Argentina: Mendoza to Junín de los Andes – southward trucking
Time and distance are rolling on. In a strange melting of distinctions, the days have become loosened and flow together making recollection harder. Our bodies and bikes (well mine, anyway) are increasingly protesting the load we have grown used to placing on them. Parts are failing, thankfully most anticipated at a time passed, leading to a lightening tools-spares bag (silver lining) and an accelerating succession of road and camp-side repairs-replacements. Motivation and energy for fully fixing punctures slips to an “it’ll do” minimum. If I can keep function by pumping every couple of hours, rather than tarry o’er long at sparse rivers-streams trying for the definitive it now seems normal-enough. Home and finishing although partly shunned offer an end to this diminishment.
The fuzz enveloping us means we’ve only realised recently that we finally left the tropics in Northern Argentina, that Mendoza is about level with Fremantle-home, and that we’re now as far south as Tasmania – soon to be beyond it. It is now possible to count our remaining weeks in single digits – an act discovered and shied away from equally quickly.
An uphill afternoon is punctuated by a pause for cold water from passing 4WD tourers (angels) and a broken chain (already! – was new in Mendoza).
(June 2012 – I discover the blog of our 4WD saviours – here a link to their thoughts about the encounter with us)
Our hurry to leave Mendoza meant I only passingly considered spares for Sarah’s new Look. Remembered thoughts – “brake pads – check. Other things should be covered….” Too other-minded then to remember chains. Hers 8-speed-wider and mine 9-speed-narrower. Spares incompatible so I can’t fix the bust one. (¡maldición!) A solution occurs and I even lose some weight as a cobbled 9-speed chain from hoarded bits gets us going again.
Sarah’s new bike has now finally gained enough of a grime covering to not feel so new. The biggest functional loss with the old bicycle has possibly been the saddle. She’s always viewed them as instruments of torture and stunned me with her pain tolerance and tenacity in still riding day after day. The saddle we lost was nearer than any other to a semblance of comfort. Chos Malal turns out to have a surprisingly well stocked bike shop – not running into Sella Anatomica saddles, but having a nice fat tyre to replace the scarily ripped one I’d tried to mollify-sew a few days earlier. Unfortunately we got there on Sunday, thus had to hang around until Monday to buy the tyre – not to begrudge anyone their day of rest though!
Now we’re less than a couple of weeks from the Carretera Austral and Chile. Despite rumours and stories of deep piles of volcanic dust further south in the Argentinian Lakes we’ll be sticking to this side of the border, but could end up dashing west if we run into problems…. She’ll be ‘right! (this reckless streak seems to be taking hold…)