50 something km
I did get my butt out of bed at 7am to get into the hot springs though. An Argentine family we met the night before informed us that the pools would be closed after 9am for cleaning, so we needed to get a good long soak in before they pulled the plug. During our soaks, we met a lot of great people, some from Germany, but the rest from Argentina. We may have gotten some cool points for biking up that insanely steep hill, because the people that saw us biking up made sure to say hello and chat with us about the ride.
The next plan of attack for the day was to get to some dunes and take a crack at sand boarding. So, we packed up and left the hot springs 11am, trudged back to Fiambala, and ate a great lunch at a restaurant next door to the municipal hosteria. The information office gave us a card of a business that takes tours to the dunes for sand boarding in a nearby town called Saujin. So we hopped on the bikes and rode about 14 km to our next stop.
The ride north of Fiambala to Saujin was teeth-clattering terrible for first 10 km. The road was not pavement. It was literally a series of asphalt patches.... that’s it. I have never seen such an amazing feat of bad road maintenance. It must have been 20 years in the making! When we arrived on Saujin during siesta, all was quiet and we could not find this business anywhere as the card did not have an address. We had given up hope and decided to move on to the next town that was more populated, and as we rode on we finally saw a sign pointed down a dirt road to the place we were looking for.
When we arrived at the business, no one was there. Again, I was feeling a bit down on our luck, but our day turned around when we met Alfonso next door. He was a sweet, old Argentinean man in his 80’s, full of life. He invited us to have some grapes at his house, and we were psyched! Turns out that his land has been in his family for 200 years and for he has been growing grapes there for 30 years. We walked behind his house and saw these beautiful gigantic grape vines growing on a terrace that stretched out from the entire backside of his house. He had 38 grape varieties there. He had more in the fields even further back that he grew for grapes and raisins that he would sell for profits, but the ones in his back yard were meant to be an offering and shared with passing travelers and neighbors. And these grapes were in fact the best that either of us had ever had! Each had it's own unique strong flavor so different then the one next-door. Amazing. He was curious of our travels, but he also spoke wisely about Argentine politics and his philosophy on life. The simple life was his equivalent of a good life.
As we chatted with Alfonso, a pick-up rolled up with five Argentine guys looking for sand boarding as well. Alfonso lured them in with his grapes, and we chatted with them for some time. They pointed to the dunes down the road and told us to go check them out. So we walked up the path for a look.
I have never really seen big dunes. Florence has a vast array of dunes along the Oregon Coast, but this dune was much taller and it's surroundings breathtaking. So we hiked up to the top and played around like little kids, running, log rolling and jumping through the fine white sand. We never did sand board, but we really didn't need to in order to have a great time. After we filled our shoes up with sand, we decided we better head out to have enough light to make it home by sundown.
Sand-thrashed and thoroughly exfoliated, we biked back to Fiambala and found a campground called El Paraiso (Paradise). It was the best campground with services we have stayed at thus far on our trip. The owners Blanca, Jorge, and kids were super sweet and delightful to chat with. They had put a lot of care and attention into the grounds, and I greatly appreciated the cozy vibe there. Jorge crafted all the woodwork including thatch-roofed sitting areas at each camp spot, large pole beam structures, and tons details throughout. Somebody there also had a green thumb, as evidence by lush plants everywhere. They even planted patches of lawn for areas designated for the tents, which made it super soft and perfect for sleeping in. They even have a FB page, so look them up if passing through. At their regionales store, they sell a bunch of homemade wares and foods, so we bought the fig-coffee grounds. We were pretty exhausted that night and finally after a week of not sleeping so well, I slept soundly.