Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday 22 Feb: leaving ruta 40 (again)

In Argentina, it's not worth driving anywhere unless you drive there quickly. And being stuck behind a tandem bike doesn't fit well with that. So most vehicles don't - they'll pass in however much (or little) space is available. This is bearable for cars, but really takes some getting used to for the large construction trucks. You normally get one toot, then it comes by. Unfortunately unlike Chileans, Argentines don't pave the road shoulders, so ditching off the road as they pass requires some skill and luck to avoid spilling on the gravel and rocks, especially if you happened to be carrying some speed at the time. As we get into the more inhabited areas this just takes a bit of getting used to!

Aside from this one niggle, we had a lovely day passing up the eastern shore of the lake, and then branching west across the long northern shore towards Villa La Angostura. In many ways this was very reminiscent of last time we left ruta 40 to fork to El Chaltén: The road layout around the lake, branching west towards mountains and Chile, and into the inevitable headwind! Fortunately the wind was nowhere near as fierce, but still we were weary to avoid a repeat of the mammoth day we had that time, so stopped relatively early around 4 when we passed what looks like it'll be the last campsite for a while.

It seems the majority of tourist traffic is Chilean cars heading back home. By far the most cross border economic activity we've yet seen; in general you did get an impression the two countries don't like to haven much to do with one another.

Our tent is now pitched next to our own private stretch of beach looking over the lake with mountains all around. Amazing! Feels like being at the seaside, only at 800m altitude. Makes me really wonder what lake Titicaca up on the Bolivian Altiplano must be like, but it'll have to wait for another trip for us to find out!