The Final Countdown……
After the fun of the great Ruta 40 roads, we spent a few days in Mendoza. The city is fairly modern compared to a lot of the places we have visited on this trip, but still a pleasant place to hang around.
We even stumbled across an old red telephone box….just like being home!!
Of course, the main reason to hang around here is the countless vineyards. It is the largest wine producing area in Latin America so it would have been rude not to sample some of the local Vino.
We took a trip out to the CarinaE vineyard and were given a tour by the French owner.
Naturally we had a tasting session too….none of this taste and spit business, we just drank it :).
Before leaving Mendoza, we bumped into Johnny Depp….
We carried on further south along more of Ruta 40, which although mostly paved, was still an enjoyable ride.
It got pretty windy on our way to the town of Chos Malal. It’s hard to capture just how windy it was in a photo….but I had a go. We had to ride leaning into the wind and big gusts kept pushing us over into the other lane! We had heard that the Patogonian wind was tough on bikers.
When we finally arrived in Chos Malal we checked into a nice little hotel in town for what was supposed to be a one night stop over. Unfortunately when we attempted to leave the following morning, we discovered that both fuel stations in town had run dry.
We had heard about ‘fuel issues’ in Argentina in previous years, but had figured all was now okay. We were told the problem in this town was a one off due to strikes holding up deliveries (mmm, sounds like the UK!!!). After riding around the town making unsuccessful enquiries to try and buy some fuel elsewhere (the problem was that it was Sunday and any mechanics’ or other type of shop that might be able to help were closed 😦 ), we rode back to one of the fuel stations to see if they had any news – still nothing. Oh well, it looks like we’ll have to stay another night.
We met a Argentinian guy who was also stranded so we hung around with him in the plaza for a couple of hours.
On the plus side, we got to try ‘mate’. This is a traditional South American infused drink made from the Yerba plant which is really popular in Argentina. When we first arrived across the border we noticed loads of people wondering around with thermas flasks, wooden cups and metal straws. After some research we found out that Argentinians rarely go anywhere without their ‘mate’. This was proven when Tomas invited us to drink ‘mate’ with him and grabbed all the necessary instruments from his bike. There is an etiquette involved in the drinking, hopefully we didn’t break any of the rules as we passed the drink around!!
Tomas didn’t need as much fuel as we did to get to the next town, so we gave him our spare which meant that at least he could get on his way, there was no point us all being stuck!!
They finally had a delivery towards the end of the day so Dan queued up with the locals for about 50 minutes to get the Transalp filled.
If only we had known that the next day things would be worse!! We rode onto the town of Zapala and then decided maybe we would carry on further – so off to the fuel station. Oh dear, no fuel! Here we go again. After checking into a hotel Dan headed down to fill up at 6pm as they said they were expecting a delivery. By the time he got there the queue was unbelievably long – it took him ages to just find the end as it snaked along blocks and around corners. This time it took 3 hours of queuing, and from chatting to the locals he found out this issue had been going on for 10 days and affected a large area of the country.
There was only one thing for it….super economic riding!! So economic, Dan even had chance to put his feet up :).
We did manage 73 mpg though…amazing work by the Transalp!
Cruising through Patagonia…..
There are a huge number of people who do this trip by bicycle…crazy people, what they need is an engine!! And, believe or not, there is also someone doing this overland trip on a unicycle :).
The views in Argentina’s ‘Lake District’ are pretty awesome!!
This area of Argentina is really amazing, I would love to see it in the winter!
Next up we were heading for the town of Trevelin. This is one of the places that the Welsh settled in after searching for somewhere to start a new Welsh nation in order to protect their language, religion and traditions.
And one tradition they have bought over to Patagonia is ‘tea’. These towns are full of Tearooms and Welsh souvenirs so we bought a Welsh dragon sticker for the bike and ate cake….lots of cake!!
Yes we ate the lot….and drank the best tea we’ve had since leaving the UK :).
Not satisfied with just experiencing one Welsh town, we headed to town of Gaiman – once visited by Princess Diana, she also stopped for afternoon tea.
In the true style of Wales…it rained a lot. We had to get the ponchos out but still got our feet soaked as the only restaurant in town was across the other side of this road!!!
The lady at the guest house we stayed at in Gaiman was 3rd Generation Welsh and spoke the language after being taught by her grandfather and also traveling to Wales to study. She now teaches Welsh to others.
So, Welsh Patagonian is the furthest south that we go. From here it was time to start heading north towards Buenos Aires. After over 43,000 and nearly 300 days the final countdown has begun.
Here’s a pic of what I’ve been staring at almost every day for the last 10 months 🙂
Our first stop on our way north was the coastal town of Las Grutas….our first view of the Atlantic Ocean since way back at the start of the trip….
We’ve got some more places to visit and some more time to enjoy the trip yet….but it is drawing to an end soon!