We had knowingly accepted the pampas bargain: intimidating expanses of barren terrain and strong winds in exchange for pure blue skies and searing sun. It was the sun we were seeking, after two weeks of daily rains in the clutch of the Andes. Still, with apprehension we cycled out of Junin de los Andes and into the rolling hills and consuming vastness of the desert. Though months had passed, we still bore the psychological scars of our wind-racked battle further south. But looking behind us, the thunderheads seemed parked atop the mountains, not daring to come any closer. It would be all right.
Our campsite was one easily forgotten, a small flat in a gravel quarry, hastily agreed upon in encroaching darkness. An aesthetic zero, but a place to catch some sleep, nothing more. Now, after 35 hours and counting, it is undeniably our home.
I had watched the small muddy lake growing, until now it threatened to flood the tent. I forced Bill out of his lethargy: We must move the tent. I can understand his reluctance. Moving a set-up tent, books, food, wine, clothes — two days of sprawl — is an epic in unwelcome ordeal. We settle again and replug our ears to escape the noise. Every so often we deny the obvious and peek through a small crack to see if the weather bears any trace of change. No such luck.
Out of food and out of fresh water, tomorrow we will be forced to move on. Ahead lie 200 more kilometers until Zapala, our next town. Now we welcome sleep's oblivion, and dream of a distant and separate pampas, one that hopefully can keep its promises.
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