Quite good fun in Bariloche, met so many cool people, some on the middle of their stay, some on the end, some on foot, some on bike and some like me cycling around. The traveling circus is really full of great people, special, unbound and so very detached from all those things that appear to make the world tick in the busy cities of the north of the world. Mind you these people are like me, they are from Europe, Australia, the USA and simply have elected that the new iPhone is not worth 5 days a week into a stuffy office adding nothing to either humanity or their own personal growth.
I leave with a light heart knowing that I have now mastered the terrain and I can do as I like both in terms of accommodation and general interaction with my environment, I don’t fear the day ahead of me.
It helps that the weather is sensational, sun wall to wall, as they say. I get onto the familiar route 40 and start the fifty or so miles that separate me from the chosen stop for the evening. The going is easy pretty much going around the lake that I will find out is the chosen “show off” destination that that president Macri will choose to impress the visiting Obama.
A few stops and many photograph later I get there.
The campsite is sensational, each spot has space for a fire, not having food that warranted cooking that is wasted on me, but what is not wasted is the private beach that allows me to dip in the, rather cold, but delightful water of the Lago Nahuel Huapi.
I invest the rest of the day getting a tan on the beach and the evening stargazing and getting rather perturbed by the fact that the moon light is getting a little stronger and therefore interfering with the carpet of stars that are laid above me.
I am getting used to my new tent but I have to be honest there are some things for which my old one was vastly superior. Same is for the new thermarest, this one is larger and more comfortable but it is heavier and takes an awful lot more space. Still I sleep well and I’m ready to continue the journey.
The tasks for the day are: get water, get cash and get past Villa la Angustura and half way towards San Martin de los Andes.
I make quick progress and some friends along the way to Villa la Angustura. As I stop to take a picture I am crowned by a family of Chilians who want to know all about my bike and my journey. They are out here with a camper for the vacations and now are heading back. I get lots of respect for the enterprise and lots of hugs and kisses before I speed on on my way.
Villa la Angustura has a bit of a reputation, well, all the area around here has, for being the retreat of choice of many germans that found themselves rather unenployed and less than welcomed in Europe around 1945/46. The style of the constructions and the neatness of the place surely plays into the stereotype but I rather like it. I get money and throw on top of it a cappuccino and two croissants before getting on my way north.
Getting out of Villa la Angustura appeared to me as being rather fabulous terrain for cycling and for sightseeing. This turns out to be just the starter in a meal of wonder that will accompany me all the way to San Martin de los Andes.
The road is a succession of hills that in many point are at the side of lakes. I stop often to catch my breath not because of the cycling, but for the sheer beauty of the scenery.
Then at the next lake I see in the distance a trio of cyclists and I go along to see them. They are two crazy French, one of whom is mesmerised by the concept of going around with a folding bike, and a guy from the big apple. They met on the salt planes in Bolivia and cycled together since. Not sure I get from where they each started but they are going, quite predictably, to Ushuaia.
After leaving my fellow bikers I have only some fifteen miles to go but they include the only serious climb of the day. After that it’s a long descent to the lake and the camp.
The camp for the night is free. The area next to Lago Villarino is set aside for free camping and indeed, being Sunday, there are a fair few people that have come out for the week end. As I suspect that most of them will disappear come nighttime, I make my way a little further up the shores to find a more secluded spot where to nest. I then set on the task of collecting wood and of rearranging some stones to make a camp fire, sadly to be enjoyed by myself alone.
As I suspected all had gone by nightfall and I have a lovely few hours of stargazing only disturbed by the now rather stronger moon light reflecting on the water of the lake.
Which left only one thing for me, sleep and get ready for day three, the last day cycling of this whole South American expedition.
The view of the lake in the morning is even more dazzling than in the evening and it energises me to tackle the last twenty or so mile to San Martin.
The route is not as spectacular as yesterday but not bad. The sign of the Lanin National Park reminds mi of all the things I’d like to do and will do the next time I’m around these parts, climbing the Lanin vulcan being one of them.
It’s very hot and I have run out of water so, for the second time in this trip I get water out of a streem, I’m rather sure what my wife would say, probably along the lines of “this is going to kill you!” with a prequel of “you fool, why did you run out of water in the first place”. Spoiler: I have survived and, given the heat, it was delicious.
So, seeing San Martin in the distance is giving me a really good vibe but at the same time I feel a strange feeling of closure, one I felt last year when I reached Sydney after the long Australasian tour. It was great to cycle a bit in South America, it was not as much as I thought I would cycle but I know I’ll be back soon and do all the things I have missed this time round.