April 20th –
Approx 100 km
In bed at midnight and up at 7:30.
We got back on the road headed North on Route 40. At this point, the goal of the day was to get to Londres, about 80km away, to visit some Incan ruins and see some hot springs the following day.
But our bodies were tired after multiple days of 100-plus km riding. We had really pushed it hard to see what we could handle and it finally caught up with us after about 5 days. I unsuccessfully kept squirming in my seat to try and find a comfortable position.
Masses of locals were taking over Route 40, be it by bike, horse, moped, you name it. All were en route to a nearby shrine for Semana Santa week (aka week leading up to Easter). The Latin American population celebrates this holiday more than Christmas, and it was evident by the masses we saw making a pilgramage to these shrines. It was the only the day before Good Friday at this point, so we would definitely see more in the next 3 days. We chatted up a biker who told us that about 3000 visitors are expected to make it to the shrine and then from there, many head further south to La Rioja to visit Senor de La Pena, a rock that supposedly looks like the face of Jesus. This was definitely the high point of the day.
During lunch, I had mentioned to Ryan that after riding 100 km days for much of the last week and being blown away by the beauty of the Fiambala region, I would be content ending our biking on a good note and taking off for Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires by bus.
So, we decided it would be our last day of riding, over salami and cheese sandwiches. Although our bodies were tired, we cranked out another 20 km past our original goal of the day, and arrived in Belen.
What an awesome way to end our biking in Belen when we found a really nice hotel and great dinner that night. We scored a room at Hotel Belen, the nicest place we had stayed during the trip. Later we went to a restaurant called 1900 where the food was absolutely amazing, some of the best most flavorful food, and well-prepared meat that we have had the entire trip. There was always a line out the door of people waiting to get in. We went another next night as well because it was just that good.
As for the bike tour in general, we had a blast! What a great way to travel and see a different place and learn about a different culture. We are looking forward to more touring in Oregon this summer and will continue to ponder what other countries we just might hit up next.