The Lagunas Route
With bellies and taste buds satisfied and all necessary jobs complete we set off along the rail line that would lead us to San Juan and the start of the Laguna route we had been anticipating so much.
The first stop came a mere 3k outside of Uyuni, an old train graveyard that promised ample opportunities for photos, unfortunately we didn’t take advantage of the desolate surroundings when we first rolled up and before we realised it hordes of jeeps had deposited their tourists who consequently filled every available space. This harem of individuals slightly ruined the experience and so with the un-welcomed crowds growing we made an early exit hoping to make good ground before the fabled winds picked up.
With our first day turning up minimum winds we were in good spirits and looking forward to riding a long day. That was until Jess and I went on a little route finding expedition that turned out to be a far bigger adventure than we anticipated. Not wanting to take the road that looped around we decided to follow some train tracks instead, thinking this would save us valuable kilometres and time. What we didn’t account for was the soft, energy sapping terrain we would be riding through. This quagmire like terrain then took on a whole other level. Jess’ bike sank. You may be wondering what I mean by sank, but her bike sank. It sank into the thick paste we had done so well at avoiding. It sank so far down that it was able to remain standing unsupported, no easy feat for a fully loaded touring bike! An even more challenging feat was removing the bike form its unorthodox position…
We finally got Jess’ bike out of the quagmire and eventually found the road we had snubbed earlier. Arriving into a small town to the smiling faces of Johnny and Ryan. The road had been a dream; our route had not!
To add insult to injury as we sat drinking a hard earned smoothie the fabled winds began to materialise. For the next 27km we rode into a head wind of Patagonian standards. By the time we made it to San Juan we were done, not to mention a slightly ashen colour form the numerous dust clouds that had engulfed us on the route in. Another rest day was in order!
With legs refreshed and food supplies for 10 days packed into whatever free space we could find, we were ready to go. A relative easy morning and then the road surface deteriorated and the gradient increased, with the first pass done we opted to camp in what little shelter we could find.
We awoke after probably our coldest night to date, Johnny’s thermometer said -15 at 6am. Breakfast and de-camp was done with constant hand warming breaks. It was here we think Ryan realised just how little food he had brought with him and before long he had left us in search of a Refugio and some kind Jeep tourists who could help him out. What he didn’t know was that at the first laguna we came across most Jeep tourists stopped for lunch, here two friendly Brazilians fed us ham and cheese sandwiches in exchange for our stories!
As the Jeeps all rolled out we savoured the last few crumbs we could find, this is where having a beard at homeless man level came in handy; any morsel of food that isn’t inhaled often finds its way into the tangled mess for later consumption. Once all the Jeeps had left we were also left to appreciate just how beautiful and surreal a place we had found ourselves. The obligatory photos of the flamingos and we were off following the faint dust clouds of the Jeeps.
Although route finding on this stretch of the trip wasn’t overly difficult due to the sheer numbers of Jeeps leaving a guiding trail of dust, what we did have to decide was which Jeep track would prove the easiest to ride, a challenge that often left one of us cursing as we pounded the pedals while watching someone else cruise by on some mystical hard packed track. Leaving the Laguna Jess an I opted to take the high road hoping that we would then have minimal climbing later on, Johnny, loving the flamingos and the lake opted to stay low. Johnny it turned out made the correct route choice, our Jeep tracks took us well out of our way and by the time we had back tracked to a track we thought would take us to our night’s destination Johnny was just another dust cloud in the distance. We crested a small rise to see the faint outline of Johnny, we had caught up with him we could see the mirage of two other cyclists;
“Ah haaa, we have caught the French again, pfft, look at them with their fat bikes barely able to stay ahead of us….”
Again we were wrong, it turns out Johnny had made some new friends who had joined the laguna route from another small entry point that we couldn’t even make out, they had had a pretty tough time getting onto the main drag due to deep sand and were looking as beat up as we felt.
We rolled into the refugio as a 5 and re-joined the French and Ryan, he had made good use of the tourists stocking up on fresh water and leftovers. We filled up with saline water and decided what the plan was for the evenings accommodation. At times like these the refugios hold a very strong attraction, four sturdy walls, out of the wind as well as creature comforts such as running water and possibly even electricity!! Unfortunately, our budget did not stretch to the astronomical prices the place was charging and even with a small room available for cyclists there was too many of us. Jess, Johnny and I opted to keep riding and try and find shelter elsewhere for the night.
We waved good bye to our new friends and pushed out into an increasing head wind, maybe we should have put up a bit more of a fight for that cyclists’ room…
A tough hour or so found us in an area of some kind of shelter so with little hesitation we set up for another night in this surreal landscape.
Ryan found our primitive shelter the next morning and we rolled out. Today was tough, the tracks seemed to climb endlessly at a gradient that played with the mind. It did not appear all that steep, in fact when riding the only inclination that you were in fact going uphill was the painfully slow speed. Luckily the roads weren’t too soft and for the most part we were able to stay in the saddle and ride. The most difficult part of this stretch was again, deciding on which Jeep track to follow, each of us had our own technique and ideas behind which one would take us on the path of least resistance; each one of us realised more often than not that it was more a game of luck than skill. We also realised that it wasn’t so much finding a track that would be good, just finding one that wasn’t as bad as the route your friend was one. We were all locked in a secret race that non of us were ready to admit we were playing. I was even less inclined to admit I had been racing when Johnny pulled way ahead and stopped to wait for Jess and I.
It was then apparent that our grumblings over the false flat were little to be upset about, as if hearing our distaste at climbing without seeing, the adventure Gods decided to up the threshold. The road kicked up and when it wasn’t slightly soft it was a boulder alley; again I’m not sure which we preferred, or should I say detested, the most!?
We finally reached what we hoped would be the top of a climb and began a super soft decent, to add a new element of difficulty into this we came head to head with the wind. As the roads deteriorated and the wind increased our periods of pushing started to become greater than our stints in the saddle, by lunch we had made it to a junction where we knew we had to ride in order to get water. 6km down this “road” was a hotel which we had heard was happy for cyclists to replenish water, we just had to hope they hadn’t changed their minds as no water here would leave us in a tricky situation. From this junction we could also see the horrible moral sapping climb into ever softening tracks that lay ahead, I say see; we could see when the wind stopped trying fill every orifice with sand and grit. With eyes streaming and legs aching we took the decision to try and camp at our water stop, hell, if the price was right we would get a room to escape the hellish wind that was now smashing us. Ryan, who still had his supply of fresh water from the Jeep tours didn’t fancy a 12km round trip so decided once again to forge alone. We waved goodbye and made as hasty retreat towards some form of civilisation. We found the hotel and were granted water, we were also teased with the luxurious rooms with hot and cold showers and shelter from the unrelenting wind.
It’s here I would like to say that we remained strong willed, got our water and then rode for a place to camp, but I would be lying! After smelling the food and seeing the red shimmer of the ice cold can of coke sitting in a fridge we enquired about a room. Maybe if it was quiet and they would give us a cyclists discount? Or maybe they too would have a small room like the previous establishment we passed and let us stay for free? We played out all these scenarios in our minds but no such luck! Upon asking about a room and being quoted a price that I thought was steep in bolivianos, 120, I was then informed with a slight chuckle that he was in fact quoting the price in dollars. Pfft, I’ll take that little patch of dirt then you offered me before, out by the staff accommodation. Within a few more hours the rest of the cyclists had arrived and we went about setting up camp in whatever wind shelter we could find. Tomorrow we all hoped this wind would subside allowing us to ride what lay ahead.
After a cold night and an equally cold morning we were up and off. The climb was once again a system of trying to choose the path of least resistance, again in all honestly all paths were soft and heinous to ride. Things were made all the worse when the French with their 3.8 inch tyres came bimbling past while Jess and I fought to stop our bikes from sinking too deep, a losing battle that we eventually succumbed to. As we pushed we watched the French slowly disappear into the morning sun. Once we had given up with the act of trying to show the French we could keep up with them, and excepted what lay ahead of us, we actually didn’t mind the tedious chore of lugging the bikes. The infinite tracks that spread before us left no end of route choices, all woeful, couple that with the stunning landscape and the day wasn’t turning out all that bad.
By midday we had ridden and dragged our bikes to the infamous ‘Arbol de Piedra’ or ‘Stone Tree’ to those less linguistically gifted folks. This is a major tourist stop for the Jeeps and I was excited to see we had made it with only one Jeep in sight, even better that Jeep was just leaving as we pulled in. For a good hour we climbed and jumped and played around the rock formations that have been shaped by those same hellish winds that have been hindering our ride, we had the place to ourselves and it couldn’t have been more surreal. Eventually, the dreaded dust clouds began to appear on the horizon, and from them appeared the swarms of tourists. Jess, Johnny and I decided this harem of tourists had somewhat squashed the magic of this place so retreated to a sheltered spot to watch from a distance, we had made up our mind that we had to camp here if only to experience this majestic place in peace once again.
For two or so hours we watched the tourists with odd satisfaction, how different their experience of this place was to our own. Queuing to get that photo and then having to rush to take it so the next person could get their shot before their Jeep left. The constant angle adjustment trying to find the shot with the least people in it. Watching this spectacle play out before me made me realise just how lucky we were to be experiencing this route, this country, this continent even, by bicycle. Yes, no doubt about it, we have had our asses kicked on more occasions than I care to remember by mother nature. Yes, we have laboured and struggled to deal with the terrain in order to get here. Yes, I was envious of those rich guests checking into that 60 pound a night room with their hot showers and running water. But, I did get to experience this place like non of those people would, and that I realised, especially sat watching them all, was worth every curse word; every sore muscle, every cold night and every pining look at that can of coke we couldn’t afford or carry!
We set up the tents as the last of the tourists made there exits, getting the pegs in was somewhat of a challenged in such a sandy location but if mother nature was kind we would be sheltered from the wind, Johnny, always one for view, had decided to drag his bike an extra 100m up a steep sandy ledge to get the penthouse suite, Jess and I however, were more than happy just a mere 20meters from the main route through the rock formations. As the sun set the three lads had one last run around getting any snaps we could while the girls decided they had seen enough and took comfort in a tent full of down. This always seems to be the case and I still cannot decide if Jess is being stupid in missing the sunset and the unbelievable light display mother nature puts on each day or sensible as I always bustle into the tent in a half frozen state struggling to get into a warm sleeping bag?
We survived the night with either our tent position being perfect or maybe there was just no wind over night, the one downside was that we were very much in the shade when morning broke. I cooked a good 100m from the tent to try and suck any warmth I could from the sun and slowly moved the kitchen ever closer to the tent as the sun tracked closer. As we de-camped we went to check on Johnny who it turns out had enjoyed his penthouse suit so much he had overslept and was just about out of his tent and cooking. We agreed to push on and meet him a little further down the trail where we were sure he would catch us.
The track out was easy going and slowly but surely it became some what firmer until the soft sand was a distant memory and we were back bouncing over horrible washboard and rocks, this condition took us all the way to the border of the national park where we once again had to fork over our money in order to be allowed passage through. Again this is something I’m not sure I agree with, paying in order to see a natural sight, to be allowed to experience nature seems wrong to me coming from the UK where all our national parks are free to enter. Then again if this money I pay goes towards preserving this beautiful place then surely it is a good thing, my only question is, how much of this money actually goes back into the park and how much of it goes into the pockets the government? Judging by this horrible road we were now on it doesn’t go towards that!!!!
This entry gate was our next chance to stock up on some food and more importantly, water! It was also our roughly agreed meeting point with Ryan, he was nowhere to be seen, luckily there was a tap for fresh water! We also found the French, they had opted to take a rest day here before taking on the final stretch of this Lagunas route. We got what limited supplies we could and pushed on. From here the going got tough, although Laguna Colorado was beautiful we were becoming a bit de-sensitised to these stunning views after being spoilt for so much of the route previously. We also knew we had a tough climb ahead of us and were keen to try and crack on with it and hopefully camp at some geysers.
Long story short, we didn’t make it to the Geysers. We had one of our toughest day on the bikes to date with the wind once again kicking our asses. All started well even if we were on a horrifically steep climb at 4100m. The going was slow but we were making progress. After one particularly steep section in which I had taken Jess’ bike from her to help her with the worst of the gradient, I returned down to my bike some 300m lower down this precipitous climb when a tourist from a jeep tour came running up the road to me. A brief conversation followed which ended with him apologising for having nothing more and handing me a Banana. I’m not ashamed to say I was choked up, we were now getting smashed by a wind, the hill was unrelenting and we were struggling. This guy was apologising that he had nothing more than a fresh piece of fruit for me. Little did he know just how good this slightly browned banana was in my eyes and it gave me a much needed moral boost to get back on my bike and churn the gears to try and catch Jess and Johnny to share my good fortune. Jess it turned out wasn’t overly keen on bruised bananas but Johnny and I were more than happy to take some much needed sustenance on board. This is another perk of cycle touring, even the smallest of things that people take for granted are seen in a new light. We couldn’t find any fresh fruit or vegetables for this entire route, and here this guy was with too much and not seeing just how good it was, to this date it is one of the best bananas I have ever tasted!
Unfortunately, the moral boost didn’t last all that long, we had overcome the steepest sections but the road was still climbing and our legs were feeling the strain. Adding insult to injury was the wind, before long our slow pace had dropped to walking pace and even slower. Pushing became near impossible as we battled with heads down. As the hours ticked by the Kilometres barely moved. We were running shuttles in order to move the bikes over the terrain all the while trying to find any form of shelter to get the tents up. The landscape was bleak, there was no where to get out of the wind and after what felt like hours we were spent. Spying what looked like the remains of some other unfortunate souls shelter we decided this was as good as it was going to get. We got to it trying to build the shelter up to provide as much protection as possible from the ferocious wind. After too long we had a very primitive shelter, if you can call it that, but all that was left was to get the tents up. DAMN. Our shelter wasn’t big enough for two tents, no matter how we shifted them it just wouldn’t work. With Jess already taking refuge inside our tent Johnny bit the bullet and opted to move his tent rather than make Jess re-emerge. With both of us fighting with the tent and the wind we managed to get it into some form of a semi-respectable spot, got the four biggest rocks we could to stop it from disappearing over the horizon and then began tensioning. It was here disaster truck as with a combination of cold weather, strong winds and over zealous movement we managed to rip the fly.
It’s a times like this Johnny shines. He has had more than his fair share of unfortunate incidents with either his tyres or his petrol soaked sleeping bag, but now with his tent. Still calm as you like he took it on the chin, stuck some gorilla tape on rip and accepted the fact that it had happened. He was into his tent without little more than a shrug. Its funny, take the wind and the cold and where we were could of been beautiful; instead, we were miserable, the whole place was noisy, cold and generally difficult. If the shoe had been on the other foot I’m not sure I could have dealt with this set back quite so calmly.
With the stress of the previous night we were rather lacking in motivation to get going the next morning, even when we were awoken by some passing tourist jeeps who honked and cheered while we stayed cocooned in our tent. When we did finally emerge and begin with the standard routine the tourist train was in full flow. Two jeeps even stopped to allow their occupants time to snap the perfect photo of these idiots camping in such a desolate and barren location. We obliged with the raised coffee mugs to show just how sophisticated we were. Little did they know that our coffee mugs were in-fact empty and up to this amusing moment we were actually struggling to motivate any form of smile or movement. Still, this slight deception and the obvious awe in which these tourists were showing us brought about a realisation of how lucky we were to be here. Yes, last night had been tough, the legs were tired and we still hadn’t made the top but people were actually amazed and jealous by what we were doing and the experiences we were having, both good and bad!
,With that our moods lifted, helped by our empty mugs now being full of hot steaming cowboy coffee, or hot chocolate in Jess’ case, we decamped and were back on the road knowing that it couldn’t be too much further to the top.
As we crested the hill we finally saw how close we had come the previous night to the geysers. We also saw that the camping wouldn’t have been much better than were we were due to the tourists using the best bit of shelter as a toilet!
As we rolled in the last of the tourist jeeps pulled out leaving us to experience the geysers in solitude. The constant roar of the gas escaping the only sound. The geysers were well worth the added few kilometers and we spent a long time playing in the steam clouds and watching the mud bubble and spit, last nights trials and tribulations all but forgotten!
From the geysers we had a long down hill to some hot springs, somewhere we were looking forward to camping at and making the most of the warm waters. What we didn’t expect was the number of tourists that would also be there, I don’t know why the sheer number of tourists kept surprising us?! We arrived to what can only be described as a car park. At least 20 jeeps were haphazardly parked in any flat space that could be found and hundreds of tourists splashed or lounged around the pools. We opted to do a spot of people watching and wait until the rush died down before we tried to squeeze our grotty bodies into the pools.
We decided that camping at the hot pools was the best decision and a late night dip was on the menu, we also, after trying to pitch our tent in very soft sand in strong wind decided that we would take the restaurants offer of to sleep on their floor. Johnny was keen to spend another night under canvas and managed to find some half decent ground to secure his tent. We were joined inside by the French and, much later, another lone cyclist rolled in looking rather worse for wear. He had just done a huge day from the stone tree to where we are now, but was more concerned about his friend he was apparently riding with! Apparently he had lost sight of him on one of the climbs and had been pushing on ever since to try and catch up with him. Looks like in his rush he must have passed his mate who no doubt got his tent in a sheltered spot and called it a day, I mean it was nearly 8pm, very few cyclists would be riding at this time in this wind.
Just as we had convinced the German cyclist, who we had previously shared a room with it turns out in Cusco, that his friend was probably already asleep a lone bike-packer rolls in all smiles and loving life. Hell, what is this guy on, he looked positively fresh after a humongous day in the saddle. The restaurant floor was now filling up quickly as our group of 4 was now a 6 but they were happy for us all to stay as along as we were up and out before the first jeep tour came for breakfast, 7am!
Turns out the lone bike-packer was another cyclist we knew, or at least knew of… We first came across his name with Phillip and Nicci in Colombia, we even sang happy birthday to him down the phone, we then heard his name mentioned by Dean and Dang who we rode the Peru Divide with. Funny just how small the cycle touring world is. It also explained why such a huge day wasn’t a concern to him, this was a normal day for Scott, we had heard countless tales of his epic days in the saddle on the dirt.
A rather social evening followed as we all cooked and ate and then ventured into the hot springs for a late night wash, turns out some of the jeep tours stay in a hotel here so our plan of a quiet dip was ruined by hordes of beer drinking 18 year olds but it was still worthwhile to just soak away the weeks worth of grime. Jess had decided that it would be far too cold to go in the dark and had made a wise decision to use the pools when they were empty earlier on, having a far more relaxing time than I achieved…
With an early start so that the we were up to see Johnny taking a morning dip, we agreed we would set off and he would once again catch us on the trail. We said goodbye to our room mates as we all left in dribs and drabs each with our own plan for the day ahead. The road was relatively easy going with only the train of Jeeps causing any major issue, some didn’t seem to understand that if they drove passed us at brake neck speeds we got sprayed by gravel and stones, a few angry exchanges we made that went a small way to making us feel a little better about our predicament. Not all the jeep drivers were crazy though, lots slowed down if only to allow the tourists to get a decent shot of the idiotic cyclists riding up a long sandy hill, again one jeep even pulled over so the occupants could clamber out to get a better snap shot of us as we sluiced through the occasional deep patch of sand.
As the day progressed Johnny still hadn’t caught us and with the wind picking up we took shelter in an old abandoned house to wait for him, it was here that Jonas, the German cyclists, joined taking a welcome rest from the hellish wind that was starting to cause us no end of problems, turns out all those photo stops were coming back to bite us in the ass!
From our sheltered perch we eventually saw the distant bike shaped dot that we hoped was Johnny, we were wrong. The French who we had passed earlier were making there way down but rather than taking our track they jumped ship, opting to cut the day short missing Laguna Verde. It was here that Johnny appeared and not seeing us presumed the French were blazing the trail for him, off he went blissfully unaware that his day was about to become a whole lot shorter if not a little less exciting. Seeing this we waved goodbye to Jonas who was planning a siesta and we rode off.
Back to just Jess and I for the first time in a long time it was nice to just be in each others company again, eve if it did mean me sitting at the front getting smashed by the wind while she tried to use me a moveable windshield.
All the effort of riding was wroth it when we crested a slight rise to see Laguna Verde tucked away. It was like looking at the Caribbean Sea, only, it was freezing. The salt crystals gave the effect of a perfect white sandy beach and the wind was creating sizeable waves to really make the image complete. All that was missing was a palm tree or two, instead these were replaced by a volcano as a backdrop!
We snapped some obligatory photos and then resumed our battle with the wind. We had heard about an abandoned hostel somewhere round this section so with eyes peeled we rode steadily onwards along the shores of Laguna Blanco.
As the wind increased our hopes of finding this abandoned shelter seemed to get blown away and before really realising where we were we had made it to the newer refugio and the park exit. It was here we spied the Frenchies bikes and also Johnny with a big grin wondering why we had emerged from the opposite way to him. We opted to hide from the wind and take some respite in the refugio and here we stayed for the next two hours, the longer we sat the more intense the wind became. Just as we were mustering up the motivation Jonas practically crawled through the door, he had taken his nap and awoken to this wind, he had then gone on to try and ride into it. More sitting and a bottle of coke later and we had resigned to the fact we were making no more headway today. All that was left was for us to try and locate some form of shelter, Jonas was the first to check out a possible location only to return glum faced, the big storage shed we had hoped we might be allowed to put our tents in was locked and they were park wardens were not prepared to open for us. The second option involved camping around the back of the refugio we were currently taking shelter in, again this didn’t fill us with much desire to get up as it was where they dumped their bins.
After much deliberation we gave in and asked for the price of a room, a deal was struck where we could, if we could get the necessary funds, sleep in a room that was usually for the jeep drivers; 8 mattresses and the refugios generator as a way to lull us to sleep. We worked out if we all put our money together, and Jess and I could use some Chilean money and some Argentinian money that we had found buried deep in one of our panniers we could stay. Our luck was in, they rather reluctantly accepted our mish-mash of currencies and we were shown to our humble abode for the night. The French had opted for the room much earlier and even went for food, we however would be cooking in the back, much to the amusement of the staff and other guests.
Turns out the majority of the guests were part of a tour group from an adventure company based in the Lake District and as the night went on, and the wine began to flow, for them, not us, conversations were started. One lady was an avid cyclist and was amazed at the trip we were all on, she even went about smuggling food supplies from her table to us. She even pilfered half a bottle of red wine which went down a treat! They were supposed to be doing an acclimatisation trek the next day and hangover was the last thing most of them wanted!
With the aid of the red wine, the knowledge that this would be our last night in Bolivia and the last 10days brutal effort we were all quickly asleep and very unwilling to wake up the next morning and brave the elements once again; the generator fumes may also have had something to do with our rather groggy nature.
Once again we were the entertainment as we set up our stoves and pulled out the last dregs of food we had remaining after countless days with no chance of a re-supply. Porridge with a spoonful of sugar was all we had left, luckily our friend from the previous night was on hand to pass us some smuggled pancakes as an added motivator.
From here it was our last climb of Bolivia; a stinging uphill all the way to the border. As we crested we were met with looks of admiration from the queue of tourists who had either passed us previously or who were just commencing their Lagunas trip. It was also here that we heard of the exit fee that was being charged… This did not bode well, we literally didn’t have a coin after having to cobble together every last cent to get the previous nights accommodation; we nervously observed each tourist as they went and got their stamp, seeing each one get asked for the money.
As it came our turn we opted for the age old tactic of play dumb, we got to the front handed our passports and waited for the awkward moment when we confessed we had no money to give them, all we got however, was a quick question about whether or not we were cycling and a cheery goodbye; looks like we are exempt from the exit fee, maybe they have had this problem with weary, dirt encrusted, over tired cyclists before and realised we often don’t have much left, either way we left smiling.
Smiling for maybe the next 2 minutes before the route into San Pedro revealed itself. Ok, so it was all paved but the road climbed and climbed, this was probably one of the toughest climbs we have done, I don’t know if it was just the unexpectedness of it or the fact we thought it should have felt easier than it was proving to be because it was paved. Whatever the problem we were damn near broken when we finally saw the downhill. We also couldn’t work out where to get our entry stamp for Chile, the only building we had seen was still being built and we really didn’t want to have to venture back they way we had come.
With nowhere to go to get the stamp we began the decent, for the next 45minutes we would travel at speeds only dreamed about for the last 2 weeks. We dropped from near 4000m to roughly 1000. We set off in gloves and jackets and before we reached the bottom we were delayering in the tropical heat. We briefly saw one poor cyclist going the other way, he whooped and cheered for us as we charged past him, unable to get the breaks on and stop in time.
We bottomed out at a bridge and before us saw another slight climb; with groans and grumbles expecting the same performance we had all witnessed near the top we dropped gears and tried to maintain as much pace as we could. Before we new it the climb was behind us, turns out there is a hell of a lot more oxygen down at this altitude and this, what would be zesty climb, had been demolished in our oxygen saturated states.
We rolled into San Pedro on a high and went in search of a cash machine, food and accommodation, in that order. Disappointed by the cash machine that charged to withdraw and a meal that wasn’t as extravagant as we were hoping for we set off in search of accommodation.
The next few days were spent enjoying the relative luxury of San Pedro, well I say enjoy, I unfortunately had to pay a trip to the dentist as the tooth that had bothered me in Argentina, Chile and Brazil had decided he wasn’t happy again. Turns out a root canal was in order so the next four days saw me receiving hours of treatment while the rest of the crew enjoyed the beers. San Pedro also marked the end of our time with the other cyclists. Jess and I were catching a bus to Santiago for a friends wedding, Johnny would be flying home to Ireland for Christmas, the rest of the cyclists would be carrying on south.
It was a some what bitter sweet occasion, we had now made it all the way around south America, we had pretty much finished what we came to do but at eh same time we were now saying goodbye to a bunch of guys we had spent the last 2/3 months with. We had shared campsites, hotels and even rooms. We had laughed at each other and with each other. We had carried one another’s bikes when we were struggling. Its weird, 2/3 months isn’t all that long, but when you’re going through the experiences we were sharing this acts as a pretty strong glue to hold the friendship together. We waved goodbye with promises of future adventures to be had and off we went our separate ways
For the next month we will be playing backpacker!
Danny and Jessica living the nomadic dream.