April 27, 2007 GMT
Millin' Around


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Ancient Ruin? Moto Guzzi

On February the 18th, 2007 we arrived in San Rafael and stopped at the Cabaņas Calderon. This is a photo journal of our time there.

San Rafael is located in the heart of Mendoza province approximately 1000 kms west of Buenas Aires and 200 kms east of the Andes on the same latitude as Sydney, Australia.


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Grapes ready for harvest

It is a centre for wine production, fruit growing and olive farming. With a temperate climate and plenty of irrigation from the Andean snow melt, this is a prosperous region based on tourism and agriculture.


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Valle Grande - Popular Tourist centre 30 kms from San Rafael

Soooo... what have we been doing for the last three and a half months?

SITTING ON OUR ASSES

Some of our dear friends have passed through San Rafael, said they were staying a few days and ending up leaving after a few weeks.


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Easter Madness
L - R Jules, Grant, Anita, Lew from Great Britain


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Mary and Mathias from Germany


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Hamish from Scotland


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Emma from England


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Val & Adam from California


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Eduardo and Margarita from Mexico

COOKING

Our cabana has been very confortable, a real little house, complete with kitchen, such a treat after living off the camping stove for months.... well years almost.


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Chicken Pizza.... isn't that an ancient Mayan ruin in Mexico???


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Hurry up Val!.... we are starving and that Milenesa de Pollo smells too good to be true!


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Emma show that brocolli who is boss

EATING & DRINKING


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' Why are you taking a photo of cakes?... Don't you have cakes in Australia?' asked the confused man in our favorite coffee shop, not understanding Jules obsession with beautifully decorated food


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Stew, Veg and Friends - Has Adam gone for more plonk?
L - R Emma, Val, Grant, Hamish


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A few drinks around the table
L - R Mary, Mattias, Anita, Jules, Lew


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Hame & Grant relaxing with a vino tinto

SOCIALISING


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'Nah mate, seriously, it is this big!' - Phil and Grant tell tall tales


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Asado at John and Anettes
L - R Jules, Grant, Tom, John, Annette


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"Happy Birthday Phil"

FIXING THINGS

It has been a fantastic opportunity to do all those fiddley little things you never get a chance to to when you are on the road such as fix the velcro on your jacket and re-seal your now leaky wet boots.


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Fixing up the wet boots


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Hamish and Grant bashing Berthas panniers back into shape after her tumble in the snow a few days before

CHANGE THE STEERING HEAD BEARINGS

Grant awoke early on a cold overcast Monday morning in anticipation of a start to changing the steering head bearings on Miss Piggy.


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A naked Piggy in the Bush

We had been in San Rafael for seven weeks and after a cursory visit to the local and very helpful SKF store to purchase the said bearings, it was all go.

The workshop manual, once again over complicating all and necessitating the pre-requisite NASA engineering degree to perform any work on the bike, was duly closed.


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Stripping Down - Changing the Steering Head Bearings

As the morning disappeared so too did the front end of the Suzuki. It appeared all was going well, however, as the clock struck mid afternoon, San Rafael's normally stable climate took a rapid turn for the worse.

The darkened clouds of the morning had increased in blackness and with cool strengthening winds the pitter patter of rain drops began to fall our cabaņa roof.

As Piggy's carport is merely an oversized shade house we hastily covered the bike with the cover and hoisted all associated bits and pieces into the living room.

'Okay,' we thought 'not so lucky with the weather but it will be only overnight, it never rains for long here'.


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Rain and Rain and Rain

... Six days later the sodden form of Piggy with no front end mournfully sat amoungst the flooded surrounds of the cabaņas and we, equally in mourning, sat surrounded by the disassembled pieces, watching through the closed windows as San Rafael experienced the heaviest and longest rainfall in living memory.


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Yep.... still raining

RIDING TO CHILE & BACK

Once the rain had finally abated, the flood waters drained away and Piggy back in one piece, we took a ride over the Andes to re-new our tourist visas, bike paperwork and test out the new bearings.


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Clear blue skys, spectacular scenerey with a nasty cold wind - Ruta 7 to Chile


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Then it snowed overnight!


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Quite a bit of snow actually

RELAXING

We have also had the time to revitalise our bodies, minds and enthusiasm to continue on our journey.


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A taste of Home
'Mmmmmmm cherry ripe! Rich chocolatey/cherry goodness!'


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Kermit at the day spa


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'I hope that is soap bubbles Kermie!'

We have almost become accustomed to the 5 hour siesta each day. The entire city shuts down around mid day and opens at 5ish. No restaurant is open before 9pm or serves before 10pm. Pubs and clubs only open after 11pm or 12 midnight and discos do not open thier doors before 1am.

TOURING AROUND

Having a base where we know we will be at the end of the day has been comforting and enjoyable.


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Cactus in Flower

We have been able to watch the town change from summer to autumn, see shops close down and new ones open and monitor building projects from commencement to completion.


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Dique Tigre

There are many beautiful short (or long if you so choose to make them) rides around the San Rafael area. The Hydro Electric Scheme in the area has produced picturesque dams, dikes and river scenes contrasted by the modern electrical plants.


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Dam at Los Reyunos


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Dam Wall - Valle Grande


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Overlooking the dam - Valle Grande

The Canyon Atuel circuit is somewhat remeniscent of Arizona and Utah in the United States, with unusual colourful rock formations that change and surpirse at every corner.


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Canyon Atuel


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Cruisin' Canyon Atuel with Lew and Anita


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Stone Sculpture - Canyon Atuel


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"You two bob down so I look like the tallest" - Canyon Atuel
L -R Hamish, Grant, Emma


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New Reality TV show - Swapping Bikes
Grant and Bertha, Hamish and Piggy

Slipping into Argentine life has been easy, taking a pile of wood out and cooking over a fire on a Sunday afternoon has becime a small ritual for us, just like the locals!


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Sunday Picnic


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Mini Ausie/Argie Asado

HELPING OUT


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'Peel me a grape sweetie darling!'
Jules and Emma

John and Annette are British ex-pats who, on completion of thier 3 year motorcycle tour, moved to Argentina to continue thier life's adventure as farmers. Their small finca grows plums, wine grapes, walnuts and last year they planted 1000 olive trees.


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Grape Harvest

A phone call to Annette one morning resulted in the six of us (Grant, Jules, Emma, Hamish, Val and Adam) lobbing up on the farm to help pick grapes. Due to unusual weather conditions, this years harvest needed to be completed in three days instead of the usual seven.

It was hot and dusty work and at the end of the day we were tired little motorcyclists.


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After extensive instruction on how not to drive the tractor, Jules is ready to go!

Another time.....


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Grant foolishly offered to help Tom fabricate and weld a gate and window security bars.... eeewwww yuck welding!

WATCH THE PARADE

May 22nd is the Fiesta de la Santa Rita in the small village of 25 de Mayo, near John and Annette's finca. A parade is led by the Gauchos and finishes with mass in a large marque and a party that goes all night.


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Gaucho in training


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Gauchos Leading the Parade


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Santa Rita

Well it has been three and a half months here in San Rafael and it is time to move on, so much more to see and do.


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Kermie (in Clan McFrog Tartan anf Virgin Islands Sporan) practices his Highland Fling

Staying in this town has provided us with great rest, enabled us to catch up with old friends and make new friends, given us a base to receive much appreciated letters and packages from friends and family and will forever remain a highlight of our journey..... We are even thinking of returning in a few months.


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Jules Garden - Petunias saved from certain dehydration and death, they just needed a little water and TLC

Posted by Julie Rose at 03:51 PM GMT
 



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