Cycling days 234 to 236 - San Juan to Mendoza
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
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Last night was one of the worst – we barely slept. It barely got any cooler, just dropping a couple degrees from the 31⁰C since we last checked at 9pm, making it the perfect temperature for the mosquitoes to come out. Because we were sleeping sans tent, the ants also kept crawling all over us and the wind picked up, blowing leaves and dust all over us. When we finally got too annoyed by it all, we set up the tent, but were still by the heat and the ants. For the past week, we felt like we haven't gotten enough sleep, but at least we felt recharged in the morning. Today, however, it doesn’t feel like we hit the reset button and Shirley especially feels groggy – being itchy all night from insect bites isn’t very restful.
When we get back to Ruta 40, we find that the wind is really strong and has switched directions overnight. Yesterday, we were cruising at over 25kph without much effort and today, we struggle to do 15kph against the headwind. We were excited about getting into Mendoza tonight, but it looks like Mother Nature is making us postpone those plans. Oh well, now e might as well stop in Media Agua for internet to buy more food since we are low on supplies.
After hanging out at the gas station’s air conditioned rest area for a couple of hours, we go into town and make it to the supermercado just before it closes for siesta. We sit in the shade and munch on more hamwiches, then go back to the gas station to chill some more. Shirley transcribes the journal while Yannick fixes the slow leak in Shirley’s rear tire, finding 3 tiny punctures.
The wind seems to be improving after mid-afternoon has passed and the temperature can only get better from here. We depart from the gas station a little past 4pm, after a 5-hour break!, and ride in the 42⁰C heat. There is not much around us, just dry desert, fast cars, and a couple police control station…not even any good places to camp! We continue until almost 8pm, turn off onto a small dirt road (one of the few we’ve seen) and camp about 500m from the highway. The temperature is 29⁰C, a big improvement from the last few nights, a nice breeze blowing, and only a few flies around. We are hopeful that we will get a good night’s rest. Somewhere just to the West lies Aconcagua, the highest peak outside of Asia.
We only have about 65km to Mendoza. The morning is quite uneventful except for a few vehicles that buzz by us very close. It seems as though people forget their manners when being in the proximity of a big city. We fight the wind and battle the traffic, trying to maintain our sanity by dreaming about the rest day to come. With only 17km left, a truck knocks up a piece of metal cylinder from the road and sends it flying in our direction. Again, we are fortunate in our misfortune – the cylinder only breaks the head of a spoke on Shirley’s front wheel rather than cutting open one of our legs. We go a little way down the road to fix the spoke in the shade of a tree, taking less time than expected to remove the wheel, replace the spoke, true the wheel, and get back on the road…Yannick is good!
The highway widens from two to four lanes again, relieving us of the crazy drivers. As we enter Mendoza, we pass by the airport, amazed at the sight of jumbo jets and recollect landing here six years ago when we climbed Aconcagua. We stop at a restaurant and share a big juicy steak sandwich, then visit the city center to reminisce in old memories by passing next to the hostal we stayed at, check out the menu where we had our celebratory post-climb dinner, and ride down familiar streets.
In the late afternoon, we head South of town to Godoy Cruz and stop by a big supermarket to buy a late lunch of quiche and tons of food for the next couple days. While Shirley is in the store, a horrendous wind storm whips through town. By the time she returns to the bikes, she sees Yannick sitting there looking pretty miserable with his hair rustled up and completely covered in leaves and dust. As we ride the last couple kilometers to our CouchSurfing destination, we see the damage the storm left behind – there are broken branches littering the streets, full trees uprooted, and cars with broken windshields from debris. What a mess!
When we get to Gonzalo’s house, he makes us feel so at home. For dinner, we go out to buy 1.5 kilos of meat and some veggies to barbecue. Sooo delicious! We hang out with Gonzalo, Ana, and Thor (two other CouchSurfers) until 1:30am!
We party animals sleep in a little and do nothing all day. It feels good to be lazy! and eat, eat, eat!