More Ripio and Swearing on Route 71
We got a late start the next morning in Cholia. We did some bike maitenance and tune-up since we were the ripio had been really hard on the bikes. Ryan´s tires were way out of true, and all of our parts were covered in sand and dust. After about 11am, we headed out and once again, hit the rough gravel roads. These were even worse than the day before.
One of the highlights of the day when Ryan found a mate bombilla on the side the road made out of a bullet. As he stated, if Clint Eastwood were to drink mate, he would drink it with this. Mate bombillas are the straws that one drinks the very ritualistic caffinated mate tea here in Argentina. It´s so ritualistic that everyone carries a thermos of hot water with them with cups and bombillas with mate herbs and sip on mate all day long. And I thought coffee was addictive.
So after some walking, a bit of riding, and a lot of swearing, we almost decided to give up and hitch a ride. But at that point to get over the last big hill of gravel before the road turned to pavement. It was at that moment that Ryan spotted a dirt path off the side of the road, and although still not that great, it was a much better alternative. We made it up and the roads improived gradually until, thank god, we saw asphalt. It had taken us about 3-4 hours to go about 21 km on the ripio.
Once on the asphalt, we went another 10 km or so and made it to Epuyen where we met another bike tourer from Argentina who was on a 1-yr long trip through Argentina. His mountain bike was ready for gravel and he was a really energetic, great guy. We said goodbye and the headwinds had picked up. We wanted to get to El Bolson, but still had 40km to go, and it was getting late in the day. So, we camped at Lake Epuyen about 8km down the road. A lovely campsite with French owners, a great restaurant and micobrews, along a beautiful l
ake. The people that hung out there were artist-hippie types and all were extremely friendly. It was a great place to camp.