Jan. 18, 2011: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina

It's doing this sort of thing that makes one appreciate the small things in life. A shady tree. A bottle of cold water. A bar of soap. A packet of shampoo. Holy crap, air conditioning!

All of this, and more (well, except for the first one) awaits you at the Hotel Isis in Carmen de Areco! I had the best, and longest, cold bath of my life tonight. Oh man!

Anyway. I've decided that there will be a change in plans. I am reminded of just how much I don't like mountain bikes. They are exhausting to ride, and I can't make nearly as good time on them as I can on my old road bike. On the latter, I usually manage upwards of 25km/h, but on this thing, it's been a pretty consistent 15.

Also: this country makes for a pretty decent human oven for most of the day. The only way it's terribly manageable is for me to bike as far as I can in the morning, followed by an afternoon siesta (as the locals do; I mean, why not follow the example that they have determined works?) and then a resumption of the road in the afternoon.

Which is all fine and well, but it means I can't make 150km/day. No way, no how. And hence, don't have the time to make it to Santiago. I was worried this might be the case, and the worries have been realized. If I had an extra week... but no use dwelling on mighta'beens.

But I'm mostly fine with that. I figure that I'm on holiday dammit, and I want to actually enjoy myself! There's no point in wearing myself out chasing after some goal that isn't really attainable.

So, yeah. Whatever. I'll go as far as I can until next Wednesday or so (depending on where I am), then take the bus the rest of the way.

The only real downside is that I will spend all my time working through the "boring" part of the country, and miss biking through the mountains where it should be interesting. So I'm going to see whether it's possible to take my bike on the bus, then do that to Mendoza or so, and bike the rest of the way. Maybe.

In Carmen de Areco (which being small and a few km off the main highway, has no tourist trade to speak of), I found a great parilla where I had the first proper Argentinian meal (unless you count the omnipresent empanadas) of the trip. (No matter how I tried, I couldn't find anything in Buenos Aires that wasn't a tourist trap, and if you recall, I didn't have anything for dinner on Monday at all). Muy muy excelente!

Aside from the above, How did I know it didn't cater to tourists? Because of the stares I got when I tried to order an ensalada. "Hey, get a load of this guy; he wants plants with his meat!" After some back-and-forth, they finally decided it was doable, and basically recited a list of the vegetables they had on hand that they were able to chop up and put on a plate for me. Half the names were ones I didn't recognize, so there was a lot of me guessing and going "sí" and "no" at semi-random. Turned out pretty good though! Heavily tomato, carrot, cabbage and beet based.

Tonight's wine: Estancia Mendoza Cabernet/Malbec 2010. Another one I quite liked. The parilla didn't have a menu as such, just a bunch of bottles on the counter. I picked one that looked most interesting. A little on the raw side, would probably be really good in another year or two.

Posted on: Thursday Jan. 20, 2011 @ 22:52 MST
Re: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina
Sean said:

was told it depends on

On the other hand, the internet is telling me that "depends on the driver" may just be officialese for "sure, if your tip bribe is big enough. "
Posted on: Thursday Jan. 20, 2011 @ 22:43 MST
Re: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina
Bah. Asked at the bus station about taking the bike on a bus, and was told it depends on the driver; some allow it and some don't.

Which is probably the worst possible answer, albeit not an unexpected one. Makes things difficult to plan.
Posted on: Thursday Jan. 20, 2011 @ 19:00 MST
Re: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina
DW said:

suggests Southern California

Oh, totally. The countryside and the towns have very different atmospheres, in that respect. Riding through the country is a lot like riding through much of the Alberta parkland... until you get to a town, when everything changes. Those palm trees, for example. They're clearly ornamental, and not native; pretty much every town has them lining the boulevards and in the plazas. But I have yet to see a single palm tree (or anything really similar) outside of a town.
Posted on: Thursday Jan. 20, 2011 @ 14:36 MST
Re: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina
The countryside may remind you of Alberta, but San Andrés de Giles suggests Southern California to me.
Posted on: Thursday Jan. 20, 2011 @ 03:41 MST
Re: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina
Tyson said:

hope you're enjoying

V. much so, yes.  Really, except for that one day...
Posted on: Thursday Jan. 20, 2011 @ 00:57 MST
Re: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina
Looks both interesting and tasty. Too bad you can't get the whole plan done, but I hope you're enjoying yourself.
Posted on: Wednesday Jan. 19, 2011 @ 22:52 MST
Re: Carmen de Areco, BA, Argentina
Also, stay tuned for Wednesday's updates. It's been an interesting day so far...

<-- journal index