Well, this was certainly an unexpected end to a tough day…
It was cold this morning – just a few degrees above freezing – but the wind was only a gentle (cold) breeze, so we bundled up and headed out.
As expected, the road turned to gravel immediately beyond Cerro Sombrero (we’ll have dirt road until we cross back into Argentina), but conditions were good – tail wind and great road conditions. For a while, anyway.
The road began to deteriorate at about the same time the frigid wind shifted into a cross wind. We bounced and jiggled over the rocky road, struggling to maintain control of the bikes – all the while wind threatened to knock us over.
I lost control twice. The first time I strayed a bit too close to the edge of the road and deep gravel ate my front tire. BAM! The second came toward the end of the day when I was exhausted and could barely keep hold of the handlebars – a gust of wind came at the exact moment I arrived at a patch of loose gravel. BAM! (again)
And so it was that we pulled into the town of Cullen. “The town is abandoned,” people had told me. “There’s nothing there anymore.” We hoped we could at least find a building to pitch our tents behind – camping directly out in that wind was not something we were looking forward to.
I flagged down a truck. “Is there any place here we could pitch our tent?” I asked.
“No,” came the reply. “This is all private. You’ll have to go outside the gate.”
“But we need a building or something to block the wind,” I told them. “Is there a supervisor here I could ask permission from?”
A few minutes later I stood before the plant supervisor explaining our predicament. It turns out that Cullen is not quite abandoned – it’s a petroleum plant and they have 40 workers there.
“Yes,” he told me. “I think we can find a place. Just a minute – I’ll call my supervisor and get back to you.”
Another worker invited us into the rec room to wait – out of the wind and on nice, comfy couches. We couldn’t wait to climb into our tents for the evening and get out of the wind for good.
“Come with me,” the supervisor said a few minutes later. “I’ll show you where you can sleep.”
He took out a key, opened a door, and showed us to rooms. Dorm rooms! With two beds each! Nice soft comfy beds! And a bathroom! With showers! And hot water!
“Get organized, then come over to the cafeteria for coffee and bread,” he invited. “And dinner is served at nine.”
I’m still stunned. I never, ever expected to be in such luxurious surroundings tonight. All I was hoping for was to be out of the wind.
Kilometers today: 54
Kilometers to date: 27443
Distance remaining: 350