Okay Gringos…

So its been just over two weeks of travel, and I have not managed to get a single word out in this blog until now.  Apologies.  A lot has happenened since then…where does a gringo begin?  As I make my way from the bustling vacation destination of Mendoza, to the dusty countryside of Bolivia, perhaps two blog posts would suite this better.

Upon my arrival to Mendoza I was blessed with the presence of great people, and the sudden ability to speak  Spanish.  Mendoza is a very European town, and is equipped with all the comforts of home.  It is a vacation spot for people from all over the world.  Affluent Chileans and Argentinos flock there for holidays to enjoy perfect wines, and some of the best steak in the world.  3 days there certainly felt like nothing but a vacation, and I was often asked if I was on vacation there.  I think about this a lot, because after spending some days on my bike, and hopping busses to get through rough terrain, I ask myself:  what am I really vacating?  Certainly the comforts of home, but I am definitiely not here staying in fancy hotels.  We are far from Hawaii…

The Argentine lifestyle shocks your body as soon as you venture into the nightlife.  Our bars in the U.S. close at 2, and the late night crowds flock to cheap food, and quickly home for the night cap drink, the occasional joint, and maybe some late night love.  In Argentina, dinners often begin at 11 or later, bars service those looking for the pre-funk beers, and the dance clubs do not open until 2:30 A.M., when the North Americans are winding into sleep.  As for love…sleep in I guess.  This happens most nights of the week.  It is not uncommon to see the sun rise several days in a row.  Mendoza offered me a bitter sweet welcome to the beginning of my journey, but I left sick and disgusted by the money spent.  It was like going to Vegas the day before rent and utilities are due.   I spent my last night in Mendoza in a tent, eating pasta by a lake, and trying to save some money for my future journey.

Salta, roughly an 18 hour bus ride north, became the meeting point for me, Gabe Dunn, and Dylan Huerter.  We spent several days there getting the last bits of Argentine party syndrome out of us, got some fresh ink from the homey Omar, and got on the road.  The ride between Salta, and San Salvador de Jujuy was like a 2 hour downhill rollercoaster, with a long slooooow climb out.  Within 3 days of riding, we had crossed from lush jungle with pristine lake views, to high and dry desert.  Hydration is an almost impossible task.  You fill your bottles in hopes it will get you through to the next town, and you are constantly dry from inhaling dust on the highway.  The view, however, is like nothing I have ever experienced.  Many people bypass the vista by bus, snapping a few photos from the window, or at a rest stop.  By bike, one feels every curve, can compare every peak, and breath every last dusty air molecule avaible (not to mention fight off every stray dog you see).  Oh yeah, and did anyone else hear Osama Bin Laden is dead?  Loco…

Anyway.

When you enter the Jujuy region of Argentina, you do not feel like you are in Argentina anymore.  The more European looking folk start to thin out, and those you meet are usually tourists in their own country.  The indigenous population becomes more releavant, as do their traditions.  The popular drink, Yerba Matte, begins to slowly fade into Coca, an Andean tradition for thousands of years.  The illegality of this leaf in Argentina is irrelevant to the cultural signifigance of it.  In other words, police do not even think twice about it.

If you are remaining in Argentina, you probably are shocked at the difference between a town like Humauaca and the city of Buenos Aires.  If you are continuing North, you are preparing yourself for Bolivia, a country that is more or less composed of 95% indigenous peoples, and some of the nicest people I have ever met at that.

After 4 or 5 days of riding through the dry desert, we agreed there was not enough water on the 150k bikeride from Humauaca, to Villazon (the Bolivian border) and we dissassembled our bikes, and hopped a bus.

(stay tuned for Bolivia, and more deep shit as I discover what it really means to be a gringo!)

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One Response to “Okay Gringos…”

  1. aunt liz uncle jim Says:

    What a wonderful blog and sounds like a great trip so far, wow what great memories for you, so happy for you, but always a little worried, keep us all informed and entertained, you are a great writer! love ya..

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