SAN JUAN to CHILECITO

Ever tried to quench a thirst from a luke warm water bottle? You’d swear your drinking something else. You drink it because you have too. You gulp it down, wipe the sweat from your brow and keep on pedaling down a road that never seems to end. This is what we expected from Northern Argentina…

But it’s great when things turn out better than you expect, and this is how we would sum up our trip from San Juan to Chilecito. Let me explain;

We are cycling through a desert. It’s bloody hot, rivers run dry and everywhere you sit there is a thorn waiting for you. So imagine our delight when we saw storm clouds brewing. Rain was coming, but so was lightening. Within moments, huddled under a tarp on the side of the road, we smiled at each other in disbelief as the storm raged around us. Within an hour, the dry riverbeds had turned to rapids and the roads had become almost impassable. In a few more hours, it was like nothing had ever happened? It doesn’t rain here often, but boy when it does you sure know about it. PS: mental note – don’t camp in riverbeds.

We teamed up with our French amigos, Thomas and Celine, to tour the Unesco listed Ischigualasto and Talampaya national parks. Strange rock formations, bright red canyons and dinosaur bones – this is the real Jurassic Park! The parks were fantastic, but unfortunately you can’t cycle in them. Well that’s what we found out after being escorted back to park HQ and explaining our minor infringement to the waiting police officer. I guess they are just trying to avoid the headlines, “Four gringos, eaten by T-Rex!”.

Our lucky escape needed to be celebrated and so did Valentine’s day. What says “I love you” better than barbequed goat, a few beers and a bottle of red wine? We ate like kings, laughed till we cried and were probably the only customers in the Las Baldecitos comedor that week.

The ride into Chilecito required crossing the Cuesta de Miranda – a 2,000m pass complete with 800 turns! So clearly, we were expecting the worse. Finally, after fighting countless headwinds and being told constantly we are cycling the wrong way, those cycling from the north get a break. The pass for us was a joy, a few moments uphill, then 25km down through some of the most breathtaking scenery so far… the road twisted and turned through a bright red valley with the 6000m peak of Famatina looming over us….. This is great cycling and we will remember this day forever!

I guess this goes to show you just can’t plan even a few days ahead. But that’s what makes this adventure so exciting – you just never know what you’re going to get! From here we head to Belen, then Cafayete … its more desert, so we expect hot and boring. What do you think?

Thanks again for all the posts and emails. They are great motivators, keep them coming! PS we are up to 5,000Kms now!!

Jules & Jess

What we had expected

What we had expected

Fixing thorn punctures

Fixing thorn punctures

What a storm brewing, out here?

What a storm brewing, out here?

"Ischi" with amigos Thomas & Celine

Ischi NP with amigos Thomas & Celine

Having fun

Having fun

Clowning about

Clowning about

But we shouldnt be here - esorted out

But we shouldnt be here - esorted out

Valle de la Luna (aka Loon!)

Valle de la Luna (aka Loon!)

Spot the aussie tourist

Spot the aussie tourist

Shapes in the desert

Shapes in the desert

Cactus man!

Cactus man!

Talampaya canyon... fantastic

Talampaya canyon... fantastic

Jess ... fantastic too

Jess ... fantastic too

Cuesta de Miranda... breathtaking iews

Cuesta de Miranda... breathtaking views

Who cares about planning anyway...

Who cares about planning anyway...