Argentina-Chile, Andes

Mendoza- Uspallata

Finally the waiting time  bear fruits, 9 am I started to roll out of Mendoza. I couldn’t hid the feeling of excitement, as I was pedal past the traffic I should back to the drivers and other guys who keep on calling “Hola Negro”.  The traffic was tense , I join the high way since there was no other option. About 12km out of town I join Ruta 7 which suppose to take me all the way to the boarder, I needed to be extra careful not to get not to ext this road as it can happen very ease since I keep right to avoid big tracks.  I happen to find myself out of road when I was scouting Ruta 7, couldn’t believe how it becomes difficult to go back. It take me good 20 minutes of calculation and carry the bike across fast traffic. 

Eventual traffic decrease after a while but the tracks were lots and fast thanks the road has broad shoulders. I enjoy the freedom you feel when you’re in the bike once again, it was me with vine yards and Andes around. The first 40m were good worming up then the ultimate challenge begin the climbs.   First day in the bike after long time, I could manage it. It was surprise when I did couple of up hills looking behind I couldn’t imagine how I climb them with loaded bike. Thanks for the track drivers for doing suck big job to cheer me up especial in turf up hills.

After the turn off about 40m from Mendoza there are nothing of real civilization, no coke stop at all, 12km before Porttariollos I there was a with a sign “Pan con cerso de corba” , I know ok pan is bread, cerso is cheese ‘corba’ though I didn’t knew what it mean but dint real matter. What matter is the sign and house couldn’t real help to predict the present of human being in the area. In the mountain, lonely house with no real sign of life make me scared a bit any ways I pop in after several calling old fat women show up bit serious. ‘Hola!’  I just went straight to the point since she dint seems to pay any hid to cyclist in the middle of nowhere; ‘Tienes bebida?’  ‘No’ ‘Tienes comida?’  ‘Nada’  Gracias’ ‘Chao’; very formal conversation.

Parttariollos has magnificent view of blue lake in the middle of mountains, it was down hill to the small town. I had lots of expectation the town but my expectation proved to be total wrong, at fuel station it central of everything.  At 3pm, 40 centigrade there were nothing open you can hardly tell if there are people in those few houses or no.  Had two sandwich with coke then I realize how hungry and tired I was as I state to fall asleep. Half a hour of rest then keep on rolling with no much expectations of landscape changers. The road change instead of going direct to the mountain it keeps on meander with river Mendoza.  From 7-10kmph I was doing in the up hills now it 25- 30kmph. The rest of the day remain rolling hills alongside the   then back to serious climb to Uspallata.  The last 15km I did with extra energy , imagination of cold drinks and sleeping in worm sleeping bag. I tried coupe houses and Cananas for camping but all turn me down with excuse of shower, the keep on directing me to the camping ground in centre of ‘Pueblo’. Pueblo translate literally as village which for me turns to be village.  The camping was nice as several folk told me as I ask for direction ‘Chiquita pero linda’. I like Argentinans for their character of making things to sound good even if they are not, often you will hear; ‘Che que linda/linda!, Que rico, hermos’ like wise when it come to weather; ‘ Che que calori’ this make me to think it first summer here.

 

I arrive at  centre of Uspallata 9:30pm just when the darkness start to take over though the cetral of what consider to be village it getting lively with loud music and colorful light , it still wine fiesta!. At the camp the middle aged woman with professional tone answer my question of prices 15 Pesos, then after seen I pay much attention to sad Parrot in the cage she start to lecture me but as like she read my mind that I will prefer to see that creature flying free she suggest me to have a drink. She has only cold beer but that is out of my budget but the mama wanted to see me cheered up so she offered it for half price, 1 lt. of cold Andes beer was real reward of 122km. Spaghetti and tune made dinner while Mountainsmith tent proved comfortable house. 

Uspallata-Las Cuevas.

I left the camp at 8:30 with warning of more mountain and lots of good wish from the mama of the camp. I saw the sign of internet in small house, pop in and all over sadden I was connected with the rest of world. Since the world is now a village just like our small village up in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, when folks meet the just exchange news and what not, I play my part by ‘up to dating my status’

Out of the Internet few meter is center of the town waiting my turn at round about came large cheverlot  pick up full of young guys with part mood, same kind of white spray, etc. They start shouting, sing and spray the white stuff to me, some jump out for more spray. As I was busy weeping the spay some took off some stuff in the bike water bottle,   flags and eventual the GoPro camera which I was mounted in the bike ready for taking clip. The police track which was close by jump in and fiesta guys took off throwing out my stuff but not the camera. West couples of hours with police but there were no sign of further help any ways they promise that if the recover it they will send it to me. These kinds of situation have   happened to me in Cairo, kids run over me almost drop me I was rescued by tukutuku/bajaj drive.  It happens several times in Mendoza on those endless festivals which always close the streets or swam the parks and sideways.

It was a difficult day, I finish my hunger on the climbs which were more tough compare to last day. I made it to Polvaredas 40km from Uspallata, here I find the yellow flag used by Tour d’Afrique for makes, guess that was for lunch. Just missed the lunch truck!

 

I stop is only open ‘kiosko’ for coke and ‘sandwish’ sandwich saved by real grand ma whose I could hardly understand her Spanish. As I was waiting for the food, one truck driver came in we chart as he chew his coke plant, drink beer like water, smoke cigarette just like oxygen was too expensive. I realize that I’m in great danger if these are kind of track drives.  I left the pueblo keep it up to the mountain pass the great view of ‘roof of America’ the Aconcogua.  At the last and long tunnel in Argentina the police couldn’t let me pass with bike. At the kiosko out of tunnel was the same truck drive, he show me where to change the money and offer the ride through the tunnel, he was still drinking. He said he can drink 20 litters of beers and 5 litter of wine per day!

Out the tunnel, I start my first downhill to the border, no food no fruit to Chile so just had to eat my fruit as go through paper work.  After scanning and sniffed with dogs I was ready to go,  it now 21:00. I refill my bottles at international police station who keep me for another hours of chatting thanks they had good Colombia coffee and some sweet. It was start to get real chill the police offer to take me down to the pueblo but I thank them and camp out of the border. It was real clear sky with million stars.

Los Cuervas ‘Caraculs’

In the morning I fill my bottles at the same place and it was different police, the police lady who too my bottle she wanted to get the version of story from me, I made It brief. I have never imagine the road like the one descend in the Andes to Chile, it just amazing, the snake like going down, it wasn’t such dangerous with trucks coming down hill I could stay there for hours looking to this miracles, local call it ‘Caraculs’  ‘snails’. I’ll say it a big python. I had to go downhill fast as sign say ‘No estacion nil adelante’ you just to go down, the climb is more steep compare to Argentina side.

I made it to Los Andes town at 13hrs about 63km from the frontier, it quite a hot place 45 centigrade. After few round to find communication, my friend Martin come to peak me up had to tail him for 10km. In this time I had real pain on the left knee which I couldn’t tell it cause I was hoping that it will go away.

Martin dad offer us big dinner at expensive traditional restaurant ‘ La Ruca’ . Here I was introduce to the famous Chilean liquor ‘Pisco’ with a big local dish of barbeque, eggs, and lot of salad….what a fate for angry cyclist!

Martin believe high than I do, he grab me to local TV where we had worm welcome for interview and eventual the put part of our conversation in their radio & Tv news. It still in you tube if you haven’t see it through our social media up to date  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFuEMMW2o2M

The interview day pass and I have to finish filming in the next day and see the Dr. for the leg. I find out I have inflammatory tendons which I think it due to loaded bike and the climbs. Got three trigger point to assist massage, try to do lot of massage the night before but the next morning I still cycle with difficult.

I roll out of Los Andes made 140km to La Ligua where Lorraine Chitoki my Chile contacts expecting me, the long time travel writer who now live in front with her 4 dogs finishing some of her books. I bump to first bike touring Brazilian old man 70 years old (don’t think your too young or too old for little adventure!) He have been roaming in Latin America for past 16 years now he is heading north to Mexico where he will take ship to Spain (www.uelo-ciclista.ning.com)  Got to get my maps here while the tendons seem to get along well. Soon I will start sailing north with good speed to Antofagasta. Now I just make most of Pacific magician view but cold morning and water.            

  

 

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5 Comments

  1. Posted March 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm by theUBUNTUgirl | Permalink

    Elvis,
    Fellow from the African soil……

    Thank you for your journey, your love, your passion, your compassion, your vision

    I am because you are because we are

    Lots of love from South Africa
    Sonja

    • Posted March 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm by Elvis | Permalink

      We all sing ‘Nkos selele Afrika’. Thanks Sonja!

  2. Posted March 10, 2012 at 8:20 am by Howard | Permalink

    Great news, Elvis – and a great story. Looking forward to hearing more; great to hear that you’re able to appreciate the land and not just focus on turning your wheels!

    • Posted March 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm by Elvis | Permalink

      I have great story about environment situation and the beaut of landscape. Stay tune it will be there soon.

  3. Posted March 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm by Karles | Permalink

    Great Elvis!!
    Happy to see you are going on… and hope you have a nice trip thru those lands!!
    Labda siku moja tutaonana… labda american bara au afrikan bara tena…
    mungu anajua!!
    safari njema rafiki!!

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