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|02/10||-3:45 P.M. ON THE ROAD TO BARILOCHE. -After many miles of steep climbing, we crossed the border -- and the road has turned to rough, wet, slippery, muddy, loose gravel that's full of potholes. And we're in the clouds.
-The surrounding trees are all conifers now. The views that we can see are spectacular. Of course, if we were riding bikes on this road, we would never be-able to look around -- except when we were picking ourselves up from the many falls that I'm sure we would experience.
-We (Lisa, Joan, Larry, Dave, Pam and I) are speculating at how upset the riders will be when they hit this stretch. For their sake, I hope there's no more rain and they have clear skies when they get here.
-4:15. We're at the Argentina border crossing control station. The weather is alternating between spots of sunshine and bursts of rain.
-We left the border station at 4:30. Still on dirt and gravel road.
-5:30. As we travel East through the Andes, we passed through Villa La Angostura, a charming mountain village that reminds me of North Lake Tahoe or Beaver Creek in Colorado. We are leaving the clouds and rain behind.
-6:00. We're under beautiful, clear, blue sky now, traveling along a very large, blue lake. The lake is trapped on both sides by high mountains. Our road is cut into one side - mountains drop precipitously into the water on the other. The lake has whitecaps sparkling on it's surface.
-Now I see a small town on the other side of the lake. I wonder if that's San Carlos de Bariloche?
-We're now going through what looks like fenced, high desert range land covered with puffballs of brush -- much like we have in the western US.
-Now we are driving around the end of the lake. We seem to be headed for the city that I saw across the lake. The lake is like Lake Tahoe only it's much larger and has higher and sharper mountains around it.
-The city I saw across the lake was Bariloche. The bus pulled into the terminal, then the fun began again. First, the hotel recommended to us by an Argentine in Chile had no rooms available. So we decided to take a taxi to town and find something. Then we couldn't find a taxi that would take the bikes. The taxi drivers just said 'no' and then ignored us.
-Then, again, a good Samaritan to the rescue. A man saw that we were having trouble. He offered to take our bikes in a his pickup truck (along with his wife and baby), and help us find a bank and a hotel. We ended up in a very low cost room (two twin beds and a set of bunk beds for 28 pesos/night) with a beautiful view of the mountains and the lake.
-We walked down to the very touristy main street of town and found a restaurant that didn"t look too bad. Then we ran into Alan, another O2K rider, who said he'd walked the whole town, and this looked like the best place. So we all went in and ate Italian food that ranged from pretty poor knochi to pretty good trout.
-Tomorrow we will explore the town. Hopefully we'll find a way to send some pictures home.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/11||-After we checked into the hotel with the beautiful view and bunk beds late last night, we discovered another peculiarity -- the bathroom.
-The whole bathroom is the shower. That is, the whole room is tiled, there is a drain in the center of the floor, and the shower head comes out of the wall high over two faucet handles. As you can imagine, taking a shower gets EVERYTHING in the shower wet. Not to worry, though. There's a long-handled squeegee for cleaning the floor after your shower, and I guess you are supposed to wipe down the sink, toilet and bidet with your towel.
-Another unusual (to us) thing is that the toilet flushes by pushing a button that is at eye level on the wall.
-(Later we checked out and moved into a hotel with a double bed, a separate tub\shower, and just as good a view -- for only $8 more and including breakfast.)
-This morning we (Lisa, Joan and I) went for a walk to find a hotel to move to while Larry dropped off the laundry and did some other things. We found WONDERFUL panaderias (bakeries) where we bought a few treats. Then we came across a tiny cafe that had real espresso. (We found that most cafes and restaurants serve only Nescafe "instant" coffee. Occasionally we find one that makes espresso. We haven't found any that make American style brewed coffee.) We had espressos with our bakery treats.
-We checked out many restaurants with an eye toward lunch and dinner, then we found a heladorium (an ice cream parlor) that was even more incredible than the one in Santiago, Chile. Since it was noon, we picked up Larry, went to one of the restaurants for some delicious soup and a small pizza, then we went back to the ICE CREAM PARLOR for dessert. (We're all wondering if we can eat our way around the world without gaining too much weight. :-) )
-Tonight we met Joan, Larry, Sandy and Roma at Friends Restaurant. We had cheese fondue. They gave us pieces of toasted french bread, pickles and hot dogs to dip.
-We found out that Sandy is a Unitarian Minister incognito, kind of. She says she doesn't advertise that she is a minister because people think she's other than "regular" if they know. (Karen-Ann found out, though, and the knowledge had a good effect. Karen-Ann is more careful with her foul and inappropriate language.)
-After dinner we went to a food store that Lisa discovered earlier in the day. We went there because they had a HUGE selection of homemade ice cream and an even HUGER selection of homemade chocolate. Larry had another ice cream. We bought a selection of chocolate candies.
-Then we walked up and down several streets looking for a bookstore that Larry had seen earlier so I could replace a book of his that I lost. [He had bought a mystery-thriller novel for me to read because he knew I liked them and he thought I had nothing to read while waiting for him to finish the book he is currently reading. He had given it to me earlier when we met on the street (in the rain) while I was moving our bicycle to the new hotel -- and I promptly lost it.] We were not successful in finding a replacement. I'll have to look in another store, or, perhaps, wait until South Africa.
-Lisa's sleeping now. I'm next.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/12||-Today those riders with either a lot of guts or a shortage of good sense made the ride over the 30 Km's of rough, wet, gravel road into Argentina. We met John T. (JT) this morning coming into town. He thought only about twenty were planning to do the ride today. I hope the weather was good for them.
-This morning, we met Sarah in the restaurant and had a leisurely breakfast together as well as a long talk about the shortcomings, screwups and intimidation's of TK&A. They (TK&A) DO keep giving us more ammunition for these discussions.
-Of current concern is where do we meet up with the group here in Bariloche. Tim has not told anyone yet as near as we can figure. Even JT, who was with the group yesterday, doesn't know.
-After breakfast, Lisa and I walked to two bike shops looking for a new seat for her. After riding Joan's bike for a day, she decided The "Terry Liberator Pro" is the one for her. We were not successful, but we did have a new experience.
-We always ask for someone who speaks English when we first enter a store. In JJ's Bike Shop no one spoke English -- but the owner spoke French -- so Lisa communicated just fine with him.
-In fact, Lisa found out from him where a FedEx office was. It was quite close so we walked there. Unfortunately, it was not FedEx, but rather, a general shipping company. However, it would cost us $180 to ship the photo disk back to the states.
-We'll check again at the airport on Monday. If the situation is the same, we will wait until Africa.
-After visiting the shipping company, we walked down to the lake. We discovered a restaurant, Casa y Pesca (House of Fish) tucked along the water next to the beach. At $20 for their Prix Fixe meal, it's quite expensive for this area. The ambiance is so nice though, we decided we'd like to come back. Hopefully tomorrow.
-We walked along the shore to the back of the cathedral, then up and around it. We looked in the doors but didn't have time to go in. We were scheduled to meet Joan at 1, then come back to the cathedral. Unfortunately, when we returned, it was closed. We'll have to visit tomorrow.
-When we met Joan and Larry earlier, they gave us a few pieces of our clothes that got mixed with theirs at the laundry. When we got back to our room, we checked the bag that we got back from the laundry. We found three pair of socks that weren't ours, and were missing four pair of bike socks.
-Back to Joan and Larry's to recheck their laundry. No luck, so on to the "lavantory" or Laundromat. Also no luck. They had no extra socks and no knowledge of such. (Probably the socks turned up in someone else's laundry.) So, we learned that when we send laundry out, we had better include an itemized list of clothes, then check it when we receive them back.
-I stopped at a bike store to buy some replacement socks. At $12/pr, I decided to get only one pair apiece. We plan to get more in South Africa. They couldn't be any more expensive -- could they?
-We had dinner tonight at a vegetarian restaurant with Joan, Larry, Dave and Pam (the same people we caught the bus out of Osorno wity.) It was a Prix Fixe dinner that cost us about $15 each, including two deserts and two bottles of wine. Is food cheap here or what?
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/13||-3:00 P.M. We slept late today. Lisa hasn't been feeling well. Went for breakfast and a walk at 10:30. The weather was clear and sunny and warm. A beautiful summer day in Bariloche.
-We walked to our favorite Panaderia and bought a few pastries, then went looking for a place to buy coffee. Found a delightful little Te (tea) Cafe where they made espresso and tea, and had ice cream, chocolates and pastries. We bought coffee, some more little pastries and some chocolates, then sat right there and ate all of the pastries.
-We took the chocolates and walked down to the cathedral. Again, it was closed. Since there are no horas (hours) posted, we'll try again later today and in the morning if necessary.
-The weather is so delightful, we decided to go get our books from the hotel, then return to the lake, find a sun-trap, and read. Unfortunately, when we returned to our hotel, Lisa had a stomach ache again, so she's sleeping now. I'll just sit here, finish this journal entry, and read.
-In our travels today, we met several riders just pulling into town. We found out that yesterday, when riders crossed the top of the Andes and rode the gravel road, there were all kinds of challenges. The early riders had snow. Later riders had a combination of snow and rain. There were many flats and many, many falls. A lot of riders opted out and SAG'd over the top and down the gravel road. Mountain bikers thought it was great. Road bikers thought it was horrible. All in all, a mixed bag. If I were 100%, I would have enjoyed doing it -- but Lisa would not have stood for riding in gravel. She's real chary about such conditions. (We're a good balance. I push her to new highs -- she holds me back from going over the edge.
-Today, the 56 mile ride along the lake from Villa la Angustura to Bariloche was a BEAUTIFUL. No headwind (as we've had for the last three days), short and very scenic.
-We found out from some of the riders coming in that they are camping tonight about 15 Km's out of town. We should be at the airport tomorrow by 1 P.M. for the flight to South Africa. And our gear is limited to 60 lb. per person. Anything heavier will be left behind.
-Lisa and I decided we may bicycle to camp tonight to check things out and, perhaps, have dinner and get the latest news. Then, tomorrow, we'll take our luggage to camp by taxi to load in the gear truck and the carryon truck. Then we'll taxi back to our hotel, pick up our bike, and ride to the airport.
-8:30 P.M. We're waiting in the lobby with Lynn (from Georgia, then Colorado Springs) for TK&A's final Word (via Larry and Joan) about tomorrow's flight.
-Larry has arranged with his innkeeper to have a van and a taxi (that will take us to the airport for $25) at his hotel at 11:30 tomorrow morning. Larry and Joan will load their bikes and gear, then come down to our hotel and pick up Lynn, Lisa and me.
-The question on everyone's mind is: Will THIS plane be large enough for everything??? We'll know tomorrow.
-Love to all, David and Lisa
|02/14||-1:30 Bariloche Airport.
-This morning we had breakfast, packed and then walked to the cathedral. The weather was beautiful -- clear, blue skies, no wind, warm. What a wonderful day for the riders coming in as they ride along the lake.
-Unfortunately for them, instead of staying in the barracks at the Argentine Army Training Center at the edge of this beautiful town, Tim has them camping in a pasture behind a horse stable. And yes, it has all the accouterments of a cow pasture -- including "horse apples" and "cow pies." (Glad we're staying in a hotel tonight.)
-Again, Lisa and I feel sorry for those riders who have little or no discretionary cash. We heard of one woman who has only allowed herself $5 per day for extra spending. That's really tough.
-The cathedral is designed in early European style. Surprisingly, it was built in 1946. It has tall spires, tall windows and a very tall bell tower
-It has lots of stained glass windows. Another surprise is that the depiction's are not all of Jesus or Mary. Many of then depicted early missionaries in monk-style habits -- most of them about be killed by various people in various ways.
-There were also several wood carvings depicting Jesus' walk to the cross. One was very unusual. It was a depiction of Jesus on the cross from a bird's eye view. At the bottom was the top of the crucifix and the top of Jesus' head. The rest of the carving showed the faces in the crowd looking up in various shades of anguish. I took a picture of it.
-Another carving showed Jesus' head and a corner of the crusifix. He is looking up at what looks like a new-born baby peeking over the cross. Is this saying Jesus died so we may live???
-11:30. We're waiting for Larry to arrive with the van and the taxi to take us all (Larry, Joan, Lynn, Lisa and me), with our gear and our bikes, to the airport. We have to be there to check in by 1:00 for the scheduled 3:00 o'clock flight.
-2:30. We've eaten lunch, checked our luggage and gone through customs. Now we're waiting in the boarding area.
-An announcement was just made that we'll leave in about 2 hours on a 747 that is owned and operated by a Shiek from the United Arab Emirates.
-The story (from one of the flight attendents) is that he owns several of these planes and does this for fun.
-Because the runway is so short, (this is the largest plane that has ever landed here) we can only load enough fuel to make the 1 1/2 hour flight to Buenas Aires. We will refuel there for the 9 hour flight to Johannesburg.
-5:30. We're off!
-Before I continue, I must relate a story. Years ago, when taking off, pilots would rev the engines up against the brakes -- then release the brakes and race down the runway for the take off. Recently, I asked a commercial pilot why they used to do that and why they don't do it now. He said that pilots used to do that to get under- powered aircraft up to takeoff speed on short runways. Now, he said, aircraft have plenty of power and runways are plenty long, so that method is not followed any more.
-WOW! We just did it! Like a slingshot! Runway end to runway end! With lots of fire and rescue equipment waiting and watching at the departure end. What a rush!!!
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