interesting, so we take a bus to the wine district. That will be a nice place for Christmas.

    Doug & Janice

    December 26, 2010
    Mendoza – the wine district!

    This is a beautiful area…but first, the bus ride to get here.

    We got an Executive 1st class ticket – and it was worth every peso! These buses have seats that recline completely so you can actually sleep. And they include a very nice dinner and wine… yup, wine! So after that it’s easy to sleep. Before you know it breakfast is being served.

    Mendoza is a very pretty oasis town. We are on the very dry side of the Andes Mountains but lots of trees here. And it is very strange to think of this being the wine district. They say that the wine here is consistent from year to year – well that’s probably true since it is all irrigation land. They control the amount of water.
    And the wine is very nice…and cheap! You can get a great bottle for only $3.00. This is living.

    We have a nice room with a balcony so we were able to enjoy the fireworks for Christmas. We head out tomorrow, just a short ride to Maipu and hope to visit some wineries. Then we continue south.

    Life is great!
    Janice & Doug

    January 10, 2010
    It has been an interesting ride so far. But the wind has been crazy – it goes wherever it wants, in any direction.
    We stayed in a very nice hotel in Tunuyan. Nothing there but we did meet a few very nice people. One thing that is very apparent in Argentina is siesta. This is taken very seriously and everything is closed from 2-5pm. The next day we only went 45km to Pareditas. After this point there is nothing until you get to San Rafael so we wanted to do this in one shot, with plenty of water.

    Next it was on to the Canon del Atuel. This canyon starts with a tourist area – lot of rafting down the river, rip lines, etc. We lucked out and found where the locals camped for free – nothing better than free! The second half on the canyon was very different. The river has many damns for power plants and there is a dirt road that goes to the end of the canyon. It was a spectacular ride. Started with rain and some very difficult “mud-riding”. We were able to find a great place to camp and the sun was out the next morning. This canyon is beautiful. Not huge like our Grand Canyon but the colors were crazy! No matter where you looked there was something to see.
    And at the end of the canyon as we were cycling uphill we saw the huge Condors. These birds are so big you wonder how they cane even fly.

    So another 2 days – with a great tail wind this time, and we arrived in Malargue. And the Annual Goat Festival! Difficult finding a hotel room so we had to change hotels a few times. Actually they are big on cabanas here. We have a great one tonight, a lot better for us than a hotel room.

    This is the 25th Annual Goat Festival. Rows of cooking goats (roasting over coals), gaucho games, traditional dancing and music. Lots of fun!

    It has been a nice couple of days here. We are very close to the mountains and this is also a big winter ski area. Maybe we’ll get down here for skiing some day.

    Loving life,
    Janice and Doug

    Argentina has been great for wild camping. Yes, sometimes it’s difficult since there are fences around all the ranches, but when we find a spot it is great. Very different places, one night on the gravel barge of a river, another night only a few yards from the road but completely hidden and the strangest was in the town square. We saw some backpackers setting up their tents so we joined them. The strangest part was ‘the dogs’. There must have been more dogs in this town than people. And they barked all night. How do they do that?
    The difficult part of Argentina is this desert. It has been crazy dry. No rivers, no people, just hot and dry. We figure we can carry enough water for 2 days so we try to plan our route accordingly.
    What we can’t tell from the map is the condition of the roads. When we think we will be on pavement it may suddenly change to dirt. And the ‘washboard’ ruts are killers.

    We decided this was just too much heat, time to cross the Andes to the ‘wet’ side.

    We got to the Argentina border control and found that it was another 20 miles until we got to the Chile border control. Half way we setup our tent and were ready for a night at the top of the pass in ‘no-man’s land’. But very soon the Argentine guards decided to visit and tell us to leave. They wanted to take us back to the border post (Back downhill!). Well, after much “negotiation” Doug was able to convince them to take us to the Chile border. We did get to sleep at the top of the pass – but on the Chile side.

    Welcome to Chile!
    Janice and Doug