Thursday, April 9, 2009

Whoop Ass!!!

Back over the Andes in Argentina, we found ourselves in Mendoza once more. The wine was delicious and the steaks were enormous. We reluctantly left it all behind for our road diet of pasta and tomato sauce, mmm.

Out of Mendoza the roads were flat and straight for miles. Even with full bellies we clocked up big distances for several days. Not only our bellies, but our water bottles too, caused our bikes to be very heavy. Gemma´s even managed to damage the road...
Our first attraction out of Mendoza was at Vallecito. A shrine built for crazies who believe some story about a woman found dead (of thirst and starvation) but a baby alive at her breast. People now visit the place and crawl on their hands and knees to stick car licence plates to the wall in hope of receiving a miracle new car.
And you thought cycling for a year was crazy!!!
Back on the road we noticed a large difference in the environment. Away from the mountains we found ourselves pedalling endlessley through desert and 40C heat. Out here there wasn´t much to see other than sand, cacti, scary insects and dead stuff.

Rare small towns were welcome relief. They have kiosks with much less fizzy drinks than they had before we arrived. Some of them also had different wildlife to look at. The type you can approach rather than run screaming from.

Further into the desert we came across Ischigualasto National Park. Just try saying that after you´ve cycled 100km up a whopping great hill!
"Ishammmalaassti..... murrrrr.... where´s my burger!"
Anyhoo.... this park is famous for being like a valley of the moon. Fat rat couldn´t contain himself, everybody knows the moon is made out of cheese, even simple little rats know it.
As it turned out, there was no cheese. Pah. But there was plenty of rocks and fossils and stuff like that. It was quite possible to imagine dinosaurs running around eating each other, until you realised you were looking at the people in the tour group.
We were told the balls were formed by being pushed around the bottom of an ancient lake, erosion making them almost spherical. Sounds like a story made up by some clever scientist who knows all the facts after years of study.
Clearly that´s all tosh. They were in fact made by dinosaurs who became bored of eating everything and took up playing marbles instead. As you can see in the picture, there was a seriously big game on when the asteroid struck, probably it was the world dinosaur championships.
A couple of days later we got ourselves to the Cuesta de Miranda. This is a mountain pass taking us through to Chilecito where we are now. We have arrived following an absolutely horrendous ordeal which luckily we have both survived with little injuries. We spent the previous night camped in a a dry river bed. On arrival there we found ourselves with a little mutt that had followed us for 3kms from the last town. This dog took it upon itself to be our trusty guard.
And a fine job it did.
At 4am Ian was awoken by the dog growling and barking. Not much later a random donkey started up making loads of noise too. Unlike the approachable donkey already mentioned, this donkey went nuts and set off on a rampage. Listening to the events unfold from the safety of his sleeping bag, Ian realised the donkey was hurtling down the rocks and straight for the tent. Ian tried to save Gemma a trampling and rolled over onto her.
It all happened in a flash but the donkey stamped all over the tent, on Ian´s head and shoulders and put a big hoof on Gemma´s ankle and arm too.
Gemma eventually woke up screaming but not knowing what had happened. After some explaining with blood for effect, Ian had a nice sit down and Gemma packed the bikes up.
The tent is destroyed, ripped fabric, broken poles but amazingly the bikes are unhurt.
So after some breakfast we headed for the mountains and 70kms into Chilecito, stopping along the way for Ian to have his hair cut off and to have alcohol and iodine poured into his hoof shaped head crack. We only have a couple of photos, obviously we were rather busy and very shaky.

Luckily we are both absolutely fine so there is no need for our parents to worry. This isn´t meant to be a life changing trip, it´s a life threatening one, but we will get home.
A day or two to rest and fix the tent and then we should be back on the road to Salta.
For Andrew and Jack (you know who you are), the "Likely to die tour" is unfolding quite nicely for you.
Lots of love, Ian and Gemma


Globalmum said...

I hope you did "Whoop" that ass if/when you managed to catch it! Thank goodness that you are both not more seriously hurt.
Ian - is that really your brain I can see through the blood?
I hope you both recover very soon - it certainly is proving to be an aadventure not to be forgotten!
All our love,
Mum (2) and David

Kylie & Tim said...

Hey Guys

Sounds like your well on your way north. Keep an eye out for those donkeys hey. I guess there a bit aggressive. Gemma, I guess your please that it was not you that got injured hey!

all the best

Tim and Kylie