There had been a separate, mounting concern that had been steadily growing in the background. After leaving Villa La Angostura, we had noticed that we were getting some itchy red bumps on our arms and shoulders. They started small, and there were few of them, but each day some more seemed to appear overnight. Our initial assumption was that it was some kind of insect bite, or perhaps when picking calafate berries we had brushed up against some Argentinian form of Poison Oak or Poison Ivy. But as more happened, and the itchyness got worse, and MacKenzie's skin had some pretty severe swelling - we became less confident that these would heal on their own and more convinced that we needed to see a Doctor to find out what was wrong - did we need some antibiotics? Were they infected? They had seemed to get worse in the two days since we left San Martin, and the itching was pretty evil.
Friday morning we resolved to see what we could do to get a ride back to town so as to catch a doctor before the weekend. First by talking to the information center attendent, and secondly by hitchhiking our way back. After breaking down camp we rode the 12km trail from the campground to the info center and explained our situation, but they were unable to help us get a ride to town - and suggested we hitchhike.
We waited at the info center for a bit, but realized that almost all the traffic was heading in the opposite direction (as it was morning) and we most likely woudnt see anybody with a truck coming back to town until later that afternoon. So we decided to head out on the Road and see how far we could get. It was about 12:30 at this point and we were looking at 45 km of riding to get back into town, which on the terrible roads would probably add up to about 5 and a half hours to get back.
Since we were going back the way we came, I now had an exact elevation profile of the road in my GPS and was vigilantly watching it to know when the next hill was coming, and to make sure we were ultimately prepared for the crazy steep switchbacks that we now had climb to get back into town. We rolled past the spot in the road where we were picked up by Ernesto, and stopped for lunch at the same day use penninsula (I think it was named Yuco) to tank up on fuel for the impending grind.
After lunch we started in on the climb and within five minutes I hear the exact same zipping sound and the exact same high pitched 'Pop'. I admire the the new hole in my back tire, cursing the bike shop again for putting the new tire on the front. I barely have time to think about what to do next when a truck with national park logos on it rounds the corner. We flag them down and sure enough, they're headed back to San Martin, to their office, which happens to be across the street from where we rented the bikes. We yank off all our bags and throw them in the back of the truck along with our bikes and sit silently in slack jawed wonder at how the third fortunate mishap of my second ruined tire helped us to avoid climbing the ugly hill, and got us back to town with plenty of time to investigate our skin conditions.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I know what this particular ailment might be. A quick google image search confirms what I believe, and all the symptoms match the wikipedia diagnosis. All I needed now was some evidence. Back at our hostel we flip the mattress over and voila.. evidence of the root of our evil bites. -Bedbugs! I had heard they had become epidemic level in places like New York, but apparently they're here in Argentina as well. Ahhh Benadryl sure works wonders to remove all the swelling, itching and discomfort these bastards have wrought.