Rides bikes, paddles sea kayaks, takes pictures. Life on the road & my home in Cornwall.
The high puna/altiplano can be a punishing place to ride a bicycle, and inevitably at times when battling the wind, the cold, the altitude it is impossible on occasion not to want to be somewhere else. The moment it is left behind however it is missed; the landscapes, the quality of light, and the sheer emptiness of the place. It is something of a drug in that respect.
Having descended from the puna all the way down to just 1680m / 5533ft I cannot help but miss it, albeit while enjoying cold beer and icecream in the shady plazas of Argentina’s towns and villages. The difference from just a few days ago is remarkable. While in San Antonio de los Cobres the locals celebrated the first day of spring; it was so cold the river through the center of town was frozen. Not bad for a town just 100km or so south of the Tropic of Capricorn. By contrast, as I sit here just 320km later, the temperature is forecast to reach 37C this afternoon. It is still emphatically early spring however; the trees are just coming into leaf, and spring blossoms are appearing. In the early mornings when the air is soft and the birds are singing, the days have the feel of the most perfect early summer days at home. It is highly agreeable. For a couple of weeks at least I can also enjoy my elevated red blood cell count as a consequence of four months spent at between roughly 3500m / 11,500ft and 5200m / 17,000ft; cruising into Cafayate yesterday on a stretch of paved highway at 30km/hr I felt as if I hardly needed to breathe.
Cafayate is a lovely spot, and is also the place at which my current route crosses my route of ten years ago. I’ve been in a somewhat reflective mood as my arrival here closes the high altitude chapter of this journey, and opens a new one as I move east away from the Andes. I don’t yet have a route plan; inevitably there will be a much greater proportion of asphalt roads but so far asphalt represents just 15% of my journey total so it’s not too bad. By all accounts Córdoba is a beautiful province so it should be a nice ride. I have time on my side so before I set off a few days here in Cafayate enjoying the weather, the food, and the beer are in order I think.