Biking From Chacabuco To Vedia in Argentina

Chacabuco, Argentina

I had a great time staying in Chacabuco, it was a town of about 50,000 people as I was told, and for sure I met some of the coolest ones there.  It has been several years, heck almost 4 years since I was there, so kinda strange writing a post about my bike trip in Argentina now, but I just came accross a picture that demanded it be scanned in a posted about.

So let me try to paint the picture, I had been in Chacabuco for about two days, and met up with a young guy and his sister.  I can’t quite remember what these people’s names were, but anyways the guy was about 16 and his sister maybe about 20 years old.  I met them at a bar type of place my first night there, and they were quite friendly.  We decided we would meet up the next day, and the actually invited me over to their apartment for “mate”.  Mate is the drink of choice down in Argentina.  It can easily turn into several hour event.  What you do is you fill up a pot of water, and then you get some mate herbs together.  The mate you stuff into a small wooden cup, that has a metal straw coming out of it.  Basically, you are making tea, but you are also adding sugar to it if you like.  And the best part is, you sit around in a circle and pass the mate around.  There is always one person who is in charge of filling up the water each time, and that person remains the same the entire time.  If you ever have the opportunity to have “mate” with an Argentinian family, make sure to take them up on the offer.  You won’t forget it, I can assure you.

Back to bike riding.

When I left Chacabuco, it was sometime in the late morning the day I departed.  And once I was on the main road called Route 7  headed towards the Andes Mountains, and in specific, headed towards the next city called Junin.  Anyways, the wind was blowing directly in my face, and it was getting less and less exciting to be on this road as progress was really hard.  Bike riding in Argentina can be all kinds of fun, don’t get me wrong, but it can also be very difficult if you are headed into the wind like I was that day.

After a very short amount of time, I heard a large truck behind me.  This was not out of the ordinary though.  The previous day, there were probably several hundred trucks that passed me on my way from San Antonia de Areco to Chacabuco.  But this time, it was different.  It sounded like the truck was slowing down and may even stop before it passed me.  So this was strange.  But, when it was right next to me, I could tell it was still moving, just real slowly.  Also, I could tell that it was still moving.

When the truck was RIGHT next to me, I heard a voice, and it sounded like it was being directed to me.  So I looked over and saw a few dirty guys in the cab of this large semi truck, and I acted like everything was fine, and I was not interetsed in whatever they were talking about.  They soon kept moving, or so I thought.

It wasn’t but twenty seconds later that I realized they had come to a complete stop about 300 feet in-front of me on the highway.  This is when I started to panic a tiny bit.  I was out in no mans land on a highway in Argentina, and now there were several guys in a large semi truck waiting for me.  Initially, I started thinking that I could just turn around and ride the wind all the way back to Chacabuco and probably be back there in about 15 or 20 minutes.  But for some reason I kept going forward and didn’t act scared.

When I approached the truck, the driver, who seemed like he was the one in charge started talking to me with his door open.  So I stopped and dismounted my bike.  I started to think that they were offering me to put my bike in their truck and to offer me a lift.  For some reason they could tell that I wasn’t making much progress.  Thinking quickly, I agreed.  I made sure to get out my camera, and my wallet and passport from my saddle bags, and then the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the cab with a crazy group of Argentinian day laborers.  The truck it turns out was full of bricks.  So South American brick layers.  Also, since it was siesta time I guess, they were all headed home to catch a bit of rest, or maybe something else, the translation was a bit wacko at times.  Either way, they drove me about 20 miles, and it was great fun.  I told them I was from Poland, and I’m not sure why I lied to them.  Sorry Guys, and to the driver, thank you for offering your phone number as support.  I never ended up needing to call you for help, but I appreciate it.  Notice my bike in back of these guys…

argentina brick layers
The fat guy is the Argentine truck driver

Bike Riding in Argentina

Going on a bike tour on a regular bike with saddle bags in Argentina is a trip to say the least.  This was my second bike trip of my life, and one I have great memories of.  I think it would probably be hard to find someone who has horrible memories of any bike trip as they tend to be the best time of your life.

Argentina is a massive country.  Don’t be fooled otherwise.  I am not one for doing much planning, and in some ways I paid the price for my lack of planning.  But in other ways, it was all part of the experience.

My bike tour started out with the airplane landing in the Buenos Aires airport.  For some reason, I sat next to a girl on the plane ride from Houston, and she passed me a sleeping pill which she was also taking.  I am not one to take random pills from others, but this worked out well.  I literally woke up just a half hour before the plane was landing…pretty impressive sleeping pills.

Once on the ground, it was time to get oriented in the airport and find the baggage claim.  That wasn’t too hard, and my cardboard bike box was there in one piece without any holes in it with my Ritchey mountain bike.  I carried my two saddle bags and my yellow dry bag onboard as carry on luggage.  Just in case the bike didn’t make it, I always figured I could easily buy a new bike and just go from there, but of course that wasn’t necessary.

As I made it outside into Argentina for the first time, I quickly met a taxi driver who agreed to take all my luggage, bike box and all inside his small car.  I speak decent Spanish, so I told him to take me to a town about 100 kilometers outside of the city.  I told him I didn’t care where, just some small town where I could spend the night.   He told me he would take me to San Antonio de Areco.  I said great.  And off we went.

It’s somewhat of a strange feeling starting a bike trip in Argentina inside of an unmarked taxi cab with a taxi driver named Ariel Camacho and heading out of a super large capital city.  But, as I don’t like biking in busy cities with tons of traffic, this was the next best option, and for only about $20 cab fare, it was well worth it.  When we arrived in San Antonio de Areco, he took me to the “Tourism Center” and he arranged for me to stay with a woman for the night in a rented room for about $10.  The woman was so nice, she even made me a super breakfast in the morning.  Also, my taxi driver agreed to take my bike box back with him, and he gave me his business card so I could call him to retrieve my box when I returned to the capital in three weeks.  And of course he wanted another fare to the Airport(which he got!)