Distance since Greystones: 4,273km
We type this update from the foothills of the Andés, sipping on chilled melon juice in a hot and noisy Internet cafe in Salta. We’ve had many adventures since leaving Madrid. Our first revolutionary joined us, Myself and Si got food poisoning, were overwhelmed by the generosity of the people we met, camped in some interesting places, and ground out some arduous hours in the saddle.
A month ago we packed up our bikes and flew from Madrid to Buenos Aires where we were joined by Marina . Cycling with Marina added an interesting new twist to our journey. After six weeks on the road in Europe we had become used to our routine, eat, cycle, eat, cycle, eat, camp, and we were used each other’s moods and habits. Adding a new member shook up these routines, and made us think about a group dynamic. Marina’s Spanish was an invaluable asset and saved Si and I from our Dell Boy attempts at conversation in spanish, as we’ve been learning the basics from our new team-mate.
Our first two weeks were spent in Western Uruguay, which is a cycling paradise. Friendly and safe, with relatively quiet rolling roads and an abundance of fresh fruit and beef, it was a perfect introduction to South America. We spent a relaxing christmas at a hostel beside a thermal spring, and cooked christmas dinner on a wood fire in 30 degree sunshine, we spent an even quieter New Year’s eve in a deserted hostel in the town of Mercedes.
Crossing back into Argentina we had a bit of hassle with a 3km long dam that was officially off limits for cycling. We then headed north with the intention of cycling up to the Brazilian border and the Iguazu Falls, and spent a few days on the two laned and busy highway 14 which would take us all the way to Iguazu. It was not a bicycle freindly road, narrow and very busy and we didn’t feel comfortable on it. After two days we reached the town of Chajari where we were met with overwhelming hospitality when we were invited to a BBQ, and dined on an orange farm with a charming family. Everyone warned us about what they referred to the road as the “road of death” ,route 14, so we decided to re-route to a safer road and travel to Iguazu like normal people, on a bus.
After visiting the widest waterfall in the world at Iguazu and spending a few days enjoying Caiparhinas we left Corrientes and began the 1,000km across the Chaco Plain to Salta and the foot of the Andès. The landscape proved challenging as it was quite sparsely populated, and unstimulating. A bout of food poisoning and an 80km wrong turn didn’t help matters either. We asked Marina to bus the last 400 or so kilometres to Salta, so that myself and Si could have some space, to regain our focus, and dynamic, before we hit the Andés. En route to Salta we were given a taste of things to come as the road pointed up and we were treated to a 35km uphill.
The road will get more challenging from here. There are 3,000m’s of altitude to gain before crossing into Bolivia, and we will no doubt, get good use out of our mountain tyres on the unpaved roads and have our stomachs tested again by dodgy hygeine. We are in good spirits, and the legs, and lungs are stronger than ever, and we’re looking forward to the road ahead.
We’ve also been researching an exciting route change for central Asia which includes two new “stans” and a mountain range known as “the roof of the world”, as the prospect of 4,000km through Siberia in winter time doesn’t really appeal. More info to follow when we get a clearer idea of the route we will take.