Clocked our first thousand – Chilecito to Belen

We enjoyed our respite in Chilecito in a nice hostel. Our stay coincided with International Animal Day so struck some large groups of kids and dogs!. Visited the Cristi de Portugeza – impressive for its view over the town, and the landscaping of steps of varying cactii leading up to the top. We learnt never to believe the large lady at the tourism office when asked about how flat the road to the next town was. “planar carreterra” (flat road) was the reply – well obviously she has never biked to Pituil – down 200m, up 200m, down 200m, up 200m…

We finally got to Pituil and were informed by 3 lots of folk that it was quite OK to camp in the town plaza. I love  the plazas as the focal point of all these Latin American towns so to camp in the middle of one was quite appealing. The afternoon siesta time was very quiet, the free wifi handy and the odd horse and cart going by a novelty. We were not a novelty with the locals which was good.

We were camped oposite the church and were invited to mass with Ave Maria, (statue in a glass case) carried on foot from Buenos Airies. I made it for the sermon – some of which I could understand – must be that catholic upbringing. As for our nights sleep in the plaza, sadly , unknown to us the next day was Labour day so the evening revelry around the Plaza carried on till 2 or 3 in the morning. Hmmm.

In San Blas we shared the municipal campground the next day with some Labour Day celebrations – when the kareoke started mid afternoon we decided we had to move on to a wild camp to get a quiet nights sleep. It was a pity as we met our first cyclist heading the other way (Neil from the UK). It was lovely cycling into the sunset and our campsite off the highway could not have been quieter. Pushing my bike up onto the road the next morning gave me my first puncture when a large thorn got stuck in my tyre.

We enjoyed the long haul to Londres as it was going to be the end of our long straight roads for the trip, and there was not too much variation in altitude. Londres was a treat – nice millenesia, chips and salad when we arrived, super friendly shop keeper who gave us tomatoes, walnuts, figs and introduced us to his family and then the most amazing municipal campground disected by water races, a lake to swim in, a massive (but empty pool) and some friendly dogs (and no charge – seems like no-one is collecting camp fees now it is autumn). AND just up the road is an historic Inca settlement dating back thousands of years. Hard to leave this morning for the short ride into Belem and a restful afternoon.