Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Aimogasta to Tafi del Valle

If we'd imagined that we were going to take it easy on the riding after Iguazu (or rather without Ben&Sylvies good influence), we were very wrong!! (Although without their invaluable translation services we did have a rather interesting meal in Concepcion where, in a rather rash decision to go off piste with the menu and sample some of the local delicacies, we chose the dishes of Cabra and Conejo. Later dictionary consultation led to the rather alarming discovery that we had been eating 'Cabra - goat; nanny goat; cud chewing mammal closely related to the sheep', and 'Conejo - rabbit; any of several small species of rodent; (vulgar) vagina'. I'm not sure which translation was correct, but this was a cautionary tale in the importance of checking the dictionary before ordering, and of our ongoing need for Spanish lessons.) Rather than just heading straight North to Salta we had decided on a route that would allow us to make the most of the beautiful rural surrounds and take in a number of the tiny picturesque pueblos, in the foothills of some very large mountains. In order to get into the towns of Concepcion and Tafi del Valle there were also 2 very high passes to contend with.

This has meant some of the most beautiful and varied riding we have had to date, but also some of the most difficult. In the last 6 days we have covered 450kms, with over 6000m of climbs. The terrain has varied from cactus lined ripio to lush sub tropical forest, whilst the weather has been throwing everything it can at us to test the limits of our (tiny) wardrobes, from massive electrical storms to glorious sunshine, from sub-zero morning temperatures to scorching afternoons. It has sometimes seemed that the massive condors circling above our heads might have known something we didn't!

An interesting side effect of such intense riding seems to have been the fast-tracking of our friendship with new cycling partners Dom and Michelle from strangers to a level of over familiarity usually reserved only for those related to you, all in the space of one short week of riding!

We have now started planning for Ja's imminent departure in Salta, and for the (rather alarmingly adventurous looking) 4700m Paso Jama route into Bolivia.

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