Day 19 – Cafayate to Villa Union

 

Off again at the crack of dawn as we have over 500 kilometers to drive before the Test of the day. Last night we stayed right in a vineyard which provided a welcome change to our mountainous desert surroundings. It did not take but a few moments to leave the grape vines behind and return to what we now know as standard terrain – desert and mountains. While this can become boring after a while, the mountains lit by the rising sun were very spectacular.

 

This was about the last of the vineyards with the mountains in the background …

 

The mountains have ever changing faces – all rugged. Glad we don’t have to drive up there today.

 

No idea what was growing but at least it was green – once out on the desert itself there is nothing but dust.

 

The unbelievable views just go on forever …

 

We are obviously driving a marked car – this cow saw us coming and hurried right off the road – the sheep, no doubt, had provided early warning.

 

Just what we have been looking forward to all morning – nice dirt roads with plenty of dust. I’m pretty sure I’ve gained weight just swallowing all the dust.

 

One of the very few towns we passed through had a lovely tree lined section with vineyards on either side behind the trees. It didn’t last long.

 

And just as quickly we were back in the mountains and desert – never ending, beautiful, but a little (and we’ve had a lot) goes a long way.

 

These hills offer no place for a picnic – that is serious rock up there.

 

This is like a never ending road – one section went for over 85 kilometers in a straight line with no change in the surrounding scenery – a great recipe for a nap – hopefully not while behind the wheel.

 

More of same …

 

One of the very few towns we passed through all day – note the total lack of people on a beautiful Saturday – maybe they were off mountain climbing.

 

Oh look! More mountains! Unfortunately, this was all I had to work with all day. They are, however, quite beautiful. You are fortunate in that you get to see them without having to spend an entire day passing through them.

 

At last, the one Test for the day – 17 kilometers (the original route was shortened because of construction) of dirt road, narrow and twisting – Lloyd’s specialty. It was great fun passing slower vehicles (fortunately we only had one) and meeting oncoming traffic. Lloyd did a terrific job and did better than the allotted time which gave us zero penalty points for the day.

 

After the Test, we had one more run through the desert to get to our hotel for the evening. The temperature was over 100 degrees (F) but look at the snowcapped peak not all that far away. What an amazing country.

 

This is a land of enormous space and size, the mountains are spectacular and the desert quite beautiful in its own right – there is just so much of it and I have found it hard to take it all in.

Tomorrow is an even longer day (635 kilometers) with two Tests along the way. The second Test is only 3 km long so we know something is up – perhaps we will have to run it in reverse.

We will reach Mendoza tomorrow and then have the next day off – something that everyone is looking forward to – long hours and intense heat has taken a toll on everyone.

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