From the bus terminal we cycle to the aero club in Rio Quarto. We wont take off, but Tatalo arranged us a camp spot at the private area. For the first time in many days we cook our own vegetarian dish. After a serie of asados and dulce de leche, there is finally time for a meat and sucker free diet. Also for the next stop Tatalo arranged us a host. To come there, we have a terrible day against the wind. It are the upcoming hills of Cordoba that keep our head cool and our legs working. After 600 kilometers of trenching Pampas, we are relieved to see mountain tops at the horizon. Ten kilometers before we reach the village, two man make obvious signs to stop. One of them is filming us while the other introduces him self as Raul. They bring us the key for a private Cabaña, where we can spend the night for free. They work for the local tv and are damn proud to tell the world about the two world cyclists who stay the night in their little town. Like an escort they accompany us to the town, while they record us from every possible corner.
We can stay al long as we want in our private house, but the lovely winter sun lure us to the bicycles. After five kilometers we are exhausted. The wind with force 6 is blowing us off the bicycle. Why didn't we stop, maybe the wrong decision? Finally we cycled 35 kilometers in three hours, which took a lot effort. With whizzing ears we arrive at the fire station in Villa del Carmen, where they offer us a roof to sleep in the night. Almost all the villages in Argentina have a fire station, which is always voluntary, sometimes big, sometimes very small. In this village they only have a trailer with a plastic container to extinguish the fire. When we are enjoying the sun we see two other cyclists riding into the street. After three months in South America we finally see other cyclists. Pauline and Alexandre, a French couple, also cycles to Ushuaia and had a lovely day on the bicycle with the wind in the back. Finally we can compare ourselves with other cyclists and find out that we aren't so different. In the end it was a good decision to start cycling this morning.
The next morning we cycle to the North, while Mendoza is to the West. A lot of Argentinians told us that the road to the North is beautiful. Like always since we arrived in Uruguay the wind blows in the wrong direction and we doubt about our choice again. The French couple cycles South West and has again backwind. In Merlo we cycle directly to the firemen who don't have a place for us in the night. One of the fireman, Uriel, doesn't doubt one second and invites us in his house. He is half blind, a complications after a premature birth, but lives in his own house. In this province, San Luis, people can buy a house for only three euros a month, incredible. Uriel can't extinguish the fire because he can't see it, but he is extremely handy with electronics which he all does on intuition. His gives us the key of his house and let's us stay as long as we want. Blind faith, literally this time.
After an active resting day we continue. The windguru predicts a nice backwind, but when we get on the bicycles we have the wind from the front again. We decide to take the interior to the West. After ten kilometers the asphalt changes into a dirt road, and we have to work our way up against the dust, trying to avoid the sharp stones. 'A wrong decision again?' We ask ourselves, until the road curves down into a beautiful valley. The sharp stones keep on torturing our tyres, but even two punctures can't ruin our day. In this remote valley live only three farmers, who all are very curious to know more about the rare traveller. Next to the dirt road we pitch our tent, but even on the lonely road wouldn't have been a problem.
The next evening we are drinking maté with some youngsters from a local political party. We ended up in a big warehouse where we can sleep on the ground. The youngsters try to convince us to take another road, back to the South. Our planned route goes more through the North and passes a remote dessert for 300 kilometers, without any services to find food. The curves on the map convince us to go back to the South, trusting some young locals. The first meters we still doubt a little, but when the wind pushes us over a curved road through the mountains we cycle with a big smile. Finally not the wrong decision, until some hairpin curves disappear high into the mountain. The boys forgot to mention this. The first kilometers are killing, 5%-10%-4%-12%, a rhythm is impossible and our bicycles are cracking with every rotation. Again the wrong decision? From the hairpin curves the climb becomes easier and we have time to enjoy the view. On the top the true reward waits. A surrealistic landscape with a tiny curved asphalt road in between big rocks. Further on two giant condors are circling in the air and descent close us to start a seldom mating ritual. We stop every minute for a photo or a short movie. One hour ago we asked ourselves why we do this. This answer was waiting on the top. Later on we pitch our tent at 1.800 meters above sea level, on one of the most beautiful spots in ten months.
After a beautiful cycling day with a lot of downhill we knock at the firemen's door who offer us a warm place to sleep in the dormitory. From now on there is one long and strait road between us and Mendoza. The first part is a highway, a quiet one, but the few cars and trucks race at 130 kilometers an hour. We take the safest option and hitchhike 100 kilometers to a village where a parallel road starts. After 30 seconds the first car already stops and our bicycles fit easily in the trunk. The driver assures us that the first part of the parallel road is in really bad condition and takes us 30 kilometers further. At the horizon the first peaks of the horizon shine at the horizon. A tears rolls on our cheek, but not because of happiness. We were looking forward to this moment since we left Amsterdam and now we see it inside a car and not on our bicycles. Disappointed we settle ourselves on a bench and don't say a word. This really was the wrong decision. We feel failed, but do we have two. We cycled and sailed for eleven months, day after day. It still is a remarkable performance, but right now those words don't help us. We decide to cycle back to the beginning of the bad road, hoping to feel tomorrow what we wanted to feel. The next day we see the mountains again, but the beautiful feeling was robbed on the back seat of the car. When we arrive in Mendoza one day later, some feeling of proud revives. Sometimes a bad decision looks irreversible, but most of the time it ends with another beautiful experience.