Daily Archives: November 16, 2015

Day 115/164: San Juan to Pedernal – 88km

590 meters climbing, and 145 down

The first 10 kilometres out of San Juan there was a bit of traffic and heaps of red lights. Thankfully no mini vans or taxis weaving in and out through the cyclists, but a few buses.

Once we got out of the city the next 30 kilometres was like bring in Blenheim/Marlborough – lots of vineyards, flat roads and hills in the distance. Pleasant riding.

After lunch it was back into the desert, then past a dusty quarry area, then a bit of uphill.

Tonight we were camping at Bienvendiosal Camping Municipal. The camp was about 2 kilometres up a dirt road. The camp had quite a lot of trees but it was on dirt, no grass. We have had no rain for weeks, and we passed comment that in the rainy season this place would be a mud quagmire.

Campsite at Pedernal (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Campsite at Pedernal (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Along the back of the camp was a large netting fence, with barb wire along the top, and there was a house that I assume was the caretakers house, with a fenced area with of number of horses and a young foal.

There were six camp dogs tonight watching the cooking with great interest, one was a very hungry looking very thin greyhound. No need to guess which one I fed, however he was very submissive and a few times the others got the food I was throwing to him. In the end I hand fed him.

Unfortunately the dental treatment has not sorted the problem for Sue and she is not able to ride, and in quite a lot of pain. The painkillers she is on she can only take every 12 hours, but they are only effective for about 6.

Dinner was pasta and ratatouille, salad and sausages.

Just after dinner it started to rain a little bit so everyone went off to their tents. There was a big stop bank and flood ditch/drain along the back of the camp behind my tent so I wasn’t worried.

Then it started to pour, with lots of thunder and lightning, then hail.  The stop bank and drain flooded and water came into the camp site which got totally flooded.  I was sitting in my tent on my thermal rest watching water rushing past tent on by sides and under thermal rest it was like a river.  Luckily I had put my sleeping bag and everything apart from the thermal rest into my waterproof bag by then, so everything apart from the thermal rest stayed dry.

As soon as the rain let up, which thankfully was after about half an hour, I and a number of other riders took the chance to move our tents up to higher ground. A couple of tents had been swamped completely by the water, and a couple of people slept in the trucks.

My thermal rest and tent were wet, but once I put my alpaca blanket on top of the thermal rest before my sleeping bag I was warm, if damp. The thunder and lightning went on for a while and more rain but the surface where I had moved to drained well, so no more problems during the night.

The foal got out of the enclosure and was totally spooked by the thunder and lightning, and was running around in panic. At one point he slipped over but thankfully did not seem to hurt himself. The caretaker eventually managed to catch him and put him back with his mum, and he seemed fine in the morning. No sign of any of the dogs, they will be tucked up somewhere well out of this.

Hopefully this rain will stop by the morning and not lead to another mud day! As tomorrow it is all off road. Dirt, sand, gravel, and rock!

After the storm - Fred's tent (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

After the storm – Fred’s tent (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Categories: Argentina, South American Epic | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Day 114: Rest day in San Juan

I made the most of the chance to sleep in and once again made it down to breakfast 30 minutes before the finish. Toast seems to be a regular part of the diet in Argentina as there was a toaster again.

Fred, who fell off his bike the day we rode out of Lima and broke his arm, is re-joining us again here.

My plan for the morning was to catch up with emails and blog which is getting behind. The emails got done but I then got distracted by my book and then a nap. As there is reasonable Wifi here I did get my photos for the blog up to date.

Poor Sue is still having lots of problems with her tooth, and is off to see the dentist again, hopefully this time it will be sorted. The tooth is a front tooth with an abscess and needs a root canal. Sue is on antibiotics and quite strong pain killers. it is difficult for Sue to eat and she is feeling pretty rotten, so she orders 3 eggs scrambled, eventually they come and instead of 3 eggs scrambled she gets 3 plates of scrambled eggs!

The hotels in Argentina only have one bin in the hotel rooms, which is usually really small by the toilet to put the toilet paper in, but there is no other bin in the room for other rubbish. A number of them the bins have no tops and there is no room service, so the toilet paper sits in the open bin all day which is not so pleasant, and probably leads to a number of people flushing it, which there are notices up saying not to. The rest of South America there have been bins in the room as well, and the bins in the toilet for paper mostly had lids.

There are roadside shrines throughout every country we have been through. In New Zealand we have often have roadside crosses marking the spot where someone was killed, here they have shrines. The shrines range from small and basic to large and elaborate. The small ones are the size of a kennel for a small dog and the big ones are like medium sized sheds. They sometimes have the name and the picture of the person and a few trinkets and flowers. Sometimes there are a group of shrines together.

In Argentina they are generally elaborate, they have white stones on them, lots of red flags and sometimes the Argentinean flag and numerous bottles. The bottles started appearing also in Bolivia. I was interested in the bottles and the flags. The bottles are an offering to God for the person to have safe passage to the ever after. So far I have not been to find out the reason behind the red flags. Luis (lunch truck driver who is from Brazil) is also curious and has asked a few locals and they have not been able to provide any reason. A number of the shrines have tables and a barbecue next to them. Visiting the shrine is a common occurrence, and leaving flowers etc. I guess having a family get together and a barbecue is another way of feeling closer.

I decided to have dinner at the hotel. Nelson joined me for dinner. I had steak which is quite nice. The mains come without any salad/ vegetables and chips unless you order them. It’s easy to order chips (papa fritas) but the salad is a bit hit and miss. You can’t get a mixed salad you have to order each ingredient separately. If you order tomatoes and lettuce, you get about 3 tomatoes cut up and about a quarter of a lettuce shredded and nothing else. Then oil as the dressing. The tomatoes have great flavour.

While we were eating we could hear lots of cars tooting and people cheering and singing. It turns out Argentina had just won a soccer camp. The tooting and cheering and singing went on well into the evening. I could hear it from my hotel room and thought it may make it hard to go to sleep but it didn’t keep me awake. It reminded me of my stopover in Santiago on the way here, when they had won an important final in soccer. People danced, sang, chanted, cheered, cars honked and people drove around hanging out of cars and sitting on the roofs of cars most of the night (that did keep me awake).

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