Final weeks of riding in the Americas: Cafayate, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile

It has been a tough but rewarding few weeks of pedaling. We have put in some long days as towns have been far spaced and it has been necessary to reach them for water. However, interspersed between the long hot days have been some wonderful campsites and delicious barbecues and wine. The Argentinians have been very friendly and, yet again, South American hospitality has proven to be warm and generous.

The scenery has been spectacular with the vastness of the landscape reminding us of our ride through Alaska. Big wide valleys and impressive mountains all around.
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Sometimes it felt like the road was endless.
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Sometimes we road through the desert.
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To fortify us through the hardships we fortunately had empanadas. In Argentina you buy them by the dozen.
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We also found heavily laden fig trees to raid and I found an alternative use for my helmet.
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The camping has been varied. We have had ‘heated’ wild camping in desert areas where the warmth of the day radiates up from the ground all night, creating a sauna effect within the tent. However, the discomforts of the night are always negated by the glorious sunrises.
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Sometimes we thought we were heading to a campsite only to discover it is closed. However, it is often possible to still camp there but the facilities may be less than perfect. As these options are usually free we are content to shoulder a few hardships. We now have quite a good knowledge of toilet plumbing. Sometimes these options can turn out to be real gems. This campsite was at a closed thermal baths, however, we still had access to the baths. It’s the cleanest I’ve been all trip.
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Sometimes lovely Argentinians take pity on us cyclists and invite us to camp in their backyards. Thank you Oscar.
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And sometimes, when you’re just quietly sitting in a town plaza having a drink, someone will approach you for a chat and when you ask them if there’s any camping nearby they will whistle at a passing car, which will stop and you will then follow to one of the nicest cheapest hidden campsites you’ve ever been to. Camping on grass!
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There have been some interesting road signs in Argentina.
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Eventually all great partnerships disband as members need to strike out on their own for their own adventures. In San Juan we parted with our beloved Aussie tandem pals and headed forth as a team of two. Bremma, it has been a real pleasure and we look forward to further explorations together.
We headed south to Mendoza where we visited a vineyard that we knew through our membership with Naked Wines. Mauricio Lorca’s Bodega received us warmly and gave us a very interesting tour around. As it is harvest time there was a lot going on. We had a super time.
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They were kind enough to give us the remainders of the bottles we had tasted.
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We felt we needed to do justice to such fine wines and therefore had a final Argentinian barbecue to accompany them
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Leaving Mendoza did not turn out to be the ride we had anticipated. It was one of the worst riding days of the trip. In South America we had sought out the quieter roads, usually dirt and gravel ones. Therefore it was a real shock when we got onto Ruta 7 and were confronted by a steady stream of trucks, buses and cars. Within 6 kilometres we had been run off the road three times by on coming trucks overtaking other vehicles. The road did not have a shoulder and the ground next to the road had recently been graded so was soft, sandy and pebbly. On the occasions when we had to exit the road; Badge got spat off his bike onto the ground and I got spat back onto the road. The final words my colleague Richard said to me when I left work were ringing in my ears ‘Don’t get squashed or crushed”. Team Hyne gathered together on the rocky shoulder, had a discussion, mopped up the tears, and then pedaled back to Mendoza and caught a bus.

Into Chile through a very strict border control that doesn’t allow any fruit, vegetables, cheese or meat. Then onto Santiago for a few days of celebration, relaxation and jobs. The perfect way to salute the end of the South American leg was a Chilean wine tasting session.
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Then it was down to the serious job of finding appropriate boxes and packing up the bikes.

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It was time to say goodbye to some well loved items.

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Raul and Gemma’s bnb provided us with a lovely environment in which to pack up our kit. We were fed well and treated like one of the family.

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And now we turn our thoughts towards the next leg of the trip: Scotland to the Shire. There is sadness for leaving South America as it has been awesome here. However, we are excited to be seeing family and friends, as well as sampling local UK foods and beers!
It has been a concern of ours that re-entry into ‘civilisation’ is going to be quite tricky. I would like to apologise now to our fellow plane passengers about our appearance. I can assure you that our clothes are clean (I have done the sniff test), however, their shabbiness may make us look somewhat tramp-like. My flip flops may seem an unusual shoe choice, however, believe me you would not want to be sat next to my rotting trainers for 12 hours on a flight. We now need to work on our behaviour!
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