Sunday, 25 December 2011

Day 49: Ruta Siete to Santiago (425 kms)

A late start, but a beautiful ride on the principal road connecting Argentina and Chile across the Andes. We bade Andrew farewell and joined national highway #7. The road rose gradually from Mendoza, passed under the continental divide and international frontier through a tunnel, and dropped precipitously in tight switchbacks into Chile.

Before crossing we passed to the south of Aconcagua which at just shy of 7000 meters is the tallest peak in the western hemisphere. There was a partial view from the park gate.

On leaving Argentina there is a prominent road sign standing testament to the continued national irritation over the Falklands Islands. And then we were in Chile; the final country (although not border crossing) of the trip!

The most dramatic moment of the day was an altercation I had with another motorist at a gas station. He was trying to go the wrong way through the filling bay (queues at station are ubiquitous and managed by single direction traffic). When I wouldn't yield ground he actually hit my bike - while I was riding it - with his car. The contact was not violent but still there is nothing quite so unnerving as being on a bike and having a car attempt to muscle you off the road. It's intolerable. I returned contact. The car had Chilean plates and apparently he held a grudge all the way to the border; a particularly busybody policeman there asked me "Why hit car Chile?" Indeed. Peter duly noted the addition of this question to the pantheon of Great Unanswered Philosophical Questions.

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