15 March 2011

Mendoza 2

Mendoza is hot during the day and cool at night. It is a city on a desert hydrated by stone irrigation ditches called acequias that run along the streets carrying water from the high mountains. The streets are wide and tree-lined and the cafes and restaurants are busy and it is a pleasant city to walk through with its large parks and public areas.

I stayed at a hostel of bus-hopping backpackers and had a bunk in a small dormitory room of 8 beds on one of the main streets. It felt good to take some days off the bike but there were more tourists in Mendoza than any city I had been in outside of Ushuaia. I did not like all the English speaking and after a few days I was thinking about the road again. My knees felt mostly recovered from the sharp pains I had three weeks before. I missed sleeping in my tent and the quiet of the countryside. I missed cooking on my little stove and it made me nervous not having my bike and gear beside me or where I could see it. I began to feel lazy for sitting when I should have been riding.


I looked at my map and instead of riding south to San Raphael as I had planned, I have decided to ride north, much of it along Ruta 40 and ripio, to Salta. To ride back to Buenos Aires from San Raphael would have meant riding across 1000 km of flat pampas, while the ride north to Salta will be through the desert and foothills of the Andes. From Salta I will box the bike and gear and take a bus to Buenos Aires for my flight to Cali, Colombia in May.

In Mendoza I sat in restaurants eating meat and drinking wine. My main activity was a long walk through the city, past the plazas with their great old trees and fountains, and to the supermarket for more food. To prepare for the ride north I bought another canister of butane for my stove and reloaded my food supplies. I picked up some degreaser and took apart and cleaned the chain and drive train, which I had planned to clean in Ushuaia but did not. On the ride into the city there was much glass on the auto pista and I found my front tire had flatted, just my third flat of the trip. I go to sleep tonight with the bike ready and excited to leave tomorrow for the north, to get out of the city, to get back into the mountains, to be back inside my tent with my gear around me and the stars above.


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