Friday, December 22, 2006

Villa La Angostura to Bariloche

It poured all night but, in the morning, the sky was a mix of sun and cloud and the view from our room was great. What a difference a day makes. First stop in town was to the bank to get pesos. Villa La Angostura is a cute little mountain town. Maybe something like Kimberly.

For the first part of the ride out of town, we were surrounded by colour. Mostly bright orange flowers and also pink and purple ones. The road followed along the shore of Lago Nahuel Huapi through a national park by the same name and there were snow capped mountains on either side. The wind was at our backs most of the time, so it felt like we were really flying - especially compared with yesterday. The road was in great shape, but there wasn't much of a shoulder and there was more traffic. It was amazing how long we rode with stunning scenery and so little development.
The farther we went, the more the wind seemed to pick up. It was some serious wind too! I've ridden in Calgary with winds at 30km/hr and still not been aware of the wind when it was at my back. So, I know this was a serios wind, because I could still feel it. I could feel it pushing me up hill. The lake was completely covered in white caps. I have never seen such wind in my life. We knew our route continued around the lake, so we took advantage of the wind at our backs as long as we could, knowing that, at some point, we'd face a strong head wind and cross wind.

About 20km to Bariloche, we turned into the wind. It was gusty, so it was difficult to maintain a straight line along the non existent shoulder. After about 5km of this, we took a lunch break, stopping at a supermarcado for some 'do-it-yourself' sandwiches. Yop, gourmet ham and cheese sandwiches and churros. Tasty!

Slowly but surely we made it to Bariloche. 88km for the day. Easy as pie (except for the treacherous wind on the last 20km). It was only 4:30pm when we arrived and we were dry so it was kind of nice to be able to ride around and pick a place to stay. The place we are at now is about $25 per night and includes breakfast. It's probably on par with a super eight, but smaller...and somehow it just feels nicer because its foreign. Erik turned on the tv right away, which is funny because he is so anti television. The Simpsons was on. Spanish Homer is pretty funny. It reminded me of the place we ate dinner at last night, which had a picture of Che on the wall, as well as a picture of the stooges and five pictures of the Simpsons. Interesting combo. Simpsons seems to be really popular here.

We scoped out all of the bike shops in town in search of some better tires for me for when we go south and hit gravel roads again. This was way past the limits of my non-english vocabulary - tires, tubes, break pads, degreaser, and spokes are somehow not words that make it into beginner level spanish vocabulary. Unfortunately, 700c tires are not common here. We were able to pick up some more tubes and patches as well as some spare spokes, break pads for Erik, and an Argentinian bike Jersey for me.

While we were trying to find one of the places, we had to carry our bikes up a bunch of stone stairs. Erik decided to ride is bike down the stonre railing. I pretended not to be phased by it but I was secretly having a heart attack. There wasn't even an audience for him to show off to. He just does stuff like this for kicks sometimes. We have so much in common and yet we are so different.

After we got back from out bike supply shopping spree, we packed up our dirty clothes and looked for a laundry place. $3 to wash, dry, and fold all of my grody bike clothes? SOLD! I normally resist the concept of paying people to live my life for me, which includes tasks like laundry, but $3 per load is pretty awesome.
Then we went for a massage. Basically $16 for an hour. Not bad. It wasn't exacly a deep tissue massage but, at this point, I can't complain. During the massage I figure out that the back of my hands are severly sunburned. My quads and the backs of my calves are also sunburned. It was an interesting balance between the relief I got from a sore muscle being rubbed and the pain I felt from a sunburn being rubbed. I tried taking the opprtunity to practice my Spanish during the massage since the girl didn't speak much English. You can read and practice all you want on your own or in a Spanish class but there is something really cool about combining a few words that are nonsensical to you and having a complete stranger understand them.

By the time the massage was finished and we had picked up our laundry, it was dinner time. Erik picked a nice casual spot called Friends. We had a killer salad with eggs, beets, peas, pineapple, and a bunch of other goodies. We also had a half metre of 'taz' pizza with wild patagonian boar. Yummy! Erik also ordered a fried banana and we split a bottle of wine. We discussed the plan for the next few days and are considering staying here and extra night since Erik's knee is bothering him. This would be a good place to stay since there are many things we could do on a 'rest' day in Bariloche. I'm not sure when we will decide what our plan will be tomorrow.

Over dinner we were entertained watching a little boy out on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. He was full of energy and seemed to have no concerns about expending it at every opportunity. I thought about how I wished I could be like that. I fully admit to being a serious energy conservationist. I don't even like to use the brakes on my bike because it makes me feel like I'm wasting energy. At what point did I go from being an energy exhibitionist like that kid to being the energy conservationist that I am now? I considered this as we ate dinner. And then as we were waiting for the bill I saw him pass by again, asleep and being carried by his dad. Maybe that's the answer I'm looking for. I'm still like that kid, I've just learned to pace myself.


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