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Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Little Catch Up

Since leaving Salta, we went to Concepcion and over the mountains to Andalgala, Belen, south to Chilecito, west to Villa Union, south to San Jose de Jachal and then south to San Juan. All in four days, a lot of rain and a lot of mud.

We had WiFi only one night, but it was too weak to do a blog update. There is not a lot of uniqueness to these days, but they were filled with challenges that left us exhausted.

From Concepcion we rode into jungle like vegetation, climbing steadily before dropping down to Buena Vista for the night. Their breakfast was pan and tea!! We then had an abrupt switch to desert for the ride over to Belen. Jim and I agree this gravel, I should say rock, road coursed with muddy crossings was the longest 50 miles of the trip.

When we got to Belen, we were certain the worst was behind us. We pulled up in front of a cafe for lunch. They apparently saw gold and ripped us off for about three times what the meal should have been. But we were no longer hungry.

From Chilecito we crossed a low range of mountains, but the rain was heavy and the road was gravel part of the way. Incredible down pour!! What we didn't understand was this weather was part of a huge thunderstorm that would plague us for two days. We camped with thunder and lightening to the north. We joked about where we set up camp because it was so hard to discern where the water would go if it rained. No rain.

The next morning we packed up dry, and set out for Villa Union. About mid day we entered a big valley that we found had four significant rivers all at flood stage. For a couple of hours everyone was sitting and looking and waiting for the water to drop. Finally a mining pickup went across and then the flow started.

We crossed this one and the next, but the third looked too high. We also heard that two motos had been washed down stream. So we retreated to the desert for another night.

Morning brought blue skies and a complete cessation of flow in the next two rivers. Lots of sloppy mud, but we're used to this.

We ate in Villa Union and headed south again. A short distance out of town we started crossing streams that had carried huge amounts of gravel and water. Lots of highway damage. We must have crossed 50 of these water courses. Had we continued the night before, we would have never been able to cross these water courses.

Onward to San Jose de Jachal. Not a great town, but better than its name. Just before we got there we had a couple of mia cortas around bridges that were out of commission. "@@@%&$^&**, the SPOT is gone." Jim had been struggling with the lousy mount for the SPOT for the entire trip. He called Mike Stevens and Mike told us the coordinates for the last beep. We then knew that it had to be less than a half hour's ride from there, as it beeps every half hour. After a diligent search by your team, we pronounced the SPOT AWOL.

We then did a grueling 100 plus miles to the beautiful city of San Juan. This city is clean, affluent, beautiful. We feel it would rival any US city for quality of life. Only problem is after going to several nice hotels that were full, we ended up in a hostel. Jim says the bright side is if we average in the last two nights of camping with the hostel we are at $4.00 per night. Actually we slept fine and made some of our dwindling supply of Starbucks.

Today we are looking for a hot spring with good camping where we can spend two nights and dry out some more. Ciao.

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