Malargue, dry weather and phallic stalactites!

MacKenzie next to a masterpiece of geologic art

Our next set of biking after our stay and adventures in San Martin de Los Andes started in dry sunny Malargue.  We decided to take a 18-hr  busride from San Martin de los Andes to Malargue because the routes in between those points were either scenic with a lot of kilometers of ripio, or paved with not as much excitement, and no services or rivers that would allow us to stay alive by drinking water.  It would be about 9 days of riding this stretch and we figured we might as well skip it and conserve those days to go off and do some interesting things further north.

So we left cooler and wetter Patagonia and arrive in Malargue bright and early on a Monday morning.  We sleepily took a cab that was a pick-up truck and could haul our bikes and he let us to the HI hostel there.  The owner also owned a tour company in town, so we decided to take a tour to the Caverna de las Brujas (The Witches Cavern) just about 60 km south of Malargue.   Ryan wanted to do some caving in this area and the original plan was to set up a 8 hr long session in one of the caves to go deep within.  But as we talked to people at the tour agencies, we came to find out that it is nearly impossible to do a longer session.  It is required to stick with a tour.  Only the people the spelunking club are allow entrance into the caves without a tour and there are no formal tours last more than 2 hours and go deep within the caves.  So, decision made.  We did the two hour tour into only the most visited parts of the cave, where in the past, a lot of poaching the stalactites took place about 10 years ago by crooked tour agencies from Mendoza.  This all according to our guide.  We did still get to see some amazing stalactites, but the poaching was truly unfortunate.
 
The hostel we stayed in was OK.  Owner was nice, the staff was decent, but the power went out frequently, the kitchen was weak, and water wasn't working for a day which made it very frusterating to not be able to clean up after a long grubby busride.  
 
Malargue also is known for goat cuisine - 'Chivito'.  We ended up trying some and weren't all that impressed.  Instead of a butcher, we imagine that there is a guy with a chainsaw that just chops up the goats into pieces small enough to cook, as nothing on our grill was identifiable as a part of a goat.  
 
Malargue is a small town, very flat, with lots of bikers in town.  This is just a function of life there to get around by bike.  On or way our we rode on some bike lanes out of town.

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