Cowboys and Canyons

I hope everyone had a great time over the holidays and that 2019 has started well. I had a wonderful time with my friends in Santiago and got going again on the 2nd of January. I’m currently on the doorstep of Patagonia, but as you know, the blog is a little behind…..

After the tough desert stretch, I rolled into the city of Salta in Northern Argentina. It was great to have a couple of days in an apartment to get ready for the next leg. ‘Getting ready’ basically entailed meeting up with Stephano and Tracey again (my Australian friends from the border crossing) and eating large quantities of Argentine beef, drinking the odd glass of wine and laughing at how hard the desert had been, but also how beautiful.

After a couple of days I was back on the road, and cycled through some very remote areas, encountering charming people, as well as staying in a few really comfortable guest houses and hotels. I also saw a few murals to Che Guevara, who was of course Argentinian by birth.

One unexpected surprise was stumbling across a genuine cowboy meet. It was the ‘lasso festival’ of the area, and yep, proper cowboys were demonstrating their skills. As I cycled onto the site, the compere also made sure that everyone knew that a touring cyclist had arrived, and I was made to feel very welcome indeed (as well as slightly embarassed by the big round of applause)!

As ever, the scenery was spectacular, particularly the drive along the 68, which passes through several canyons.

As I cycled through several villages I came across their war memorials to the fallen of the Falklands conflict. It was sad to see that even in tiny villages, significant numbers of people had been killed.

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I’ve been able to speak with a couple of Argentinians about the Falklands war. They told me that the Military Junta are despised for the abuses that went on in the country at the time, but there is still generally a strong belief that the Falklands (Las Malvinas) rightfully belong to Argentina. I’ve seen slogans on roadside signs and even on buses. The people I’ve spoken with explained that the feeling of injustice about the Falklands goes back a long way before the dictatorship and that they’d started the war simply as an attempt to gain popularity.

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My German side made me take a little detour to visit the village of Alemania (Spanish for ‘Germany’). Apart from the name though, there didn’t seem to be anything German about it!

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I also celebrated my 50th birthday last month. A few weeks before I had been on Ruta 68 and passed the 50km marker. Given that I was going to be 50 and was born in ’68, I thought this was one photo that had to be taken 😉

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A few more days’ riding saw me travelling through some beautiful countryside (including past my first vineyards).

When I reached the city of San Miguel de Tucuman I made the decision to bus the 1000kms to Mendoza. I’d been warned that this stretch was very boring, and there was no option but to cycle along the major road. This didn’t sound like a lot of fun, hence my decision to try to take the bus. Unfortunately though, Argentinian bus companies appear to be reluctant to take bikes, as the buses have limited storage. Luckily, having disassembled my bike once more, I was able to convince the conductor that really it was just like taking a couple of suitcases.

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Another reason to take the bus was that I fully intended to take a really good break in Mendoza and make the most of the food and wine culture the region is famous for. More in the next post. In the meantime, best wishes to anyone still reading!

47 thoughts on “Cowboys and Canyons

  1. amazing dear Stuart I enjoyed so much the story and the pictures a belated happy Birthday tell me the actual date so it will be on the Birthday Calendar. for the years come to – love a big hug and take care.

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  2. Happy 2019 Stuart….and happy Birthday what a great start 50yo OLD MAN..! Now you are in a new to me areas. I love the cowboys story and the spectacular scenery. Packing the bike for a 1000 km bus ride must have tested your ingenuity and stop over resources….The comments about “Malvinas” rang a big bell….I got as far as the Paraguayan border with my British passport in 1981/2. Interesting perspectives…ahhh for Mendoza wine and mild climate. Of course you are in the midst of Summer down there…..how will you ever adjust to “normality” whatever it can be or whatever you will make it. WITH YOU IN SPIRIT…ALL THE WAY George

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    1. Cheers George. As ever, good to hear from you. Packing the bike is surprisingly easy, as the ‘couplings’ basically allow you to cut the bike in half. As for Mendoza, it was simply spectacular. It’s the one place so far where I can wholeheartedly recommend people to travel to, whether they speak Spanish or not. As for normality, I think I’ll be ok. There’s a lot to look forward to in Europe! Good to have you along in spirit, and hope you’re well and wrapping up in Berlin, Stuart

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  3. I’m in love with one of your pictures. The one with the sun coming through the clouds.
    Thought we would see you dressed up as a cowboy.
    Another fab read . Xxx

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    1. Don’t think leather chaps would be a good look on me. Unfortunately, neither is lycra 😉 Yes, that was a pretty spectacular scene – but just one of many. The countryside is getting really interesting now, so hope I’ll have few more interesting posts ahead. Lots of love, X

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  4. Happy 50th Stuart! It ain’t so bad, your fifties. I am experiencing more freedom than I have ever had and I love it! One of the blessings of raising globetrotting children I guess 😁.

    What beautiful scenery in this blog and so many more wonderful people and experiences.

    I am looking forward to a birthday dinner when we can co-ordinate our London diaries later this year.

    Until then, safe riding and keep writing,

    Sue
    Xo

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    1. Cheers Sue. Think you’re right – much to look forward to. A dinner in London sounds like a grand idea. Or a dinner and trip to the Curzon. Now that’s something I’m really missing here! Hope all well your end too, X

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  5. Hi Stuart, happy new year and glad you’re safe. Once again, i’m in awe of your photographic skills. What a wonderful time you appear to be having. Stay safe mate! S&L

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    1. Stevie, good to hear from you! I am indeed having an incredible time – can’t really describe how awesome. I’m currently in Patagonia, which is giving me some pretty breath-taking days – often literally! Best to you and Lorraine, and hope your new year has started well.

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    1. Hi Marina (und natürlich auch Holger!). Danke Euch, und drückt bitte die Daumen für mich – bisher habe ich keinen einzigen Platten erlebt. Erstaunlich nach so vielen Kilometern auf teilweise echt schlechte Wege. Hoffe 2019 hat für Euch gut begonnen! Liebe Grüße aus Patagonien, X

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  6. Stuart

    Great pictures as ever. You could have given a horse a go, maybe swap it for the bike. You could have been away for years riding through the countries.

    We fancy Argentina, interesting part of the world.

    Never thought you were 50 and still got it……

    Stay safe

    Lots of love Lorraine and Emma
    Xx

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    1. Cheers Lorraine! I was thinking of having a ride, having had a couple of opportunities. But I know how much my legs hurt afterwards, so figuring it might not be such a good idea! I can highly recommend the Mendoza area – there’s loads to enjoy, and, unlike other areas, language isn’t an issue (unless one of you speaks Spanish?). Argentinians are super friendly too (but not quite in Colombia’s league). Patagonia is also spectacular, but just so enormous! Sending you loads of love from here, S x

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    1. Fi -congratulations on the papers – yay!!! And no, I didn’t put chaps on. And if I had done, I certainly wouldn’t have posted pics publicly – I’ve got my reputation to think of, you know 😉 Lots of love, S x

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  7. Stuart, once again a beautiful read and even more stunning photos! You should take this up as a hobby (hehe). Happy 50th (belated) Birthday to you! And so happy to read about your adventures!

    Lots of Love
    Marina xx🌸🌸

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    1. Thanks Marina! Good to know you’re still joining me on the ride! As you can tell, I’m loving every minute of it – so, so lucky. And the pics are getting spectacular now that I’d down in Patagonia (will take a while for the blog to catch up). Hope all well in your world too, and all the very best for 2019, X

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      1. Stuart, yes I am still here, smiling along the way :). I am looking forward to seeing the new photos. Have you come across anything ‘out of this world’ yet? (hehe) As in, any Aliens? 🙂 🌸🌸🌸

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      2. Glad you’re still smiling. No, the only other-worldly things have been the spectacular views. Although apparently there is the Patagonian version of the Loch Ness monster somewhere, so I’ll let you know if I see him or her 😉 X

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  8. Great shots of the cowboys and belated birthday wishes. Now you’ve entered vineyard territory, you be careful not to sample too much of the local produce before cycling…

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    1. Hi Mike, and thank you. The vineyards have treated me quite well. I’ve been fairly careful, apart from one visit where I ended up having lunch with the winemaker. It all got very messy, and after 5 1/2 hours there I thought I’d better cycle on. Unfortunately I still had another 16kms to go. Made it safely, although not sure what the locals thought about the singing smiling cycling extranjero 😉 Hope all good in your world too, and really looking forward to catching up this year!

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  9. Happy New Year Stuart and of course Happy 50th Birthday – I loved the RN68 50 snap and didn’t know we had so much in common… we were both born in 68 and both 50 in 2018!!! How did you keep that a secret all this time! Wishing I was with you in Mendoza for some of that beef and wine, enjoy and look forward to your next update. Al

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    1. Cheers Alan! Yes, I always tried to keep birthdays quiet at work – not really a big thing for me generally to be honest. Think it’s what being born close to Christmas does to you! Mendoza is absolutely spectacular, and well well worth a visit. It’s also one of the few places I’ve been so far in South America where not having Spanish wouldn’t be much of an issue either. I did think about you the other day, when Fera sent their new menu out – trust you’ve taken Mrs H already?! Hope all good in your world and that the new job has started well? Best, Stuart

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  10. Hi Stuart,
    Happy new year to you and happy birthday! We are still loving the stories and pictures. Its fantastic that you are still travelling and can I say, looking so well…it suits you. 🙂
    Keep the stories coming, it amazing what one can achieve with little supplies and makes me realise how materialistic life can be….you truly continue to be an inspiration.x Denise

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    1. Hi Denise, and thank you! It’s difficult to describe sometimes just how amazing it is – but I’ll keep trying! As for the materialism thing, it certainly does focus the mind. I’m venturing deeper into Patagonia now, and it’s super interesting to see the lifestyles people here have. And wait until you see the pics – it’s beautiful. Sending you both lots of love, Stuart x

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  11. Of course I’m still reading just not at the same time you’re posting!!
    Belated happy 50th birthday to you!!! The places you are riding through look beautiful and I thank God for The really lovely people you are meeting along the way. What an adventure!!! Take care x

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    1. Hi Deborah, and thank you! I have indeed been very blessed with my adventure – it’s even better than I had imagined. The scenery here in Patagonia (sorry, blog is bit behind) is truly magnificent. Hope that 2019 has started well for you, and sending much love, X

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  12. Hello Stuart, We’re still reading and loving the updates. Keep up the blog and the photos. Happy birthday from Dave, Jan and James

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    1. Cheers you three. Hope that you had a great Christmas – got any skiing in? I thought of you today as I passed a rugby field – keep on forgetting that the Argentines play too! Warmest from here, Stuart

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  13. Happy belated Birthday Stuart!! Your journey still continues to amaze me! What an incredible retirement you’ve had so far! Keep enjoying, keep exploring and keep writing (pics too!). Stay safe, Matt

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  14. Lieber Stuart, nachträglich alles Gute zum 50. und willkommen im “Club” :-). Auf dieses Ereignis werden wir mal ein ganz besonderes Fläschchen öffnen, wenn Du wieder in Berlin bist. Bis dahin aber weiterhin alles Gute auf der Südhalbkugel. By the way: Der Busfahrer könnte bei der Deutschen Bahn anfangen, die sind ähnlich schwer zu überzeugen bei Radtransporten.

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    1. Hi mein Lieber! Danke Dir – darauf sollten wir wirklich was trinken! Hehe, ich denke für die deutsche Bahn wäre dieser Kerl viel zu freundlich gewesen 😉 Hoffe bei Euch in Berlin ist alles gut und 2019 hat gut begonnen! Big hugs to you both, Stuart

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    1. Thanks Alison! Hope all good for you, and 2019 has started well? Please do give my best to everyone, particularly Rob H – heard what happened; sounds like quite the escape he had! And tell Rupin he’s still welcome to come out and join me 😉 Lots of love, Stuart x

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      1. Yes Rob H is doing well he was very lucky. Rupin is in India as we speak and going on to Sri Lanka for a surfer camp afterwards!!! Living the dream. All good here x

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  15. Stuart, again an exciting report on your tour through South America with fantastic photos. Interesting to learn that you visited the village of Alemania. Just wondering why it got this name.
    Sorry that we forgot your 50th birthday. Hope you do still accept our best wishes for good health and luck.
    All the best and take care
    Jürgen and Illy

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    1. Hi there you two! Apparently it’s got nothing to do with Germany, but sure that doesn’t stop us flocking there in our droves to take pictures! No worries re forgetting my birthday – frankly I almost forget it myself sometimes. and am the world’s worst at remembering others…. I’m in Patagonia now, so the pictures should be getting even more stunning once the blog catches up. Sending you both much love, and hope that the new year has started well for you. X

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