Friday, February 10, 2006

El Calafate

11:30 p.m.

Just got off the phone with Sacha. He tried to ride to Rio Gallegos today, but didn’t make it far. His rear tire was ruined. He had to get the bike towed back here, but was fortunate to find a used tire in El Calafate. Apparently, running the tire on low pressure (necessary in dirt) had generated multiple leaks. (And this may explain our different experiences in the mud on Ruta 40. As recommended for off-roading, Sacha was running his tires probably around 20 psi. I had mine near full inflation. Sacha had better traction, and little difficulty with mud build-up under his front mud guard, but the structure of his tire began to disintegrate more quickly from the increased flexing of the steel belts.)

***

Desayuno this morning consisted of bread, coffee and orange drink served with complete indifference by a young woman.

I’ve been pretty much in seclusion today. The winter illnesses which I’ve eluded so successfully the past eight months have finally caught me. Bronchitis, I think, from too much dust and too little rest, running the body down. It has wiped me out, and left plans for visiting Perito Moreno Glacier in question. [August 2013 note: I may have come down with "Valley Fever," coccidioidomycosis, a fungal infection endemic in parts of Patagonia, and also in deserts of the U.S. Southwest.]

Laundry occupied a part of the day. Continued washing clothing and gear, hanging and laying things out in the sun to dry. Though I was told this hotel would be quiet, weed whips and electric tools kept me company much of the day.

I had hoped to go out to Moreno this afternoon (an hour’s ride from town), but didn’t have the energy. Took a nap from 5:00 to 6:00.

This evening, I ventured into downtown, two blocks away, searching for an internet café where I could plug in my laptop. The reception I received at the first three left me cold. All simply said “no” when I inquired, and had no further recommendations. These people seemed jaded from the tourism-based greed-fest here.

The main boulevard is paved, but a block or two either side it turns to dirt, yet there are the chic boutiques and restaurants, crowded with well-dressed people.

Finally found “@(Aroba)Internet” café and met with a “no problem” attitude. It was refreshing, because I was really beginning to sour on this place and its pretensions. Worked for 3-1/2 hours, e-mailing and downloading photos to the blog.

Visited a chocolate shop, an important component to my research.

Back to the hotel for dinner, walking past many crowded (and very nice restaurants). The hotel was experiencing a power failure, but the lights soon came on. I was the sole diner at first, then a family of five joined me. It was depressing after seeing the nightlife downtown. (Remind me never to sign up for “meals included” again. I want to choose!) I finally asked the server to turn on some music, as the restaurant felt like a morgue.

The pizza I ordered for dinner was terrible. I asked them to put a little bleu cheese on it, but they smothered it in cheese. It was nearly inedible. “7-Up” soda tastes different here. I noticed on the can that it contains 5% lemon juice plus lime flavor.

That's about it for profound observations today. By 11:00 p.m., I was fading fast. Off to bed.

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