Both became very high up on my list of “undesirables” during our time in Argentina. As soon as we crossed the border, the big shoulders we had been riding in disappeared and at the same time every driver on the road suddenly had a major sense of urgency and jerkish attitude about them. Apparently they think it's a good idea to drive like maniacs, never use their brakes, honk when they were right next to us rather than a fair distance back so as to make us jump instead of give us time to move over (and at the same time make us deaf in our left ears), pass each other on tight corners, when there's a bike coming from the opposite direction and pretty much any time there's a solid yellow line. However, as soon as they found themselves sharing a lane with a bicycle, it seemed as though it was a capital offense to cross that center line and give us some space, regardless of whether it was solid or dotted. We were run off the road by more trucks and buses, which were some of the most considerate drivers in Chile, more times in our week in Argentina than we have been on this entire trip. I don't understand their way of driving and the riding was a bit tense at times.
Then there were the ginormous horse flies with their big, green bug eyes and torturous bites who relentlessly swarmed us at camp and buzzed circles around our heads while pedaling down the road, driving us into an aggravated, dizzy anger that often sent us into hysterical fits of helpless annoyance. I'd often see Mike riding down the road with his head shaking from side to side and his arms flailing wildly to keep the flies away. I sometimes think he spends equal amounts of energy swatting bugs away as he does pedaling his bike and I don't know how he manages to not crash with all of those spastic movements going on. Any time we stop moving, the horse flies tend to swarm, but if we have enough patience to let them land on us, they're quite easy to catch. The problem is, though, that they are tough little suckers and a good solid swat won't kill them. It only sends them into a dizzy spiral down to the ground where they shake their wings for a moment and then fly away. If someone were to watch us at camp, they'd think we were a physically abusive couple, constantly slapping each other full force on the arms, back, legs and head. We may have red welts all over our bodies, but we also have hundreds of dead horse flies laying around, which is very satisfying.
Look at the size of these things!
Despite the horrible drivers and annoying flies, our week of riding around the lakes district of western Argentina, mostly within the limits of Lanin and Nahuel Huapi National Parks, was spectacular. The weather was predominantly nice, camping was easy to find, there were pristine lakes and rivers where Mike got to get some use out of his $14 collapsible junior fishing rod we bought him, beautiful wildflowers, snow covered mountains and numerous little mountain ski towns with their trendy shops and upscale markets that reminded us of any number of ski resorts in the U.S. We've started to see quite a few other bike tourists, which is fun and encouraging, but up to this point, most of them have been heading north instead of south. Next we'll be heading back into Chile to ride the infamous Carretera Austral and are anticipating meeting up with many other cyclists en route to Ushuaia.