Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bariloche to El Bolson

The weather really turned around today. We woke up to an overcast sky but, by the time we finished breakfast, the sun was peaking through the clods and steaming the water off of the asphalt. Just another example of how things are working out on this trip.
By the time we headed out of Bariloche, it was after 11am and we had to fight a lot of stinky cars leaving town. Once we were a few kms out of town it was gorgeous. Still windy, but fortunately the wind was mostly at our backs. The weather changed rapidly all day. It would go from cold, windy and rainy to warm and calm and back in the course of ten minutes. We packed our own lunch today, knowing that there would be few amenities along the way. Fresh baguettes, some salami, some veggie mix and some of this soft cheese triangles did the trick. Worked out to about 2 bucks per sandwich and holy crap they were yummy.
The quality and character of the ride from Bariloche to El Bolson most closely resembled riding in Kananaskis, except that the traffic was slower, friendlier and more sparse. We saw only two other cyclists. The road condition was great and the scenery was amazing once again.
My thoughts today centered primarily around the fact that this seems to be a very under appreciated area. Why are there not more people out here enjoying this area? People go to Cancun/Puerto Vallarta/Los Cabos for a taste of something exotic, some spanish culture and a killer deal. And if they are really crazy, they might go farther south and visit one of the major cities in a Central or South American country. Like Caracas or san Jose or Buenos Aires really give the full picture of the culture in their respective countries. Seeing how people live outside of major business centers is far more telling of a culture. I think its safer too. Then taking the next step and choosing your own adventure instead of a packaged itinerary allows you to open your mind to the full experience. Finally, pushing your way from a to b, rather than hurrying around in a rental car, allows you to smell the flowers, hear the birds, notice the hidden waterfall (I'm selectively forgetting that it also allows me to smell the diesel fumes, hear the crappy engines of old cars, and notice the litter at the side of the road). If the world only realized how much a bicycle can open doors to new experiences, I'm sure everyone would do this. There's  
We arrived in El Bolson much earlier than expected, thanks to a tail wind and a net descent of 500m from our starting point. El Bolson is a town of about 20,000. We found a cool little place to stay that is somewhere between a guest house and a hotel. It's like someone built a mini hotel, say 6 rooms, in their backyard. Its nice. Nicer than the place we stayed at in Bariloche, but more expensive too. It's about US$27 per night and does not include breakfast. But it has a great garden and feels a bit cleaner.
The more we head south, the less development we see. We will have to keep this in mind as we continue toward Chaiten. The next town, Esquel, is 180km away and that's probably more than we want to ride in one day. This means that we will have to start carrying a lot of food with us, particularly since the next few days are holidays. I don't know what to expect by way of amenities for the next 72 hours. So, Erik and I went to the grocery store to stock up on food. We picked up sandwich supplies, basically exactly the same as what we had for lunch today, plus some cookies, and some wine and special bread for tomorrow. We will likely have to camp tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a really rustic christmas dinner in the middle of nowhere. I hope we can find a good spot to put up our tent. I paid close attention at the museum in Bariloche to whether there are any crazy predators in this part of Patagonia and I didn't see any. It will be an adventure for sure. I'm open to just about anything, but I really hope the weather cooperates.
This might be my last post for a couple of days as there may not be blackberry coverage where we are going. When we arrived in El Bolson, we thought we were out of range, but somehow we have reception now after a few hours. It's a good thing too, as I received an early Christmas present. The girl that I had asked to be my Transrockies partner has accepted my proposal! I'm pretty damn excited!


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