After last weeks sickness, we were dying to get on the road and push on to Salta. Route 16, the road we´ve been on since Corrientes hasn´t been particularly good to us, we took a wrong turn, got sick and I got my first puncture of the cycle. It´s been a long, boring road, covering 1000km in total, around 1/4 of our total distance so far. We asked Marina to get the bus to Salta, to ensure that Fearghal and I keep our team, (I watch your back, you watch mine) spirit that is so essential to completing this expedition.
We packed our things from our hotel-come-hospital, clipped into our pedals and set about finishing the last 500km to Salta. Route 16 was straighter than ever, with 25km sections without even a slight bend. The high scrub that lined the road gave a feeling of being in a tunnel, trapped on this seemingly endless conveyor belt. The towns we passed by were lonely, dusty places and gave little reason to stop. I did however see my first live wild snakes (I nearly ran over one), and vultures pecking away at road kill that are frequently seen on these roads (which are usually accompanied by a nasty whiff).
At last though, after two dull days, we cought our first glimpse of the Andes. What a beautiful sight. After a night camping in a dried up river bed, we started our first day of cycling in the Andes. The quiet motorway meandered its way through the mountains, the steep hills and tight turns making me feel like I was on a rollercoaster. The hills were just the right height so that the momentum from the downhills would almost carry you up the other side. For the first time in two weeks, I felt the rush of adrenaline surging through my veins, on one of the many downhills, I cried out a loud “yeeee- haaaa”!
After 6 hours of cycling we got to the last 35km uphill that would take us into Salta. It was hot, sweaty work, the buildup of suncream and mosquito repellant from the last few days meant I was literally dripping. The fuel from lunch having since exhausted, I crammed myself full of Oreos and Coke, trying to get a last bit of energy to carry me up the final hill. My dream of a downhill into Salta was answered with an exhilerating 10 minute ride down into the valley. We´ll have a few months in the Andes, and hopefully there´ll be many more rollercoaster days to come.
18.01.09 Pampa de los Guanacos to Monte Quemado Distance: 127.3km
19.01.09 Monte Quemado to El Quebrahai Distance: 145.2km
20.01.09 El Quebrahai to El Galpon Distance: 127.3km
21.01.09 El Galpon to Salta Distance: 137km Ascent:around 2100m