Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sweet Carretera

Friday 25th

We wake - we leave our abandoned house (with a gift of new firewood ready in the wood stove) and see this.

The roads descends steeply into a deep valley. Roger is still working hard the day heats up and I cycle in shorts and t-shirt for the first time since Tierra del Fuego. We criss cross the river affording great views along the valley.

Then suddenly out of nowhere we climb 600m. The ripio is horrible and we both crash out on the steeply cambered bends cursing and walking sections, unable to remount on slippery sand. The gradient is as steep as anything so far and we crawl sweating in bottom gears for an hour and a half. All good cycle touring stuff....

Then the summit and a change in vegetation. Up until now it´s been the usual mix of lenga (beech) trees and dry grass that´s been the feature for the last 2000kms. Suddenly the vegetation grows dense and almost tropical rainforrest like. Huge ferns and giant leaves now support an army of insects and giant bees and wasps drone around our sweaty heads. Clearly there is water here and as we descend into the next valley we look to the crystal clear, condor filled blue skies in bewilderment.

We reach a stretch of roadworks and pick our way through strength sapping sticky mud to the entrance to National Park Quelat. We see a sign for camping - and a part built administration building. No contest really - it has a roof and we don´t have to pitch the tent for another night. The park ranger who arrives to close the barrier to the park is a little confused by our choice of accomodation, but seems to go away happy, so we settle in for another night under a roof.

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